It goes without saying that Austin, Texas, is a synonym for hipster city. It’s also laid-back, funky, creative and seriously musical. And if any hotel aims to embody the spirit of Austin, that would have to be the Bunkhouse Group hotels.
Since its inception in 2006, this acclaimed hotel group has been steadily growing and currently has several properties in and out of Texas. These include Saint Cecilia (the secluded luxury estate in Austin), Austin Motel (perhaps the most stylish motel you’ve seen), and Hotel Havana (the historic property on San Antonio’s River Walk), just to name a few.
As of September, a new hotel has been added to its expanding portfolio: Hotel Magdalena opened this month on Music Lane in the thriving South Congress neighborhood of Austin.
With 89 rooms, it is the largest hotel to date within Bunkhouse Group, and will be the first mass timber hotel constructed in North America. Assembled in pieces, this renewable resource is visible in the hotel room ceiling design and the exterior walkways. The design throughout the property is evocative of Barton Springs — Austin’s most cherished natural-spring outdoor pool — and is complete with a rock quarry and a 900 sq ft pool.
On the gastronomic front, the hotel’s restaurant, Summer House on Music Lane, will open this November. Open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, Executive Chef Jeffrey Hundelt will be cooking over a live fire and, in response to the current challenge imposed by the Covid-19, there will be 70 covered outdoor patio seats.
Amar Lalvani, CEO of Standard International and Bunkhouse Group, explained in an interview the challenges of opening a new hotel during a pandemic, the meaning of adding a new hotel to the group, and the hotel’s role in the community.
Bunkhouse Group has several hotels, not only in Texas but California and Mexico. How does Hotel Magdalena differ from them, especially from those in Austin, while keeping the Bunkhouse identity?
“All of the hotels share the elements Bunkhouse cares deeply about: inspired design, connection to the place (the locations and the buildings themselves) and the value of community, culture and music. However, each is a unique expression of those values and vary in their feel, as well as their offerings, programming and price. From the welcome accessibility of the Austin Motel (Austin) and Phoenix Hotel (San Francisco) to the tucked-away privacy of Hotel Saint Cecilia (Austin), Hotel San Cristóbal (Todos Santos, Mexico) and Hotel Havana (San Antonio) and of course the Hotel San José (Austin) where it all started which feels as relevant and progressive now as it did when its renovation was completed 20 years ago.
Hotel Magdalena is the first one in Austin truly developed from the ground up (the three prior were at least some portion historical renovations) and is a hidden world unto itself just off South Congress. It’s also the