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All reviews roaring fork terrace bar front desk club room great hotel capitol building heart of downtown congress avenue walking distance mini bar valet parking favorite hotel sixth street business center i highly recommend this hotel the location is perfect bed was very comfortable
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Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

A nice weekend taking in the music of Austin. Booked a Priceline room for a great rate and lived the hotel and the rooms. Be aware that they do not have self parking options for downtown hotels so expect about $46 valet parking a night. Beautiful upscale hotel though and would go back.

Date of stay: February 2019
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank IndyBryan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SteveJuscenGM, General Manager at InterContinental Stephen F. Austin, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Thank you for staying with us and for sharing your experience of our historic boutique hotel. During your stay with us, Austin experienced nice weather so I am delighted that you were able to enjoy the music and hospitality that Austin provides. We look forward to your next visit to Austin and it would be our pleasure to have you stay with us again.

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Reviewed 5 weeks ago

Beautiful lobby and majestic staircase leading up, complete with a generous library if you forgot to bring your own book. I was there on business with lots of other people checking in and out at the same time, and everyone was so helpful and friendly. The room was comfortable, amenities were nice, valet and bell service was quick, even with many people waiting. The restaurant fare was above normal hotel restaurant expectations, even if a little pricey. The trickest part of the stay was feeling like I was blocking traffic in front of the hotel, but that was due to many people arriving at once.

Date of stay: January 2019
  • Trip type: Travelled on business
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank LrnEveryDay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SteveJuscenGM, General Manager at InterContinental Stephen F. Austin, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Thank you so much for staying with us here at the Stephen F. Austin InterContinental Hotel. I am happy that our staff was so helpful and friendly towards you. We work very hard to assure our guest have a pleasant stay. I hope your business event went well also. Next time you are in town it would be our pleasure to have you stay with us again.

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Reviewed 10 February 2019

The Stephen F. is one of Austin's two grande dame hotels, the other being the Driskill a block south. It first opened in the Roaring '20s era and was Austin's first "high-rise." It features a jaw-dropper of an entrance and lobby, and a second-floor bar with one of Austin's best patios for people-watching along Congress Avenue, with the Texas Capitol visible just up the street.

I've both personally stayed at the property -- and had myriad family and friends stay there as well -- more times than I can count. And until barely a decade ago, its only real competition aside from the Driskill was the significantly more upscale (and pricey) Four Seasons. That was then. Now downtown Austin has a half-dozen newer 4- and 4.5-star hotels competing for business, all priced in a similar range as the Stephen F. One would think InterContinental, which has managed the property for quite a while now, would take notice of the competitive threat and up the hotel's game all around. If so, one would be sorely mistaken: based on a recent stay, the Stephen F. has actually gone down a notch.

One of the "quirks" of staying in a nearly 100-year-old building is it having a wide variety of room sizes within the same basic category. Somewhat surprisingly, the room photos from TripAdvisor's Oyster.com affiliate show a sizable king room in a corner setting with a half-dozen windows and great light. Considering Oyster's mission of unmasking "hotel fake-out photos," I'm rather stunned that they failed to shoot any pics of rooms like the one I had on my most recent stay. It was the smallest guest room I've ever seen at the place: only barely large enough to fit a king-size bed, with a bathroom that was 6'x8' at most. Moreover, it was on the third floor (the lowest one with guest rooms) and featured a not-so-lovely view of HVAC equipment on an adjacent building's roof. (And it only had the one window, not six.)

When I used to travel a lot for work I'd joke with my friends about getting the dreaded "Priceline room," the nickname we gave to the rooms certain hotels that shall remain nameless gave to their "cheapskate" guests who booked through a discount site. That was back in the days when Priceline still emphasized its Name Your Own Price service, which it no longer promotes. Nonetheless, I admittedly booked my room through Hotwire (essentially the same), but this was the first time in many years that I've actually gotten the dreaded "Priceline room" despite a) mentioning that I was aware of the differing room sizes and specifically requesting a larger room in the same category and b) the hotel clearly not being anywhere close to full, since it's the off-season plus downtown Austin has added 3,000+ rooms (in the four-star category) in the past five years alone. After asking I was total they could accommodate my request -- for a $50 upcharge. And while I wouldn't describe the front desk clerk as "rude," he definitely seemed standoffish.

Most disconcerting, however, was the fact that Austin was experiencing an unusual issue with its municipal water supply: somehow zebra mussels got into the system. If you've never smelled water in such a condition, consider yourself lucky: it's roughly akin to a diluted version of Louisiana swamp water. Despite purportedly being safe to drink, you have to hold your nose while doing so. And despite the hotel having a notice at the front desk about the ongoing water problem, it DIDN'T EVEN OFFER COMPLIMENTARY DRINKING WATER under the circumstances. THAT is simply not acceptable, and I almost gave the hotel two stars because of it. Still, I decided based on sentimental value to at least keep it at three stars.

