After spending a week in Houston with friends, I decided to extend my time in Texas and enjoy a return visit to the vibrant city of Austin.
With my trip coming together somewhat spontaneously, my accommodation strategy was quite piecemeal. The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection caught my eye at the right price, and I decided it would be a good opportunity to check it out for a night.
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The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection – Booking
Typically, The Otis Hotel Austin can be booked for 40,000–65,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. If you’re paying with cash, expect prices of approximately $200–300 (USD) plus tax, which can rise to as high as $500 (USD) during major local events.
Visiting on the Saturday of Memorial Day long weekend, points prices were surprisingly low, at 45,000 Bonvoy points. Meanwhile, I noticed that last-minute cash rates were quite reasonable in comparison, in the range of $170 (USD) plus tax.
In the end, I booked my stay with a Free Night Award worth 35,000 points, which I topped up with an additional 10,000 points. On paper, this was rather poor value; however, I decided to book this way for a few reasons.
My Free Night Award was expiring a few days later, so this was a perfect opportunity to redeem it for some value. It happened to fit with my travel plans, and it indeed proved to be the most cost-effective option in the city on that particular night.
Moreover, the cash cost of the same night would have exceeded the $125 (USD) annual fee I pay for the credit card from which I had earned the free night, the American Express US Marriott Bonvoy Business Card.
With usage deadlines and fixed values, I use a lower bar for redeeming certificates than I do for redeeming points, and I’m satisfied to redeem them for any net gain.
For any cash bookings at the The Otis Hotel Austin, you’ll be happy to know that it participates in Marriott Luminous, a preferred partner program. By booking your stay through an authorized travel advisor, you’ll receive a number of other perks and benefits at no extra cost, which come in addition to those you may enjoy with Marriott Bonvoy status.
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection – Location
The hotel is located a block away from the southwest corner of the University of Texas campus. The area is safe and lively with student life, dotted with modern housing and eateries.
It’s a short distance from the State Capitol grounds, and walkable to the core of downtown. However, if you’re going any further than campus or the Capitol, it’s probably more expeditious to order a cheap 10-minute rideshare instead, or take Austin’s ubiquitous scooter rentals for a spin.
Overall, the location is ideal for visiting the university, acceptable for a tourist, but subpar if you’re in town for an event, as there are several other hotels closer to the city’s event spaces.
To get to The Otis from the airport, it’s about a 30-minute ride in moderate traffic. There’s also a direct bus from the airport which stops along the edge of campus, a few short blocks from the hotel.
The public bus had me at the hotel within 45 minutes for $1.25 (USD). Note that you can’t pay by credit card for a bus ticket at the airport. Instead, download the CapMetro app, buy a fare using your mobile wallet, and scan it to board public transit vehicles.
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection – Check-in
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection shares a building with an AC Hotel. Don’t be alarmed if you see “AC” on the side of the tower and wonder if the Autograph Collection pulled a fast one on you!
Upon my arrival, I was quite taken by the elegance of the lobby. There was no mistaking this property for anything but the Autograph Collection banner.
The lobby has an earthy seating area, with dim, warm lighting, and ample brown leather. With a timeless classy aesthetic, it’s a very inviting space to curl up with a glass of whiskey – but let’s save that for the bar.
Check-in was smooth, and the staff eagerly welcomed me to Austin and explained the hotel’s features. The city of Austin has strong traditions of music and innovation, and the hotel puts a unique stamp on its Autograph Collection name by embracing those pursuits.
The Otis offers a catalogue of over 1,000 vinyl records, which guests can freely enjoy in their room. You can chat with the hotel’s Vinyl Ambassador in the lobby for a recommendation.
I never crossed paths with the AC Hotel’s lobby or amenities. The two hotels felt quite separate, and aside from the second floor making up the AC Hotel’s facilities, the rooms are side-by-side like a tower duplex, rather than stacked in a high-floor/low-floor arrangement like I’ve seen in Calgary, with the premium The Dorian above and the midscale Courtyard below.
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection – High Floor King Room
With suites at full occupancy, I was assigned to a King Room on a high floor. I was placed in Room 922.
The entry to the room is peculiar, as you come through the bathroom first.
Still, the entry is appointed as an entry, with a velvet-exterior closet containing the hotel standards: an iron, a safe, and bathwear.
The bathroom itself has a fairly standard three-piece setup.
Located next to the closet is the room’s vanity, with a rectangular mirror in a backlit frame and lamps on either side.
Opposite from here is a walk-in shower with sliding glass doors. The toilet is housed in its own room just next to here.
The bedroom is separated from the bathroom by a sliding barn door. The bedroom has a much more noticeable style than the bathroom, with wooden panels pointing every which way on the headboard and sliding door.
