The ‘live music capital of the world,’ Austin, is definitely one of the most LGBTQ-friendly places in America with its liberal approach and creative mindset. Touted as one of the ‘Gayest Cities in America,’ Austin is one of the most popular Southern destinations among the LGBTQ community. As such, you’ll find plenty of gay hotels in Austin, many of which are clustered around downtown and the South Congress (SoCo) neighborhoods. It’s also where most of the city’s gay bars and clubs are located. Even though there are no exclusively LGBTQ hotels in Austin, there are plenty of options where the staff is very warm and welcoming. Besides the location, we’ve chosen this list based on the budget, the amenities offered by the hotels, as well as the categories of hotels. Furthermore, since travelers have different preferences, we’ve tried to include everything from branded/chain hotels to smaller, boutique ones too.
However, we found exploring Austin exciting even beyond its gay scene. Exploring the city was great because of its unique mix of cowboys and hipsters, great food, stunning natural attractions, and abundance of live music venues. Since we’re music lovers, we started off our exploration with the Austin Live Music Crawl, which was a great way to experience Austin’s music scene.
Austin is everything we imagined – and more.
Table of contents
- W Austin Hotel
- Four Seasons Austin
- Hotel San Jose
- Hyatt Regency Austin
- Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt
- Wyndham Garden Austin
- The Westin Austin Downtown
- The Driskill
- Omni Hotel Downtown
- Park Lane Guest House
- Austin Motel
- Our Verdict!
- Just So You Know:
W Austin Hotel
The W Hotel chain is no stranger to the LGBT community because of its gay-friendly hospitality and openness. Like its counterparts in other cities such as Barcelona and Miami, the W Austin is one of the more popular LGBT hotels in Austin because of its location. Situated in downtown Austin just a few blocks south of the gay strip in the Warehouse district, this swanky 37-story hotel is easily one of the swishest hotels we’ve stayed in.
The W has a minimalist vibe but maintains its tasteful style throughout the hotel. We especially loved the silver and blue tones in the rooms, which are accentuated by red settees. What’s more, all rooms have modern amenities like iPod docking stations and espresso machines. While the Wi-fi is chargeable in the rooms, it’s free in common areas. The Bliss spa products in the stylish bathrooms blissed us out, especially after a long day of exploring the city.
Of all the amenities, W’s WET Deck on the 4th floor is our absolute favorite. The party-focused pool deck is also a big draw for locals on the weekends, thanks to the adjacent bar and lounge chairs. During the days that we rested, we enjoyed the DJ spinning tunes while sipping on cocktails and watching beautiful people. On the same floor, you’ll also find the spa and a fitness center.
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Four Seasons Austin
Most luxurious. With a beautiful location in downtown Austin near Lady Bird Lake and in close proximity to every kind of attraction, we found luxury in the form of the Four Seasons. It’s one of the most luxurious gay friendly hotels in Austin and is also a favorite with the city’s elite. In fact, we spotted many celebrities here enjoying lunch and indulging in some Austin-style pampering.
We were greeted by an elegant lobby with sophisticated Southwestern-style decor as we entered the hotel. The grounds of the hotel are impressive, especially since they have an expansive green lawn where we’d take long walks. While the hotel has a fitness center, it’s the outdoor saltwater pool with lounge chairs that we loved. Since it could get humid in the city, the pool was the perfect place to cool off. Moreover, the onsite restaurant, Ciclo, is one of the best places in the city to enjoy Latin cuisine – and we agree. However, the place where we completely forgot ourselves was the treatment rooms at the hotel’s spa. That’s why it’s one of the best hotel spas in Austin, Texas.
The fact that the rooms and suites are spacious helped us spread out. Moreover, the soft neutral palette, plush beds, and swish bathrooms with Bvlgari products helped us relax. Taking the experience further was the superb views of the lake from the dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows – be sure to ask for that.