OTOH the difference between it and the Hotel Van Zandt -- both owned by the same holding company, IHG -- is night & day. The Van Zandt is admittedly a Kimpton property, long one of the best in the business, and caters to a younger crowd. Still, it pretty much runs circles around the Stephen F. given that it sweats the details -- and it's in the details where the Stephen F. falls short even when the water is normal. Its room decor hasn't been updated in at least four or five years, except for possibly some relatively new flatscreen TVs and RFID room keys (the ones you just wave over a lock to open it), and is looking decidedly dated, with rooms a seeming sea of beige. (Even the massive convention center Hilton a few blocks away -- which has around 1,000 rooms -- has a much more modern feel, never mind the likes of the Westin and Fairmont.) Its sound insulation -- which has always been a problem -- remains terrible, and one can readily hear conversations in adjacent rooms (albeit muffled ones) and the hallway (not-so-muffled). Finally, I have yet to meet a Kimpton employee who wasn't both cheerful and altogether accommodating.

While I realize it's a historic building, I also know how hotels of similar vintage in other cities that have retrofitted them with modern soundproofing. Upon check-in I encountered a new, and decidedly guest-unfriendly, requirement: agreeing to pay a $75 fee if you stay past the standard noon checkout time. This was the first time I've ever seen such a thing at a four-star boutique-style chain hotel. (It's SOP at many, if not most, four-star properties to allow guests to stay an extra hour if they don't have a full house the day of departure.)

To be fair, the hotel has quite a few positive points aside from its lobby. The beds are great, as are their pillows (an area many similarly priced properties can't seem to get right). Rooms have ample ports for both electrical plugs and USB outlets, along with Keurig coffeemakers.And despite the decor being the same as I remember it from five years ago, none of it looked dated, so I assume at least the carpets and drapes have been updated.

But still: it's no longer a place I recommend to friends, family and work associates visiting Austin, or even in the top three. The similarly priced Van Zandt, JW Marriott and Fairmont frankly put the Stephen F. to shame in nearly every way short of location. (The JW is also on Congress, five blocks south, but the Fairmont sits next to the interstate in a spot near nothing but the convention center and the Rainey St. district - and the Van Zandt is similarly situated, albeit not as close to the freeway.)

I think it would behoove IHG to follow the lead of its Kimpton division and give the Stephen F. a thorough revamp in terms of both design & room quality/size.As it stands right now, this grande dame has fallen into also-ran territory.

Room tip: Best rooms are on higher floors and away from the elevator banks and ice machines
Date of stay: February 2019
  • Trip type: Travelled solo
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
1  Thank kirker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SteveJuscenGM, General Manager at InterContinental Stephen F. Austin, responded to this reviewResponded 5 weeks ago

It sound as if you really know a great deal about our hotel and the area as well as the hotels in our area, almost as if you are from Austin. If not, you sure have done your homework. I am sorry that we did not meet your expectations. We are working hard to enhance our guest's stay at the hotel and are working with all employees to make sure every guest is provided with excellent service. I do hope you will give us another try and stay with us in the future. Thank you for your comments as this is a way to help us make improvements to our service and the hotel. It was a pleasure having you stay with us and as I said, we hope to see you again.

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Reviewed 9 February 2019

The rooms vary in size, and we got one that felt a bit cramped.
It was nicely appointed and the bathroom was roomy and comfortable.
The staff was attentive and helpful, but if they charge much more for parking I am going to rent my car a cheap motel room nearby and Uber in and out.
I was surprise that even with the relative sparsity of elevators, the wait time was always short.
The business center is free for guests, and came in useful a few times.
The bar can get crowded in the early evening and closes around 11 most nights, making it a bit tame for a major hotel.
I didn't look at the minibar once I saw it was a "move it you buy it" and there was not enough room in the fridge for our bottle of wine.
Ice machines are on every floor.

Date of stay: February 2019
  • Trip type: Travelled on business
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank john g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SteveJuscenGM, General Manager at InterContinental Stephen F. Austin, responded to this reviewResponded 11 February 2019

Hello Mr. John G.

Thank you so much for selecting the Stephen F. Austin InterContinental Hotel for your stay while in Austin. Our traditional rooms remain true to our original historic floor plan, but on your next visit, I would recommend booking one of our Deluxe rooms which is almost twice the size and at a modest price increase. Due to the challenges of parking in the heart of downtown Austin, we are unable to offer a less expensive parking alternative while maintaining the quality of service. Next time you are in town it would be our pleasure to have you stay with us again.

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Reviewed 9 February 2019 via mobile

I left my Apple Watch and charger in my room after I checked out. V pleasant and reliable retrieving it and returning it to me, which is much appreciated.

Good location, and v helpful porters with luggage and helping to find transportation.

Date of stay: February 2019
Trip type: Travelled on business
Thank jv1970ggg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SteveJuscenGM, General Manager at InterContinental Stephen F. Austin, responded to this reviewResponded 11 February 2019

Thank you for staying with us and for sharing your experience with leaving behind your Apple Watch and charger. I am very happy the items were returned to you in a timely manner. It is good to hear of the excellent service our valet provided you also. Next time you are in town it would be our pleasure to have you stay with us again.

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