Fairmont Austin review: a spot of serenity in a vibrant city
Panoramic views, spa treats and cycling adventures await in the Texan capital
It didn’t take long for us to spot the Fairmont Austin as we approached the Texan capital.
Much like the handful of towering structures dotted around the city, the Fairmont Austin is a relatively new structure. The hotel opened in March 2018 and has since become the go-to destination for adventurers looking for a spot of luxury in an exciting city.
Austin is synonymous with music, particularly its association with blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan. A statue of the Dallas-born guitarist can be found in the Town Lake Metropolitan Park, and there are multiple references to the musician around the local bars and clubs. In recent years, festival-goers flock to the city for events such as South by South West (SXSW) and City Limits.
Since 2012, though, Austin has also become the focus of international motorsport in the US. The Circuit of the Americas (COTA), found on the outskirts of the city, hosts everything from Formula 1 to Moto GP - as well as concerts by some of the world’s biggest stars.
With that in mind, we headed to the Texan city to catch the US Grand Prix, and the Fairmont Austin seemed like the perfect base for the race weekend.
A room with a view
With the Fairmont Austin being a few floors shy of being a 40-storey building, there’s a good chance you’ll have an incredible view of Texas’s most vibrant city.
We found ourselves on the 34th floor, providing a panoramic view over downtown Austin and its surrounding suburbs. It’s here where you begin to realise just how lush the city and the countryside beyond actually are. The view becomes especially stunning at night, with a flurry of glistening tail-lights and street signs showing that Austin is a city that rarely sleeps.
An upgrade to the Gold Club is highly recommended, as it grants you access to an exclusive lounge (pictured above) on the 35th floor. Not only do the catering staff put out an impressive breakfast, but drinks and meals, such as lunch and afternoon snacks, are served throughout the day. But above all, it’s a great place to grab a coffee before heading out for a day of exploring.
There are, of course, rooms available for those with money to spend. Right at the top of the hotel are the Presidential Suites, featuring a lounge, a sizeable dining table with space for eight guests and even a pair of baths.
But those looking to keep costs to a minimum can find luxurious accommodation at the Fairmont. Entry-level rooms still come with bright, modern decor and plenty of space, but the view may not be as spectacular as those in the Gold Club.
Time to relax
Those wanting to spend a morning relaxing, however, will want to book a session at the hotel’s spa. From steam rooms to facials, couple massages to body treatments, you’ll certainly find yourself leaving the sixth floor feeling pampered.
As you’d expect from a spa of the highest quality, visitors can book a host of sessions ranging from 60 minutes to nearly two and a half hours. There’s also a saline soaking pool, boasting another wonderful view over the city, which you can follow up with a relaxing ten-minute session in the sauna.
A particular highlight is the hotel’s Texas Hill Country Awakening “signature expression”. The two-hour session comprises a gentle foot soak, a full body scrub and rinse under the spa’s rain shower. You are then treated to a full-body massage, followed by a soothing scalp massage.
If you’re looking to work up a sweat, you can always head over to the hotel gym. Here you’ll find high-tech equipment, including the Skillmill treadmill by Italian fitness group Technogym. The Skillmill uses a series of motors that change the treadmill’s level of friction under foot, depending on what setting you choose.
Lower settings are ideal for those looking for a quick morning jog, while the higher modes require your full body weight to move. It’s currently being used by the McLaren Formula 1 team to train its drivers.
Bars and barbecues
Nobody does barbecues and bars like Texans do. Thankfully, the selection of restaurants and lounges in the Fairmont Austin live up to the high standards set by the city’s local barbecue houses and eccentric clubs.
For instance, the Garrison restaurant on the ground floor offers a taste of Texan cuisine in a stylish setting. It seems that almost everything on the menu is grilled, including the selection of breads before your meal arrives. The steaks are truly wonderful, brimming with smokey flavours that are both warming and surprisingly intricate.
Rules and Regs, meanwhile, is the perfect place to grab a drink and take in the view. And, thanks to Austin’s mild climate, you can almost be sure of enjoying a few drinks on the bar’s balcony.
Cocktails at the Fulton bar is a great way to end the evening. The hotel hosts live music on a weekly basis, which for us consisted of upbeat jazz and acoustic grooves.
Step out into the city
You’ll find that there’s quite an outlandish city to discover if you can pull yourself away from the plethora of eateries and bars tucked inside the Fairmont.
Given Texas’s reputation for flame-grilled cuisine, the Salt Lick Barbecue (pictured above) should be among the very first places food lovers visit. Located on the outskirts of the city, The Salt Lick BBQ offers all you can eat for around $19 (£15) per person. And once you’ve cleared your plate, a waiter will be ready to top it up again - at no extra cost. Thankfully, the restaurant is looking into offering vegetarian options, too.
It’s also worth heading out into the suburbs as well if you’re wanting to see how the average Austinite lives. We found that the tours offered by electric bicycle firm Rocket Electrics are the best way to take in the city’s sights and discover the hidden gems nestled in the suburbs.
If you’re planning on visiting Austin at the end of next year, we recommend booking tickets to the US Grand Prix, running from 31 October to 2 November. Hotel rates will be substantially higher at this time of year, but it’s well worth it for serious Formula 1 fans.
Fairmont Austin, Texas, from around $220 (£172) per night. Norwegian Air flies direct to Austin from Gatwick, with return flights starting at about £315.