Thompson Austin

Why book? This new skyscraper is set to reenergize a sleepy corner of downtown Austin thanks to two street-level restaurants by James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey, a design and music-forward rooftop bar and pool, and a two-hotels-in-one concept that attracts professionals and urban adventurers alike.

Set the scene In a smart nod to Austin’s evolving demographics—it’s a young city thanks to university roots, but tech fever attracts well-heeled execs—the Thompson is two hotels in one. On one side there’s the namesake property (rooms from $329), distinguished by an elegant lobby dressed up in rich leather furnishings, a monolithic fireplace, and petrified wood ceilings. Guests donning smart dresses and fitted blazers check in at a striking, brutalist-style desk made of wood and green marble which dazzles in the glow of individually lit acrylic cylinders. Many wheel their carry-ons straight to the second floor, made up of innovative conference rooms and flex spaces flooded in natural light, while others make their way to one of the 212 guest rooms and suites, which will soon be joined by 17 short-term residences.

Should you be checking in at tommie (rooms from $199), the Thompson’s younger brother, valets guide you through a neighboring door and straight into a West Texas-themed Coffee Bar. Groups of 20-somethings, who dress like they consider vintage shopping a formidable sport, self check-in to one of 193 smaller rooms that feel like the interiors of a chic Airstream Trailer (if RVs had eight-foot windows, that is). After dropping their bags, picking up the hotel’s adventure map, and—we’re willing to bet—posting a shot of the skyline views, most head right back out to one of the hotel's public spaces, if not out on the town. Thompson and tommie guests share access to the hotel’s four dining options, as well as the fourth-floor rooftop gardens, a state-of-the-art gym and wellness center, and the 75-foot pool.

The backstory Thompson Austin is the brand’s third hotel in a multi-year Texas takeover. No two properties are alike: Thompson Dallas opened in a historic George Dahl-designed building in late 2020 and has a $2 million art collection. It was quickly followed by a San Antonio tower on the city’s famous Riverwalk. Thompson Houston will be housed in a Bayou-facing complex with shopping and restaurants and is slated to open in 2023. While Los Angeles is home to the world’s first tommie offshoot of the hotel brand, the Austin build is Hyatt’s first attempt to combine the Thompson and tommie concepts.

The rooms On first glance, the Thompson’s 212 guest rooms feel heavy and austere, thanks to dark leather, concrete ceilings, and emerald headboards flanked by 70s-era lighting. But rounded corners, shimmering accent walls, and mixed metal finishes undercut those features with some lightness. Bathrooms, outfitted with D.S. & Durga bath products, are designed with inky vertical tiles and rain shower heads. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the city skyline, including Austin landmarks like the cool blue Frost Tower and nightlife-rich Sixth Street. Rooms also have illy coffee makers and bars that are far from mini thanks to Texas-sourced snacks and spirits such as Still Bourbon, Tito’s Vodka, and St. Arnold’s brews.

Food and drink Guests and convention center crowds are eagerly peering through the windows of James Beard Award winner Mashama Bailey’s two dining establishments on the Thompson’s street level, a corner that hasn’t seen much culinary innovation since Eddie V’s was considered the pinnacle of Austin’s fine dining in 2002. The two restaurants, Diner Bar and The Grey Market, are expansions of Bailey and her business partner Johno Morisano’s popular restaurants in Savannah. Think of Grey Market Austin like a dressed-up bodega, one where line cooks serve up made-to-order breakfast and lunch plates and prep grab and go items like sandwiches, sweets, and picnic provisions.

Diner Bar serves what Bailey calls her port city southern cuisine— the likes of raw oysters and foie gras over grits—with plenty of Texas twists. The deco-style space has pendant lamps and black booths surrounding an elegant horseshoe-shaped bar. Wax Myrtles, located on Thompson’s fourth floor, is an open-dining concept with a central bar made of handsome pecan wood, marble and leather-topped tables, and accordion windows that open up to an urban garden of native plants and succulents. The cocktail menu, with highlights like the lemon olive oil-infused gin Moon-Tower and the dangerously smooth bourbon and maple Bigtooth, is superb, as are plates like the Syrian-inspired pecan and red pepper spread—think of it as a plant-based chili with pops of pomegranate—and a tender heritage bone-in pork chop.

Thanks to a game room with a pool table, creative corners for live music, and ample garden nooks, it’s clear that Wax Myrtles will be a regular stop on the downtown party circuit. Late nights can be cured with local roasts at the Coffee Bar at tommie, a Marfa-inspired java shop that already has a dedicated following among downtown employees eager to avoid the office cafeteria Keurig.

The spa There is no spa yet, but the 6,700-square-foot gym and wellness center is impressive thanks to its private workout studios—regular yoga and fitness classes are in the works—and state of the art equipment ranging from TechnoGym running machines to the workout Mirror and Peloton bikes.

The neighborhood/area While the Thompson is a welcome addition to a quiet downtown corner, it’s blocks away from the popular day and nightlife destinations. A short walk gets you to Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail, as well as Republic Square, which hosts a popular Saturday morning farmers’ market. Comedor, known for its modern interior Mexican dishes, and Fareground Food Hall with a mix of bars and restaurants, are also close by. Travelers should also check out Congress Bridge, home to Austin’s famous bat population, as well as Congress Avenue, the runway to the Texas State Capitol.

The service While the pandemic has exacerbated hiring problems in a city that already had serious hospitality staffing issues, the Thompson has managed to start off on the right foot with a friendly and professional team, as well as a housekeeping crew that is reviving the lost art of the turndown service.

For families While things like kid-friendly welcome amenities are still in the works, I spotted a few strollers roaming the halls. The hotel can accommodate babies and kids with amenities such as roll-away cribs and kid-friendly foods; half pints will also go wild over the pool and the gym’s sports simulator.

Eco effort The Thompson has LEED Silver certification and is an Austin Energy Green Building.

Accessibility ADA compliant.

Anything left to mention? Earlybird CBD gummies and the Skin Authority eye kit, left on my pillow at turndown, were a welcome upgrade from the standard dark chocolate and weather report. If you’re booking a tommie room, request a corner—those that end in numbers 19 and 20—for a more expansive feel.

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