I spent much of Labor Day weekend in Austin, and decided to stay at the Hyatt Regency there. Rates were on the high side, perhaps largely due to a Longhorns football game that everyone on property seemed to be going to, so I used my annual free night from the Hyatt Visa. (While the card comes with two free nights at any Hyatt as a signup bonus, each year cardmembers are credited with one free night valid at a ‘category 4’ hotel or lower, the best value category 4 is often considered to be the Hyatt 48Lex in New York but the Hyatt Regency Austin is a category 4 hotel as well).
You can’t make an award reservation and a paid reservation together online, but offline there’s no problem in doing so. I created one reservation when I combined the two free nights from the Hyatt Visa with two paid nights and use of a confirmed upgrade certificate when I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Singapore back in February.
When I checked in, though, the hotel at first couldn’t find my reservation. I had given them my name and the agent at the desk searched and searched. I pulled out my confirmation number and they found it ‘in a different system’ and seemed confused that it ‘didn’t transfer over’. No worries, while they were mostly full they had an upgraded river view room for me.
They explained that as my Diamond breakfast amenity I could take breakfast in the restaurant, just order and breakfast would be taken off the bill. I was asked whether I wanted the food or beverage amenity (why do so many Hyatts offer one or the other when it’s supposed to be a food and beverage amenity?), and whether I wanted 4pm late checkout. I chose the points, and let them know I wouldn’t need late checkout. I was also given two free drink coupons for use in the bar ‘for the inconvenience’ of checkin taking a bit longer than it might have, though there really wasn’t any inconvenience at all.
The hotel reminded me of an Embassy Suites, with an atrium and skylight in the center and rooms built out around the sides.
The elevators had one side made of glass looking into the atrium.
There’s also a coffee shop off the lobby.
My room on the 14th floor was nice, clean, and perfectly functional. The highlight was the view of the city out over the river.
The bedroom featured a desk, albeit with insufficient outlets (which is why I carry a compact power strip wherever I travel) and comfortable desk chair, and a lounging chair by the window.
We picked Uchiko for dinner, though its sister restaurant Uchi is quite close to the hotel. Uchiko had reservations available, Uchi did not. Japanese may sound like an odd choice but it was excellent, and the last thing I was going to want to get started on was barbecue since I had a plan for that laid out for the following two days.
Austin is an interesting city, it’s the capital of Texas but it’s more San Francisco or rather Portland than it is Dallas or Houston. When I was in Portland a couple months back there were t-shirts everywhere, “Keep Portland Weird.” It’s a hipster city, skewered in the TV comedy Portlandia (“where the dream of the 90’s is alive”). Arriving in the Austin airport were similar “Keep Austin Weird” t-shirts. There’s decent dining, and a vibrant food truck culture as I’d find out later in my stay.
Returning to the hotel after dinner, there was a lot of noise coming from the next room over. It was a group of people, just talking though loudly. I hadn’t noticed coming into the room somehow that it was set up as an adjoining room, and that seemed to make all the difference.
I went down to the front desk and they were happy to change rooms for me, although they didn’t have a lot to offer.
They first suggested upgrading me to a river view room with a patio. But I was a little bit gun shy over the noise, since that’s what I was trying to escape, and I thought that the patio might mean folks in the next room would be outside. The patios are connected, and that might make things even louder. It probably would have been fine, and a nicer room, so I declined. Instead I took another river view king this time on the sixth floor. It wasn’t an adjoining room, and I didn’t have any problems with noise.
Breakfast at the hotel is in their restaurant on the second floor, which is an escalator’s ride up from the lobby.
I’m not a fan of most hotel breakfast buffets. Unless it’s in Asia, or at a really top end hotel, I’ll almost always prefer to order off the menu. They had an omelet station and the usual trays of eggs, sausage, bacon, platters of fruit. And though they looked to be doing a decent job with it, I think the decision to go with cooked to order was the right one.
The South Austin Eggs Benedict were quite good, with chorizo, avocado, and a chipotle hollandaise over a biscuit.
One shouldn’t ever actually order a bagel in Texas, but the smoked salmon was surprisingly good as well.
Interestingly, when the check came to sign it asterisked the orange juice as an item that would not earn Gold Passport points, and that one could not redeem Gold Passport points to pay for. If anyone knows the reason for that, I’d love it if you’d share it with me!
At checkout most of the tip that I left was still on my bill, though the rest of breakfast had been taken off. I’m often left curious as to the amount credited on a breakfast order with Hyatt, I’m pretty sure the full amount was supposed to be credited to me (what I ordered was less than the cost of the full buffet). I had simply had the hotel email me the folio, I didn’t see it before leaving the property, so need to follow up to ask about the $5 charge.
The other meal in Austin that wasn’t barbecue consisted of visiting local food trucks. There were two dessert trucks worth highlighting. The first was Holy Cacao at the South Austin Trailer Park & Eatery.
The second was Bananarchy. I’m now a big fan of the ‘banarchist movement’.
The Hyatt Regency Austin absolutely did the trick, it’s clean and comfortable and the river location was great. I’d just be careful next time to ensure I’m not assigned to a connecting room, to avoid the risk of noisy neighbors.
(Note that the Hyatt Visa offers a referral credit to me if you use my link when applying, which I greatly appreciate.)