This is the story of a tired Austin old-timer now transformed into a boutique hotel and proudly restored as a landmark architectural jewel of Central Texas.
We began this summer with our Escape To — Nowhere series. As we further explore the evolving social distancing landscape of summer 2020, we’re introducing the Great Escape series.
First up in our new series, and part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, the newly opened Commodore Perry Estate sits amidst the urban landscape of Austin, just north of the UT campus.
With its beautiful cream-colored limestone, the Mansion’s facade is stunning, albeit a little incongruous nestled between an older strip center and the historic Hancock golf course. (Note: The golf course is currently closed due to COVID-19.)
The estate belonged to Mr. and Mrs. Perry in the first half of the 19th century and was their “country home,” as they lived in downtown Austin. (Which is now funny as the two are just a few miles apart). The estate sits on 10 acres and phase one of the renovation is just about complete; phase two will be in process next year.
The original mansion, only two stories, has maintained quite a bit of its original design and aesthetic. Built in 1928 and part of the National Historical Places program, you’ll be wowed by the original doors and tile found throughout. Many of the interior furnishings were plucked from nearby Round Top antique shows. The entire space exudes an Italian Renaissance vibe with a sprinkling of Spanish zeal.
Downstairs features two dining areas (check out the emerald green table tops), the living room bar (where you can enjoy Punchbowl Social after 5pm) and over-the-top bathrooms.
Upstairs in the mansion, are five suites (yet to be opened as of the writing of this article). Each suite is named after someone near and dear to the property. My favorite is the LaVerne suite (she was the caretaker of the property) with its popping pink wallpaper, a “not so dumb” waiter and posh bathroom. The pink tile in the bathroom is absolutely the strawberry icing on the cake for this suite.
The Edgar suite (the only son of Mr. and Mrs. Perry) is much more masculine, yet just as ostentatious. The Hal Thompson suite gives ode to the estate’s architect with a southwestern theme. The Mr. Perry suite combined with the Mrs. Perry suite equals the ample presidential suite. My favorite aspect here is the cork wallpaper!
The newly built inn houses 49 rooms (42 guest rooms + 7 suites) of the boutique hotel. The simple lobby blends well with the inn decor, with its beautiful limestone staircases. As far as social distancing goes, everyone–including staff and guests–are wearing masks in the inn, yet we never passed another guest in the hallway so we felt secluded enough.
The inn rooms are “large and in charge” with luxe bedding, an in-room espresso set-up and a patio (ours overlooked the estate driveway). The bathroom features a separate toilet and a gorgeous dark stained walk-in shower.
The grounds of the estate boast a variety of fruit trees, including olive, fig and even pineapple. You’ll also find a 4,000-square foot garden (featuring a statue of the Greek god Pan), the beautiful (newly added) pool popping with yellow and white umbrellas, the front lawn dotted with picnic shades (more on that later), a chapel and a restaurant (to be opened in the fall) called Lutie’s. Guests also have access to a 24-hour fitness center featuring state-of-the-art machines offering access to just about any app from Netflix to Facebook.
In terms of dining, guests are welcome to eat indoors (especially, due to the summer heat). However, in terms of social distancing, there are an array of outdoor dining options.
If you’re enjoying your reserved block of time at the pool, order from the poolside menu where you’ll find cool smoothies like the “juicy” (peach, orange and mango), tacos, housemade chips or grilled shrimp. Pair that with a local 512 IPA or other adult beverage.
You can also dine on the Loggia (“porch” in Italian) with a view of the beautiful front lawn. Dinner on the Loggia might even include an accompaniment of live music. Off the dinner menu, I recommend starting with the Estate Bread, served with brown butter. The Green Corn Hushpuppies are small but mighty. Entree choices range from the basic Commodore’s Cheeseburger to the more gourmet catch of the day or the Tallegio Caramelle, a unique pasta featuring sungold tomatoes and roasted corn. Pair any of these with a crisp chilled Presqu’ile chardonnay from Santa Barbara County, California.
For a real treat, have a breakfast picnic on the lawn. You’ll be graced by delicious choices featuring local sustainable foods, starting with the Sunrise Sandwich, layering bacon, egg and pimento cheese on a housemade roll, paired with “home fries” covered in a brown butter and onion sauce. If you order the Avocado Toast, you’ll delight in the aged goat cheese and the sprouts from the onsite garden. If you’re looking for lighter fare, try the Pecan Granola, yogurt topped with Texas peaches. Any item on the menu will shine, paired with a cappuccino, some good company, and a nice morning breeze which will create a breakfast to remember.
The Commodore Perry Estate beckons an escape during this quarantine with its throwback to yesteryear. Nightly rates begin at $525.
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Cover photo Douglas Friedman
Marika Flatt is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. She’s enjoying “getting back out there” with her family of five, while maintaining social distance and wearing a mask when needed. You can hear her “Weekend Trip Tips” on the statewide NPR show, Texas Standard.