The king bed was comfortable, if not a touch firm for my preference.
By the window, there’s a single chaise longue for lounging.
The walls are adorned with artwork that showcases touches of the city’s character.
Across from the bed, the desk is a very suitable workstation, with a padded luggage rack just to its side.
The coffee station on the desk offers Nespresso and other hot beverages.
Each room at The Otis comes appointed with a vinyl record player, which is a fairly unique item to find at any hotel.
Every room has a copy of a Janis Joplin album and a Leon Bridges album by default, two esteemed musicians separated by generations who both have strong ties to Austin’s rich cultural history. You can also request to borrow any other record in the hotel’s collection.
I’m no audiophile, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover how enjoyable it was to sit and listen for a while, as the top-notch sound quality sucked me in. This unique feature was perhaps the most unexpected way I’ve ever found myself incentivized to linger in a hotel room longer than I had planned.
The record player has a handy Bluetooth switch, which you can use to stream the hotel’s curated Spotify playlists. Of the few I sampled, I found myself most compelled by Austin’s up-and-coming local artists.
In addition to the music catalogues, the room had a comprehensive run-down of amenities at and near the hotel. There’s a monthly “fresh sheet” of events around town, as well as a list of dog-friendly activities which, along with other useful resources, can be found by scanning a QR code.
Despite its charm, the room was not without its flaws. For one, it’s not that spacious.
My room was advertised as having a campus view, but I’m quite certain my westward vista didn’t face the easterly campus.
There’s also no fridge in the room. Normally not a feature I make use of, this was an unwelcome discovery when I came home with a Texas-sized portion of leftover meat.
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection – Breakfast
Austin is a foodie’s playground, and choosing hotel breakfast as a welcome amenity is a bit suspect. I didn’t have plans during my one morning at The Otis, however, and I figured I’d chance it over 1,000 points.
Breakfast is served in the hotel’s main restaurant, Acre 41, from 7–11am on weekdays and from 7am–2pm on weekends for brunch.
At check-in, I was told that the breakfast voucher only covered an American breakfast. Hotel policy also seems to indicate that the elite benefit is only for the weekday breakfast menu, and not for the weekend brunch menu.
Much to my pleasure, my server proactively suggested that I could order any of the brunch entrees! Not only did this open the menu up to some lunch dishes, it’s just all-around more interesting and generously portioned than what I’d expect to find for basic breakfast fare.
At my server’s recommendation, I chose the wagyu flat-iron steak, cooked medium-rare, with scrambled eggs.
Words can’t describe how right of a choice I made.
Without a doubt, opting for the breakfast benefit at The Otis didn’t leave me wanting for anything more intriguing around town that morning. I’d like to imagine that the rest of the menu is just as good, but if I ever return, I can’t in good conscience not order the same dish again!
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection – Dining & Bar
Aside from breakfast, Acre 41 is open for lunch and dinner service, as well. Lunch begins when breakfast ends, and goes until 2pm, and dinner service is available from 5–10pm daily.
As I made my way through the restaurant, I couldn’t help but notice that everything looks like whiskey. The colour of the chairs, the floor, the ceiling, the wooden trim – it all just screamed fermented grains.
A highlight in Acre 41 is the bar area, which is located close to a revolving door. Once again, I was reminded of whiskey.
Unsurprisingly, there was a large selection of whiskey available at the bar, illuminated overhead. This time, I chose not to indulge, but it’s good to know that I would have had options if I did.
If you’re game, keep an eye out for Happy Hour specials from Monday–Friday between 4 and 6:30pm.
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection – Other Facilities
The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection has a fun rooftop bar and pool atop the hotel on the 11th floor, called Otopia Rooftop Lounge. The space is open from 5–11pm on most days, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Day passes are available for guests not staying at the hotel who wish to enjoy the pool.
The lounging area is an appealing and comfortable space to hang out, with artificial turf and a shaded canopy covering the sizeable area.
Being situated a bit outside of the heart of downtown, there are varied views of different parts of the city, including natural, residential, business, and government vistas.
The pool was very crowded every time I passed by, and unfortunately, I was unable to snap a discreet photo.
The 24-hour fitness centre is also on the top floor, well-outfitted for any type of strength, cardio, or mobility workout.
Autograph Collection has decisively emerged as one of my favourite Marriott Bonvoy brands, and The Otis Hotel Austin, Autograph Collection has done a great job of cementing that impression.
In a city known for its events, which can often lead to cookie-cutter accommodations, I was happy to discover a hotel with a charming design and some local flair.
I’d certainly consider returning to The Otis again for my next visit to Austin, especially if my plans didn’t make its slightly out-of-the-way location a detriment.