Happily for design aficionados, Austin remains something of a treasure trove of mid-century classics. Equally gratifying is the willingness of hospitality outfits like Bunkhouse to gently spruce up existing properties, like the 41-room Austin Motel in the city’s South Congress strip of boutiques, restaurants and clubs, rather than take extreme architectural measures.
For Liz Lambert, Bunkhouse’s founder and chief creative maven, the bones of the 1938 landmark were in perfect shape. ‘I was influenced by three decades in the motel’s history – the 1930s when the property was built, the 1950s when it was in its heyday and significant additions were made, and the 1980s which was a sort of last hurrah for old Austin and South Congress, when Austin was sort of at the end of its cosmic cowboy era, before the neighburhood started changing.’
The result is a setting that blends sly retro touches with a millennial bent. Burgundy laminated desks and tufted beds sheathed in Sfera sheets are paired with push-button phones and vintage silkscreened music posters, while a bar has been added to the kidney-shaped pool flanked by red and white umbrellas.
And just to up the nostalgia quotient, in-house activities include punk rock water ballet and synchronised swimming lessons.