Austin’s peak seasons are the spring and fall, when the temperature is more moderate and the city hosts a number of parades, concerts, fairs, and festivals. With enough pre-planning it can still be possible to find lodging for cheap, but if you’re looking for a room last-minute, prepare to either raise your budget or stick solely to economy hotels (and even those might be short on rooms). Rooms will be especially sparse in March, during South by Southwest, and in late September or early October during the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Once November rolls around, the number of available rooms for affordable prices becomes much higher. The shoulder season typically lasts between November and February. Last minute hotel bookings will become easier and the temperature remains in the 50s and 60s most of the winter, which is still quite tolerable for many visitors, and the weather is mild — perfect for enjoying more outdoorsy activities like Austin’s numerous hiking, biking, and horseback trails.
If you can stand the heat, hotel and motel prices drop considerably in the summer. A lack of expense doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do, either: Austin’s welcoming attitude means June hosts one of the country’s biggest PRIDE parades, and there’s also the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival in August. (Not for the faint of heart, or stomach!)
Most hotels with airport shuttles are within a 10-mile radius of the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, meaning that if you want a hotel in the heart of downtown, you’ll have to make other travel arrangements. There are two bus routes that run from the airport to downtown and back every half-hour, but if you’re traveling with multiple bags or a group of people, renting a car or taking a taxi would be a better choice.
If you’re not planning to do much driving during your stay, take a taxi or stay in a hotel with shuttle service. There are still a few hotels near downtown that do offer it, such as the Omni Austin or the Wyndham Garden Hotel, and it will be less expensive to take public transportation than to find a place to park your car: prices for parking in Austin can get as high as $2-$3 for only 30 minutes of parking! Getting a week’s pass to the Austin Metro will only cost you $14 but will give you full access to 65+ bus, rail, and shuttle lines within the city.
6th street is a must-see destination, featuring all sorts of enjoyable Austin entertainment. Shop for clothing, jewelry, art, and souvenirs in its many boutiques, then relax with a craft cocktail at the East Side Showroom or one of its other fantastic restaurants. If you’re into culture, visit the Stephen L. Clark or Clayworks Studio galleries to see paintings and sculptures by some of Austin’s resident artists, or check out an improv comedy show at The Hideout Theater for a laugh.
Most of the hotels within a few blocks of 6th street are luxury hotels that offer rooms in the $200-$300 per night range. If you want to be within walking distance but want to cut your prices down, there are a number of Bed & Breakfast establishments in the area which could reduce your nightly stay down to around $100 per night. Occasionally you might even find rooms as cheap as $60 per night, if you’re searching during the lower seasons and manage to catch a sale.
In general, unless you know you’ll be spending all your time in the area, it’s cheaper to rely on public transportation to get you to and from 6th Street. There are 12 bus stops within a quarter-mile of the 6th Street district, handling just as many routes. You can even take Route 100 to and from the airport if you’d like to get in some final shopping before your return flight.
Again, if you’re traveling to Austin during March or September it’s best to avoid booking last minute, simply because the popularity of Austin’s festivals mean rooms will be scarce. However, it is definitely worth keeping your eyes and schedules open to take advantage of last-minute hotel deals when they happen, and they do happen. Especially in the summer months, when the days get longer and hotter and there are fewer large events, you can snag some absolutely unbelievable deals — even on luxury hotels.
For example: staying at the Omni Barton Creek Resort, a four-star hotel in Southern Austin with a golf course and full-service spa, around $384 per night or more for a standard room. By comparing prices in July, it’s possible to snag the same room for $189 — that’s half the regular cost! And with a large pool, AAA four-diamond restaurant, and air conditioning in every room, the summer heat suddenly doesn’t look so bad.
Looking to spend longer in Austin than a few days? There are ample opportunities to share a home with an Austin native or sublet from a University of Texas student, especially during the summer. If you’re planning to stay for multiple weeks, subletting is a better option: subletting options tend to average out between $900-$1500 per month and offer you more locations. You can rent some homestays or long-stay guesthouses for about that much, but others can cost $500-$900 per week, and the more affordable ones are further from the city center.
If you’re just staying for a few nights, though, checking out a guest house rental site or our HomeAway and Airbnb deals can get you a more realistic, more comfortable, and incredibly unique experience for a better price. If you’re tired of the same old economy hotel living, giving a homestay house a try will definitely shake things up! For less than $75 a night, you could be living in your own (temporary) private guest house with full kitchen, enjoying a garden view from your refurbished camper trailer, or experiencing tiny-home living first-hand.
If you’re a collegiate sports fan looking to catch a Longhorns game, the availability of hotels will depend on which collegiate sport you’re watching and how that overlaps with large events in the high season. Football fans shouldn’t have much to worry about — with college football starting in August and running through the winter, the only time you’ll really need to think about booking ahead will be during the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Otherwise you’re free to take advantage of the dip in tourism by snagging deals during conference and bowl games.
Public transportation to and from the college is ample. There are several bus stops across campus, five of which are within immediate walking distance of Darrel K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. For those seeking faster travel options from their hotel, the new MetroRapid, which provides priority service along North Lamar and South Congress, goes right past the campus and has shuttles arriving every 10-20 minutes.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.
© 2015 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.