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Hotel San Jose
Best boutique hotel. While looking for unique hotels in Austin, we stumbled upon the intimate ‘bungalow style’ boutique hotel that is Hotel San Jose. This hotel, which was originally built in 1939 as a motel, turns the phrase ‘everything’s bigger in Texas’ on its head. The best part about the hotel is its location in the center of South Congress, one of the trendiest neighborhoods in Austin. Plus, it’s close to Austin’s gay nightlife, so much so that we could easily walk down to the city’s best gay clubs and bars. Plus, some of the most iconic music venues in the state are located in SoCo.
We loved the hotel’s stylish yet minimalist design aesthetic. The music library stole our hearts, and we were able to borrow everything from Polaroid cameras to bicycles at the front desk. Despite being a boutique hotel, it has a lovely small swimming pool, where we enjoyed relaxing swims. Later on, we unwound with snacks and drinks in the outdoor lounge. As night fell, we retired to the chic yet minimalist rooms, which come equipped with soft beds, pretty floral linens, and pristine bathrooms with Malin + Goetz products.
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Hyatt Regency Austin
There is no shortage of classy LGBT hotels in downtown Austin, as is evident from the Hyatt Regency. This hotel has a great location on the shores of Lady Bird Lake. So, unsurprisingly, the views of the lake and the city skyline are quite stunning from the hotel. What’s even better about the location is that we could reach everywhere within 15 minutes, including the Sixth Street Entertainment District, Downtown, and the gay scene at SoCo.
The first thing that struck us about this hotel is the 17-story sky-lit atrium, complete with the largest floor-to-ceiling windows we’ve ever seen in our lives. Guest rooms received a complete makeover in 2016, and it shows. We liked the soft neutral palette adorning the spacious rooms, which offer great views of the lake and the city. However, the most striking feature in the decor of the rooms is the black and white music theme artwork. For the best experience, we chose a lake-facing room, and we suggest you do the same.
Leisure spaces include an outdoor pool and whirlpool, where we did most of our unwinding, a fitness center, and three drinking and dining options.
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Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt
The gay-friendly Kimpton Hotel brand is no stranger to the LGBT community, with luxurious properties in cities like Portland, Washington DC, and London. That’s why we were dying to try out one of the best gay hotels in Austin in the form of the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt. The hotel has a fantastic location in the Rainey Street Historic District, putting it within easy strolling distance of the best entertainment and dining in Austin, as well as its nightlife.
Like its counterparts in other cities, the Kimpton has a stylish and sophisticated appeal with a host of amenities. The rooms here are spacious and tastefully decorated in calm blues and cool grays with wooden furnishings and bronze accents. While we had the choice of many categories of rooms, we went for the spa guestrooms for an elevated experience. Not only did they boast gorgeous views, but they also had a huge soaking tub in the bathroom right next to a huge bay window. For us, it was the ultimate in luxury living.
Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt is big on amenities. We especially liked the rooftop pool, where we swam with superb views of the historic district. Later on, we headed to the evening wine hour, followed by a fabulous night at the live music venue, complete with drinks. A 24-hour fitness center and the fact that it’s pet-friendly also scored the hotel brownie points.
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Wyndham Garden Austin
Best value for money. It’s a 10-minute drive to the South Congress and about a 20-minute drive to downtown from the Wyndham Garden Hotel. Hence, it made for a great base for us as we preferred staying slightly away from all the noise and the bustle.
The five-floor hotel has a rustic Texas charm to it and doesn’t skimp on amenities at the same time. We liked the cozy, bright rooms, which come with a Southern-inspired flair. While they’re not the swishest of digs, they do come with all the modern amenities we could think of, including flatscreen TVs, small fridges, and even coffee-making facilities. The comfortable beds and spacious bathrooms with shower/tub combos stocked with free toiletries wrap up the amenities in the rooms.
