As one of the most significantly iconic buildings within the Austin skyline, The Driskill Hotel provides guests the opportunity to sample the the opulent hospitality of yesteryear coupled with the amenities of contemporary world-class lodging.
Built in 1886, the stately Driskill was immediately frequented by guests from the nearby Capital and eventually became a destination for travelers who arrived first by horse and buggy, then by early automobiles. Today, it carefully preserves that history with 189 guestrooms and suites with two distinct wings and award winning dining establishments. The signature suites each have a story to tell. For instance, the Cattle Baron suite was built for the hotel’s founder, Colonel Jesse Driskill. Governor Jim Hogg stayed here during his tenure from 1891 to 1895, with his wife, daughter and dog, whose presence started the pet-friendly policy that remains. Lyndon B. Johnson considered the hotel lucky, as the place where he discovered that he won a Senate seat in 1948, the Presidency in 1964, and where he won the heart of his future bride, “Lady Bird” Johnson. Romance prevails at the Driskill, as the opulently appointed hotel caters to couples, weddings and vacations. While honoring the past of Austin, the Driskill manages to celebrate the modern as well. Welcoming the energy of the live music for which the city is known, the Driskill Grill and 1886 Café and Bakery reward visitors with Texan cuisine that is as delicious as one would expect from such a distinguished destination. For example, burgers satisfy the comfort food requirements of late-nighters, as specialty cakes—like a University of Texas tower cake—recognize special occasions. Whether relaxing under the 18-foot custom-carved ceilings, on guestroom or suite balconies overseeing the city or in the grand lobby, visitors are sure to make their own history at the Driskill.
Romance prevails at the Driskill, as the opulently appointed hotel caters to couples, weddings and vacations.
Many events have defined the legendary Driskill over its 127 years with the fine reputation it retains today. Here are just a few:
- The hotel was built on Congress Street, now Brazos Street, and 6th Street for the state capitol.
- The Driskill Mezzanine was originally designed as a large open area overlooking the grand lobby to allow air circulation before air conditioning was introduced.
- The ballroom was built as the dining room, the Maximilian suite was the gentlemen’s parlor and the Jim Hogg suite was the ladies’ parlor. The grand lobby hosted the first outbound phone call made in central Texas.
- The Jim Hogg suite hosted Texas rangers before they pursued Bonnie and Clyde.
- The hotel was saved from demolition by the citizens of Austin in 1969.
- The hotel placed mirrors from the imperial palace of Emperor Maximilian I in his namesake suite, which some say reflect the spirit of a woman in white.
By: Greg Root
Photos: Allen Carrasco and Courtesy of The Driskill Hotel