Never a Dull Stay!
I've had more than 1 notable night at The Driskill. I've stayed 7 times and every stay was an adventure!
The location helps with the adventure part. There isn't a more happenin' place to be, than 6th Street! (Of course the people who give Austin it's happenin' vibe, don't use that word!) Exploring nearby quirky shops and lively food & music venues can be pretty entertaining. Just people watching from one of the terraces, is good enough. And for those who don't get a thrill out of people watching... it's only a short walk to the capital for some history.
The Best Part
The very best thing about staying at The Driskill, is that it still feels grand. I love the word grand and my grandmother used it a lot, always with a smile on her face.
The Driskill was 10 years old when my grandmother was born in 1896. She never got to stay in the hotel, but she would have loved the Romanesque grandness!
Stained Glass and Pillars
The lobby is the most impressive part of the hotel. The elegant staircase adds a bit of drama... and worry. There is a story of that staircase and a young guest, who evidently fell to her death when chasing a ball.
It's hard to catch a glimpse of the lobby without people bustling through. If it's not filled with guests, then the staff is decorating for Christmas... or a costumed guide is passing through with a ghost tour group... or musicians and florists are heading towards the Mezzanine or a ballroom to set up for an event.
My Driskill Memories
All of my stays have involved some kind of reunion with family or friends.
In 2007, Mom seemed pretty amused when her daughters started acting like 8 and 10 year olds again. Sadly, we were unable to conjure up any of the hotel ghosts, like Mr. Driskell himself... or the two brides, that committed suicide 20 years apart. Just as well.
Stays With Mom
The two stays with my mom and sister are the sweetest memories. Mom's Alzheimer's made travel difficult, but our overnights at The Driskill gave all 3 of us a rejuvenating boost.
Mom loved the terrace best and we made many trips to use the rockers. Since Mom spoke a lot like her own mother in later years, I'm guessing she probably said, "This is grand!" while she rocked on that terrace.
Playing in the Room
In 2008, we celebrated Mom's 80th birthday in one of the newer hotel rooms. Her grandkids (both at UT at the time) were able to join in the fun.
I remember birthday pie, presents and blowing bubbles. Mom was probably the happiest guest in the entire hotel that night!
A Tall Door
One October, we gathered with family at the Driskill, when our daughter was attending University of Texas. We found a very tall door during that stay.
We were visiting for Heidi's birthday and lucked into one of the historic rooms. Our door was not the one pictured with two flags. That photo would be the door to the Presidential Suite, where other families have gathered, like the Johnson, Bush and Clinton families.
Our door was not quite as dramatic, but once inside our room, we found another (locked) door that actually connected to the Presidential Suite!
We had a good time trying to figure out if the Johnson girls once slept in the room... or was it used for the secret service?
One Tall Room
We didn't have a fireplace, balcony or stained glass like Ladybird once enjoyed in her suite, but we had soaring ceilings and art deco tiling and black marble in the bathroom.
I was tempted to count all the "D"s on the glass, linens and tile. My favorite D was within an elegant design in the vintage sink! All in all it was a very festive setting for opening birthday gifts.
Did I Mention Pillars?
Our room had at least 3 of these crazy pillars reaching up to the tangerine painted ceiling! I've never had a hotel room with pillars!
My children have always been well behaved travelers. So I have absolutely no idea who this mischievous youngin' is, who thought he should climb the pillar. Luckily I was there to put a stop to that nonsense... after I snapped a photo.
The Driskill Bar
The hotel bar is a pretty entertaining place to hang out, even if you're so young you have to drink water. There's lots of stained glass, molded ceilings, western art and of course, a mounted longhorn.
There's usually some live music and at least a few folks in boots and cowboy hats. And of course there's a lot of leather and fur to sit on! The Happy Hour food & drink menu is actually quite reasonable and tasty!
Room With a View
Looking down on 6th Street can be entertaining, but it can also be noisy. We chose The Driskill one year as a good reunion location for relatives coming from New York and California.
It happened to be Halloween the day we gathered in the gracious lobby. Making the most of our hotel stay, we took one of the haunted ghost tours and learned some curious and creepy history.
Time for Costumes
We even came prepared with costumes and all 8 of us dressed up for dinner. The costumes that we saw later on 6th Street were a bit wilder than my "Aunt Ruth" costume. The street party below made it pretty difficult to sleep, but it was Halloween in Austin, after all.
Don and I finally slept, only to wake to a phone call from our daughter. She had joined her friends for Halloween festivities after our family dinner. As the Street Party came to a close, it became clear to Heidi that hailing a cab to her apartment would be impossible. How lucky for her that she had parents (too tired to be grumpy) in a hotel room... just an elevator ride away!
Another Noisy Night
We met our friends from Fort Worth for a reunion a few summers ago. This time we avoided holidays, but didn't realize the annual Bikerfest was happening in downtown Austin. This became evident when we entered the lobby and noticed half the guests dressed in leather.
Luckily our friends, the Codys are good natured and flexible. We watched barricades appear and suddenly 6th street was filled with motorcycles. We were late for dinner reservations when we couldn't cross Congress Avenue. But we got a good show as hundreds of colorful bikers paraded by.
When we returned to the hotel after dinner, we joined the biker crowd in the bar for a little nightcap. If you've seen Brando in The Wild One, you might be imagining a more exciting atmosphere.
The bikers at the Driskisll may have owned some loud bikes, but they were a pretty tame bunch. We headed up after a bit and the bikers on the street partied on for many more hours. Eventually the rumbling sounds lulled me to sleep and all was quiet in the morning.
With numerous stays, it's hard to decide. I guess I'm mostly impressed with the balance of Cattle Lovin' Texas Style and Old Fashioned Elegance.
Just look at the cow above the letter R! (That's Mr. Driskill's head high above the cow!) I love the fact that I have been able to experience this "grand" hotel with some of my favorite people! Wonderful hotel and wonderful people, with a few whacky motorcycles and costumed crazies thrown in!
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!