What stands out about the hotel is that it has offerings outside of the rooms too. We appreciated the decent-sized outdoor pool with a hot tub, which was maintained very well. Thanks to the loungers, we could relax after a swim and not have to head back to the room immediately. wrapping up the amenities here are the restaurant and bar. As such, it has a laid-back and quiet vibe, putting it high on the list of gay friendly hotels in Austin.
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The Westin Austin Downtown
The Westin‘s location, just half a block from Austin’s gay district, makes it one of the more sought-after gay hotels in Austin. We chose it also because it’s just a block away from the vibrant Sixth Street as well, which is the city’s main party venue. Besides the vibrant nightlife, other attractions in the city are also within easy walking distance or a short drive away. Since we wanted to explore Austin in its entirety, this Downtown hotel made perfect sense.
This classy and contemporary hotel impressed us the minute we stepped inside, with features like a vertical garden wall and ceilings with floral cutouts. The vibe and impressions continued in the stylish and spacious guest rooms, which had all modern conveniences and ensuite bathrooms. Of them all, we especially loved the corner rooms since they afforded two walls of huge glass windows with mesmerizing views of Downtown Austin.
What we loved about the hotel’s amenities was the rooftop heated pool, complete with sun loungers and a chic pool bar. On days when Austin got hot – and it got very humid, mind you – we’d lie on the sun loungers after a swim and enjoy a cocktail from the pool bar. Although the hotel does not have a spa, it does have a 24/7 gym. We didn’t have to go far to enjoy Southern food, though, for it has an onsite Southern restaurant.
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Best heritage hotel. Since we love ourselves a little bit of history, The Driskill offered us just the right dose of it. Built way back in 1886, this beautifully restored hotel is representative of a bygone era. Its location in the heart of the famous Sixth Street is what made us choose it and makes it a popular choice for LGBT hotels in Austin.
The Driskill is an unmistakable landmark in a sea of modern buildings with its stately 19th-century architecture. We found its interiors just as impressive, complete with towering columns and a stained glass ceiling in the lobby. It certainly made for excellent pictures for our Instagram! The elegant yet non-dated guest rooms had similar interiors, with high ceilings with a ceiling fan and furnishings that reflect the hotel’s history. The Victorian Suites in the original building came highly recommended, and they did not fail to impress when we stayed there.
The Driskill may not have a pool, but turns out we didn’t feel the need for it here! Besides the modern fitness center, we loved dining at the award-winning restaurant. When we wanted to explore the neighborhood, the concierge was very helpful in figuring out a rough itinerary. The most memorable thing, however, was the monthly beer dinners that we attended at the onsite 1886 Café & Bakery. It featured a four-course dinner and beers from a local brewery.
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Omni Hotel Downtown
Upscale gay hotels in Austin are definitely not in short supply, with the Omni Hotel in downtown Austin being another excellent hotel. It sits within easy walking distance of the gay nightlife and Downtown, where most of Austin’s nightlife, dining, and entertainment is located. Even though we ran into mostly business travelers, that did not stop us from liking this hotel. The stylish rooftop pool and bar with a lounge area are one of the main attractions, especially since they offer standout views of the city. Besides that, we also liked the presence of the large fitness center and the restaurant, where we had our breakfast every morning.
We were impressed by the rooms and suites at the Omni too. They have Texas-inspired touches with leather studded chairs and cowhide ottomans. The features and the space are more pronounced in the executive suites, which feature Texas themes. Nevertheless, most rooms overlook the glass and steel atrium, so you could literally pick a room depending on how much space you want.
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Park Lane Guest House
Just minutes away from the main attractions in the city, we found the urban eco-oasis that is the Park Lane Guest House. It’s just two blocks from South Congress Avenue, and Downtown is an easy stroll from here. This gay-friendly bed & breakfast is run by a lesbian couple and is a hidden gem amidst all the swanky buildings of the neighborhood.
