#TXAway: The Carpenter Hotel, Austin

by Marika Flatt on January 27, 2021 in Travel, Austin,
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Austin Carpenters Local 1266 completed its new union hall on South Lamar in 1949. Union members and the Ladies Auxiliary hosted meetings, dances and barbecues there until 2014. Then, sitting in a prime location just one block south of Lady Bird Lake and the Hike and Bike Trail, it became a target for demolition.

Until The Mighty Union stepped in.

The Mighty Union creates new hospitality ventures out of historic buildings. They are currently at work opening a new hotel in San Antonio and another one in Honolulu. 

The Carpenter Hotel is in an old union hall, in a grove of pecan trees, at the edge of Zilker park, near pretty much everything that epitomizes the spirit of Austin. Courtesy photo

Fast forward, and in November 2018 The Carpenter Hotel opened with 93 rooms, all with balconies but four different styles. There’s a large king, a small king, a simple queen, and a double. The rooms are extremely minimalistic with concrete ceilings and brick walls, beds low to the ground and a starkness about them. We loved the ‘60s/’70s vintage vibe of the rooms with the rotary dial phone on the wall and the vintage folding chairs on the balcony. There’s an endearing overall groovy motif. 

The largest room at The Carpenter has a king bed with twin-sized daybed, a terrace, blackout shutters and more accommodations for your comfort. Courtesy photo

LOCATION

They’ve done such a good job of repurposing the former union hall that, in 2020, The Mighty Union was a deserving winner of a Preservation Merit Award from Preservation Austin. These awards are an annual recognition of visionary approaches to preserving the city’s unique architectural, cultural and environmental heritage.

A shady walkway joins the historic union hall building, now used for the hotel’s reception, restaurant and coffee shop, to the new four-story building housing 93 guest rooms, with a striking concrete and terra cotta design. Courtesy photo

Of course, The Carpenter is all about location, location, location. Being one block from the trail and only a few blocks away from Zilker Park, known by some as Austin’s Central Park, you’re front and center in the heart and soul of Austin. It’s easy to get lost in the relaxed vibe of Barton Springs Road, with ample locations for cold beverages and delicious dining. 

RELAXATION

Speaking of dining, you can enjoy The Carpenter’s coffee shop, Hot L Coffee, from 8am to 3pm from a to-go window. Here they offer all types of coffees and even breakfast tacos. 

You can also enjoy a cold beer, such as a Zilker IPA, next to the new pool that features heaps of shade in a relaxed setting. The hotel development project preserved pecan trees wherever possible and milled damaged trees for use in the gorgeous interiors.

The Carpenter’s coffee shop, Hot L Coffee, offers coffee, tacos, kolaches and more. Photo courtesy Preservation Austin

The piece de resistance is having dinner at the on-site restaurant, Carpenters Hall, boasting a delightful outside patio, and a wonderful indoor setting as well. Along with the hotel’s reception and coffee shop, it sits in the historic building of the property. 

Start with a cocktail such as The Gibson, (vodka or gin, dry vermouth and pickled okra) an extremely unique martini. Or, you can enjoy a bottle of wine from the wine list. If you like a bold red, try the P. Jambon 2017 Grenache/Syrah Beaujolais from France ($52). 

Reserve your seats now for a special Valentine’s dinner at the Carpenters Hall restaurant, set in the historic part of the hotel. Dine on oysters and champagne, duck, red wine, and more! Photo Jane Kim

Nosh on the unique Tex Mex appetizer that features jalapeño hummus, pecan baba ganoush and roasted red pepper with feta. If you’re looking for something very simple and casual, you might try the Carpenters Club with bacon, avocado and the Local 300 mole. With a side of french fries, of course. If you’re looking for comfort food, the fried chicken comes with a side of dill potato salad and pepita slaw. They also offer fish, steak and salads. 

The restaurant at The Carpenter offers a delicious menu which includes a variety of options for brunch, drinks, snacks, salads, sandwiches, plates and desserts. Photo Jane Kim

ATTENTION (TO DETAIL)

At The Carpenter, they are doing a wonderful job keeping everything clean and sanitized. They even offer cards in the room that lay out all of the things that have been deep cleaned so that you can rest easy and enjoy your stay: door knobs, control switches, remote, phone, and even the curtain pole, also bathroom surfaces and bath amenities, in addition to hard surfaces and even the terrace. 

A neighborhood spot that just happens to be a hotel, The Carpenter has an outdoor event space that is part pool cabana, part courtyard pavilion. Perfect for private parties. Courtesy photo

Right next to each elevator is ample hand sanitizer, and it doesn’t hurt that it smells like margaritas! Yes, please! 

The large king room goes for approximately $250 per night, depending on season. We recommend this property for a date getaway when you can really enjoy the great outdoors of downtown Austin.

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Cover photo courtesy The Carpenter Hotel

Marika Flatt is the Travel Editor of Texas Lifestyle Magazine. This travel pro loves to hit the road but knows there’s nothing better than being home—especially when you live in the heart of Texas. You can hear her “Weekend Trip Tips” on the statewide NPR show, Texas Standard.

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