The pragmatic guide to where to stay for SXSW would tell you that staying anywhere near Downtown Austin during SXSW will not only cost the prettiest penny, but will also be booked well in advance. And, to a great degree, that book would be correct. However, if you’ve decided to attend SXSW 2016 for either the Film, Interactive or Music segments, there is good, if not great, news – $400 a night and up is not your only option.
With the increased development of luxury hotels in and near Downtown, the competition has certainly gotten steep for the high dollar SXSW visitors. However, the effect it has had on more reasonably priced hotels in the area is that they have gotten even more reasonable. A cursory search on Kayak revealed hotels along the I-35 corridor, both just north and just south of SXSW’s Downtown epicenter.
For example, the rates at many hotels near the airport or south of Ben White are below the $400 threshold, and many of those hotels provide a complimentary Downtown shuttle. Springhill Suites South, for example, has availability and a rate that never breaches $320 per night and dips as low as $147 during the heart of the SXSW schedule. Before you book a stay, we recommend calling the hotel and asking if they provide a shuttle to and from the convention center during SXSW. Not only will it save you the cost and hassle of parking, or the cost of a rental car, but it buys you even more time to plan out a day while riding the shuttle.
None of this takes into account the extremely low rates, should you choose to stay in the Domain and Arboretum areas, where nightly prices barely get above $250 and dip down below $100, depending on your preferences. These areas boast not only safety, but a safe distance from the chaotic downtown streets and nightlife.
For the truly intrepid, however, we suggest looking to the intersection of 183 and 620, nearer to Cedar Park and Leander than Downtown. While it may seem distant, there will be a convenient and easy ability to get from that area to the direct heart of SXSW and back – at nearly all hours of the day – during those days (more on that to come). The Home2Suites in Cedar Park/North Austin, for example, has every amenity and the lowest rates of any suite in the Austin metropolitan area. And, if you can maneuver the secret of SXSW (again, more to come – stay tuned to SX60), any of the hotels in the North Austin area are fair game.
The longer you wait, the more it will take, so be sure, whatever your plan, to get involved as soon as possible in your SXSW stay. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the renegade/true-SXSW-veteran ways to stay, not only on the cheap, but with a whole lot of party involved.