Since we were looking for a B&b rather than a hotel, we heard rave reviews about Park Lake, which has been in service for over two decades. So much so that this B&B has gradually become an absolute favorite with the LGBT community visiting Austin. Choose from four elegant cottages that range in size from the small Vicky House to the large Garden Cottage. We went for the largest of the lot, the Garden Cottage, which featured pine floors, antique Euorapn stained glass, and vaulted ceilings. It even had French doors that opened onto a private porch and deck!
Outside, we loved the mosaic glass tiled pool in the shade of an oak tree, where we’d spend lazy summer mornings enjoying a refreshing swim. Besides onsite massages, we also enjoyed freshly prepared organic vegetarian breakfasts every day. When the weather is nice, the hosts even arrange for an alfresco breakfast. Sigh.
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The old-school Austin Motel is one of the few remaining ‘tourist courts’ that opened everywhere in the country during the mid-20th century. Opened in 1938, the hotel has since adapted to the times but retains its vintage vibe, which is what we were looking forward to. The retro vibe, along with its location along the trendy stretch of South Congress, is what pushes it to the top of affordable gay hotels in Austin. In fact, you’ll find many popular gay hangouts and night spots within walking distance of the hotel.
The bright retro-themed rooms may not suit everyone’s taste, but we absolutely loved them as they harked back to Austin’s past. What’s more, they’re equipped with modern amenities to ensure that we had a comfortable stay. In fact, each room is unique when it comes to decor with unpretentious well-chosen antiques, framed paintings, and offbeat murals. You can choose from various categories of rooms ranging from very compact to larger suites, which is what we went for.
Downstairs, the kidney-shaped pool with its loungers is the most popular spot on the property. It’s where we would be on a hot Austin day when we weren’t exploring the city. Other onsite amenities include an open-air eatery, bike rentals, and Joann’s Fine Foods.
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While we found all these gay friendly hotels in Austin amazing, chances are that different travelers prefer some hotels over others for their features. That’s why we’ve come up with a specialized list below:
- Best value for money: Wyndham Garden Austin
- Best heritage hotel: The Driskill
- Best boutique hotel: Hotel San Jose
- Most luxurious: Four Seasons Austin
Just So You Know:
- Shortly after the Stonewall riots in 1970, the LGBT movement in Austin was born. However, it only had an attendance of 25 individuals.
- Austin’s first Gay and Lesbian Pride Fiesta began in 1990.
- Hippie Hollow Park, located on the shore of Lake Travis in northwest Austin, is the only legally recognized clothing-optional public park in the entire state. One section of the park is highly popular with the LGBT community, and several events are held here.
Get Some Culture in Austin:
- Splash Days Austin – Touted as Austin’s largest and best gay dance party weekend, this event is held in September, closer to the Labour Day Weekend. The biggest party happens at the clothing-optional Hippy Hollow Beach.
- Austin Electric Bike City Sightseeing Tour – This amazing electric bike tour is an excellent way to check out Austin’s best landmarks, including monuments, murals, and more. Hop on to the pedal-assist E-bike and have a knowledgeable tour guide tell you everything there is about Austin’s history.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Austin:
- Rain On 4th – This rollicking club lies in Austin’s gay district and has an epic dance floor, newbie drag queens, and great music, which makes it pretty special.
- Highland Lounge – Don’t be fooled by the name; this venue is far from a lounge. In fact, it’s a sprawling multi-level gay club with five bars located on Colorado Street. It’s open only from Friday to Sunday.
- Oilcan Harrys – A staple on Austin’s gay scene, this club on 4th Street has been around since the 1990s. A spacious dance floor, themed parties, and weekly drag shows are what you can expect here.
Best Gay Saunas in Austin:
Austin may be one of the gayest cities in the United States, but it does not have a bathhouse. Sadly, one of Austin’s longest-running gay spas, the Midtowne Spa, recently closed due to the owners retiring. For a traditional sauna, your best bet would be at one of the hotels. That said, we’re hoping to see gay saunas in this lovely Southern city soon!