Why Choosing a Spa Hotel Is the Best Austin Travel Hack — and Where to Book
On a trip to this buzzing Texas city, be sure to slow down and take some time to unwind.
If you’ve been to Austin in the past few years, it’s clear that the city is quickly changing and growing. More skyscrapers are being built, the tech world has made its move to the Texas hotspot, and restaurants, bars, breweries, and event venues are providing plenty of upgrades and amenities to the hoards of visitors and new residents flocking to the Lone Star State.
But it’s not all bachelorette parties, country music, cold beer, and barbecue; in fact, there are several places in Austin where you can escape, relax, and rejuvenate — you just have to know where to look. More often than not, these moments of stillness and peace are found in the city’s hotels and accompanying spas, refuges from the heat, crowds, and seemingly limitless activities. So while you can choose to spend the day hopping on a Lime e-scooter, swimming in Barton Springs, or roaming the shops on South Congress, it’s here in Austin’s spa hotels where you can find true escapism.
Whether you’re looking for something downtown or a retreat out in the Hill Country, there’s a place of relaxation for every type of traveler who finds themselves soaking in the culture of Austin, Texas.
Austin Proper Hotel
Every corner of the Austin Proper Hotel, the Texas outpost of the Proper Hospitality brand, radiates sophistication and top-of-the-line curation. Designed by Kelly Wearstler, the hotel is its own world full of visual curiosities (like the mirrored bat shapes on the ceiling and carpet in the Mirabeau Ballroom) and exquisite settings (a cocktail at guest-and-resident-only Goldie’s is the perfect start or end of a night out). But nowhere in the hotel feels as special and distinctly Austin as Verbena Spa. The property’s buzzy restaurants, outdoor pool, and sundeck may be where you partake in the social scene, but those activities are best balanced by one of the treatments offered by the spa’s seasoned therapists. Perusing the spa menu, you’ll stumble across one particular massage named “Austin: The Proper Way.” In true Texas fashion, the treatment begins with a sip of Casa del Sol Blanco Tequila — but it’s all a part of the reflective, sensory meditative experience. A detoxifying, relaxing massage follows suit.
Austin may be known for its range of downtown and riverside attractions, but an adventure up to the Hill Country is a requirement for those in search of a peaceful retreat. Miraval Austin is one of those unforgettable, must-return properties — the kind you experience and immediately bank in your mind as a life-changing trip. Part of this stems from the location, a quiet, airy sanctuary tucked into the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve above Lake Travis. Most of it, though, comes from the property’s 360-degree approach to wellness. It’s not all effective facials and 90-minute massages — although those are certainly key aspects of the resort. At Miraval Austin, guests are encouraged to take a variety of classes where they’re challenged physically, mentally, and emotionally. For example, there’s a Cardio Drumming class, perfect for getting your frustration with your boss, friend, or partner out on a Bosu ball. Instead of your in-app meditation, experience mindfulness while gently swinging in a silk hammock to the healing sounds of singing bowls. The list of classes, services, and treatments is extensive and ever-changing, so spending at least three days at the Miraval property is recommended for a truly immersive experience.
Luxury is the name of the game at Fairmont Austin, a sky-high hotel three blocks away from the famed Congress Avenue Bridge. The second you step into the grand, marbled lobby, it’s clear that service and high-end experiences are part of the package. This is particularly true of the hotel’s spa, a serene getaway with saline soaking pools, dry heat saunas, and eucalyptus steam grottos. Here, guests are encouraged to experience world-class treatments — the Ultimate Oxygen Facial and Fairmont Austin Personalized Massage among them — and indulge in the kind of pampering that sets the Fairmont brand apart from its competition. The on-property location is ideal for an afternoon pick-me-up, after a morning swim at the rooftop pool and before drinks at caviar and Champagne bar Room 725 or dinner at Garrison.
Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa
Another Texas Hill Country property earns its name on this list thanks to its all-encompassing services and spacious spa. The Omni Barton Creek Resort & Spa is a property that caters to the whole family, with four golf courses, three pools, and more than 30 weekly fitness classes — but its spa is where you’ll go for head-to-toe rejuvenation. You can (and should) spend a full day at Mokara Spa, where its “focus on restoration of the mind, body, and spirit” presents as facial and body treatments, massages, nail care, makeup services, a fully-functioning hair salon, and healthy cuisine options at the Spa Creek Café. Between treatments, the lounges, dry saunas, whirlpools, and steam rooms are available for guests to peruse and enjoy. Does it get more luxurious than an anti-aging facial followed by a hot stone massage and pedicure? Probably not.
Four Seasons Austin
One of the benefits of booking a room at a Four Seasons hotel is the assurance that no detail will be overlooked during your stay. It’s no different at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin, a lakeside property with a spa outfitted with a holistic range of services. Conveniently, the property is in the heart of downtown Austin, but the hotel spa feels removed from the city’s hubbub. The Himalayan salt wall in the relaxation lounge and the eucalyptus-infused steam rooms are just the beginning of the Four Seasons’ spa experience. Guests can choose signature treatments (like the HydraFacial™ or the Four Seasons Sensory Experience), seasonal treatments (this winter, these include the Fire + Ice Massage and Snow’s Kiss Facial), as well as numerous others facials, massages, and body treatments. As is on par with a Four Seasons stay, it’s all about personalization and luxury — with guests leaving completely relaxed and refreshed.
There’s a good chance that if you’re in Austin, you’re there to celebrate a wedding or a bachelor or bachelorette party. If you think you may overindulge on the first night of festivities or you’ll need a total reset once the weekend wraps, prebook the Morning After Scrub and Wrap at Hotel Zaza’s aptly named ZaSpa. The hotel’s downtown location is ideal if you’re coming from the city’s surrounding areas, so it’s perfect for fitting in a trip to the spa before dinner or prior to an afternoon flight. The treatment itself is a full 90 minutes of a sea salt scrub, detoxifying seaweed wrap, and finally, a full body massage.
The newest opening on the list, The Loren at Lady Bird Lake started welcoming guests to its hotel and spa in October 2022. Given its lakeside location, it’s well on its way to becoming a destination for travelers in need of a relaxing weekend away. The property’s 5,000-square-foot Milk + Honey Spa, on the first floor of the hotel, offers guests (and those just in the area) all-natural and Medspa treatments — everything from Swedish-style deep tissue massages to manicures and laser treatments.
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