Culture / Travel

Your First Look at Proper’s First Texas Hotel — Austin’s New Kelly Wearstler-Designed Wellness and Dining Destination

Have a Peloton Bike Delivered to Your Room, Which Feels Remarkably Like Home

BY // 02.21.20

There’s been quite a bit of hype surrounding the new Proper Hotel in Austin, Texas. The city’s first LEED Gold certified hotel and the brand’s first location outside of California, Austin Proper finally opened up to Texas guests in December. Thirty-two stories, including two restaurants, a café, a rooftop pool, and spa, have been added to the ever changing skyline in downtown Austin’s Second Street District.

PaperCity‘s own Anne Lee Phillips wrote about the new Kelly Wearstler designed property in our February print issue, outlining the incredible designs that Wearstler came up with for the hotel’s first Texas location.

I had the opportunity to visit the brand new Austin Proper and experience many of the new amenities the hotel has to offer over Valentine’s Day weekend. Some are still in the process of opening (the spa, pool, and La Piscina restaurant will open later this year), but there’s already plenty to enjoy.

 

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The entrance’s minimalist design (two towering inky black doors with the word “PROPER” blazing in neon above) immediately signaled that this would be a unique aesthetic experience. When I walked inside, I was proven right. The interior was filled with light brown woods with black accents, giving the space a very warm and natural but modern vibe. Above the reception check-in room, a black-and-white checkered ceiling with a custom neon light fixture paid homage to the city’s slew of neon lights.

proper hotel austin kelly wearstler (Photo by Courtesy of Proper Hotel Austin )
The reception area of Austin’s new Proper Hotel.

And that was the basis of Wearstler’s design: encapsulating the unique vibes of Austin within the Proper hotel’s established aesthetic. (A quick Google search showcases the vast design differences of each hotel, though all envisioned by Wearstler.) The designer visited several homes in Austin, as well as locations all around Texas for about six years before beginning work on the Proper. The thought shows with each piece of furniture in the lobby bar area, including chairs, couches, tables and pottery.

Even the pottery scattered throughout the lobby, as well as ceramic piece incorporated into a credenza guest room’s media credenza, was done by an Austin artist, Rick Van Dyke. Another local tie is the staff’s uniforms, all designed by Esby Apparel founder Stephanie Beard. From sandy colored jumpsuits for reception staff to button up shirts and chino pants for bellboys, Esby had it covered with their simple and sustainable designs.

Austin Proper
The stairwell, designed by Kelly Wearstler, is a highlight of the lobby. (Courtesy of Austin Proper)

Another local connection is Proper’s in-house styling services, courtesy of ByGeorge, a cool, contemporary clothing brand for men and women. Guests have the option of receiving personalized styling services in By George’s chic South Congress outpost or from the comfort of their hotel room.

The hotel boasts 244 guest rooms and suites all filled with the same amenities — a Nespresso machine, Aesop bath products, an Apple TV, Parachute Home robes (another collab with Wearstler), and a walk-in shower (a standalone tub comes in select rooms). Despite the hotel homogeny, the rooms still felt surprisingly homey — I never wanted to leave. One day I even got a Peloton bike delivered for a quick 30-minute ride in the privacy of my own suite. The hotel has one available for guest rooms, and yes, I was the first one ever to snag it.

If you’re down to workout in public, you can always go to the fourth floor fitness room, fully equipped with treadmills, more Peloton bikes, weight machines, yoga mats, and a punching bag. The floor’s Celine spa is still in the works, but will offer a holistic spa getaway including detoxifying drinks, facials, massages, steam showers, and more when it opens.

proper hotel austin kelly wearstler (Photo by Courtesy of Proper Hotel Austin )
Goldie’s Sunken Bar in Proper Austin offers an intimate space for cocktailing.

Another cool fact about the hotel: Each area has a customized music playlist depending on the mood. For instance, the floral wallpapered Goldie’s Sunken Bar (open to hotel guests only), utilizes jazz and acoustic tunes to play up the intimate vibe. Proper partnered with Orchid Music Design on all of the hotel’s music, which includes different tracks for The Peacock restaurant, spa, La Piscina pool restaurant, and Mockingbird café.

Which brings me to the drinks and food portion of this experience. Proper Austin has a different cocktail menu in each of their dining concepts. Goldie’s has nine signature cocktails. I tried a taste of the popular Rosy Starling, which is refreshing but not too sweet. Also, the Arctic Falcon with Brennivin Aquavit and Ultima Poblano (which includes an egg white and mole bitters) were close contenders.

On our first night, we got a sneak peak taste of the upcoming La Piscina menu. A twist on coastal Mexican food, we tried things like octopus, tuna crudo, snapper. Fajita options included lobster, steak, and quail. We only caught a glimpse of the still-under-construction spot and its open kitchen, but the menu (paired with a watermelon or cucumber margarita) would be perfect poolside.

The Mockingbird, a Mediterranean sidewalk café near Proper’s lobby, was super convenient for an on-the-go breakfast. Apart from Counter Culture Coffee, juice, smoothies, and tea, you can order all kinds of baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, and Greek Yogurt for breakfast. (I usually opted for an almond croissant.) For lunch and dinner, expect menu options like lamb shwarma, falafel, and whole rotisserie chickens.

proper hotel austin kelly wearstler (Photo by Courtesy of Proper Hotel Austin )

But ultimately, The Peacock proves to be the star at the new Proper Austin. The space alone is immersive and incredible. Beautiful tiles climb up a towering wall, equipped with partially opened windows that allow diners to keep an eye on the hotel lobby. Another open kitchen lets you witness all the wonderful smelling Mediterranean food being cooked.

Dining here throughout the day are entirely separate experiences. In the morning, we were brought out a spread of Mezze plates (hummus, salmon, pita), Za’tar homefries, pastries, Greek yogurt with granola, and fruit. It was the blueberry and semolina pancakes with vanilla lebnah, orange blossom, and almond and Shakshuka with two farm eggs, halloumi, spicy tomato sauce, zehug and pita that really stood out. Especially those pancakes.

For dinner, hummus is also present in three styles. I will confidently say that the beef short rib schwarma hummus with herbs and paprika is the best. Kebabs come family style. The spicy lamb kefta was my personal favorite, as well as the Red Snapper Crudo mezze with roasted grapes, serranno and lime and a Wild Cod tajine. There is so much to try here.

I’ve gone on for awhile about my new favorite Austin hotel, but I’ll leave it at this. If you’re looking for a city escape, while still feeling immersed in the cool vibes of Texas’ state capitol, Austin Proper is your home away from home.

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