Culture / Travel

Inside the Loren at Lady Bird Lake, Austin’s New, Ultra-Chic Boutique Hotel

Including One of the Best Spots to Catch a Sunset in the City

BY // 01.19.23
photography Casey Woods

Austin, TX, where I’ve been lucky enough to live for over twenty years, has become a multitude of cities. A visitor could be forgiven for spending an entire vacation downtown, on the Eastside, Northside, or near the University of Texas campus …even heading out of town to Lockhart or Bastrop for some local BBQ and two-stepping. I have a friend who toured the capital city for a week, had a fabulous time, and never ventured into Zilker Park or Barton Springs.

It’s not always simple to enjoy a city’s natural wonders—there’s the need to figure out what to wear, how to get there, and if you need to bring a sandwich. But thanks to the Loren at Lady Bird Lake, both residents and weekenders alike will be able to access Austin’s greenbelt, dive into the 68-degree waters of Barton Springs, walk the pedestrian bridge across Lady Bird Lake, or simply watch the sunset over the city in style.

loren lady bird lake austin
The entrance to The Loren. (Photo by Casey Woods)

OVERVIEW AND GUEST ROOMS

Stephen King, CEO & Founder of The Loren Hotels, chose Austin for the second property after the brand’s flagship, The Loren at Pink Beach in Bermuda. “The Loren at Lady Bird Lake allows us the opportunity to bring The Loren experience to travelers looking to embrace the authenticity of Austin as a destination fused with our take on modern and comfortable design,” says King.

The Loren at Lady Bird Lake features 108 guest rooms and suites, all with lake and city views; a rooftop terrace with an infinity pool; wellness spa milk + honey; and a destination restaurant, Nido. Combining the creative work of Austin-based Rhode Partners, Drenner Group, Hoar Construction, and Fleur-de-lis Interior design, The Loren at Lady Bird Lake has a clean, modern aesthetic that changes by the hour, depending on the lakeside light. On a moody afternoon, hotel spaces felt calm and peaceful, while a bright morning played with the hotel artwork to illuminate hidden angles, and night at the Loren was a glittering jewel box of discovery.

Elegant king accommodations offer expansive views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Also available are one- and two-bedroom suites featuring panoramic, uninterrupted views of Lady Bird Lake to the north and a comfortable seating area to take in the natural surroundings. The Loren Suite and Premier Suite offer balconies with views of Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin to the Texas Hill Country. Soothing, large bathrooms feature natural stone, walk-in spa showers, plush bathrobes, SFERRA towels, and Malin+Goetz products.

 

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Nido Restaurant at the Loren at Lady Bird Lake

NIDO RESTAURANT

A glass-walled elevator is a thrilling experience before you even set foot in Austin’s newest destination restaurant, Nido. It feels like just yesterday that a one-story Taco Cabana stood in this footprint, and it’s jaw-dropping to step off the Loren elevator and take in the view from Nido’s eighth-floor rooftop terrace. (I’ve already told six friends that they absolutely must see the sunset from the Nido deck.) I love Austin so much that I should work for the Board of Tourism, and I’ve never imagined such a beautiful sight as my city from the Nido deck at night: the stars, the moon, the water, and lit-up buildings…and you can’t see the construction cranes again until morning.

Indoors, a lively space with just the right amount of dim lighting and old-world glamour beckons. Led by Chef Brad McDonald (most recently of New Orleans’ Couvant) and with a unique take on Texas Hill Country cooking traditions, cocktails, and wine, the Nido menu is classic. We loved the Agnolotti with butternut squash, sage, and brown butter and the duck breast with cherries and tawny port jus.

Nido is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and breakfast on Nido’s terrace was spectacular. We savored a blue crab omelet with red curry sauce and a warm, gooey cinnamon bun and relished planning an active day on the water.

 

Austin-based Milk + Honey spa is situated on the ground floor of the new Loren at Lady Bird Lake.

WELLNESS

Not far from its downtown flagship, the beloved Austin-based milk + honey spa has an expansive home on the ground floor of the Loren. The space is airy and tranquil, a perfect city escape without leaving town, and a heavenly way to slip into “staycation” or vacation mode.

 

loren lady bird lake austin
A guest room at The Loren at Lady Bird Lake. (Photo by Casey Woods)

ART

The Loren at Lady Bird Lake features art that — with its combination of color, natural light, and architecture — reflects the hotel’s organic integration with its exterior setting. In the lobby, Sarah Braman’s repurposed chairs with a glass cube react to the changing exterior light throughout the day, providing ever-transforming networks of reflections and refractions. In the restaurant, Olafur Eliassen’s dynamic color wheels offer a nod to Austin’s Ellsworth Kelly Chapel, which is famed for its melding of architecture and color with the intense Austin light that pours inside. In the hotel’s guest rooms, Karl Blossfelt’s classic photos of plants that look like ornamental ironworks demonstrate the principle that essential forms are reproduced in nature, art, and architecture. Matthew Ritchie’s “Weep In Light” has migrated from Bermuda to the Loren at Lady Bird Lake, where it holds a prominent place in the lobby. The painting features overlapping and intertwining hexagonal structures that represent carbon’s constant flow and ability to multiply. I was particularly taken by Matthias Kessler’s prints of icebergs in Greenland, which are both eerie and gorgeous, and a MichaelJoo sculpture, an exact replica of a crystal but executed in steel.

The Loren at Lady Bird Lake is an art lover’s dream. The works encouraged me to think deeply about my city’s precarious and overwhelming beauty. I felt grateful to have the time and space to watch both the shimmering lake and fragile ecosystem outside my hotel window and the carefully-curated art collection.

 

221019_Loren__CWP3512 (Photo by Casey Woods )
The pool deck at The Loren at Lady Bird Lake. (Photo by Casey Woods)

ADVENTURE

Guests at The Loren at Lady Bird Lake Bird Lake can plan adventures just by peeking outside their room. My husband went for a morning run before breakfast; we could see our favorite dog park and concert venue, Auditorium Shores, from the rooftop pool; you can walk across the pedestrian bridge into the city in a few minutes with no need to think about parking; and Barton Springs swimming hole plus a good book and a towel is the most perfect afternoon in the world…and a short stroll away. (Might I recommend a copy of my thriller set in the neighborhood, The Lifeguards, to read by the pool?)

The hotel offers guests access to e-bikes, kayaks, and paddleboards and one can easily access more than 10 miles of trails right outside the hotel’s front door, not to mention specialty experiences including custom boot and flip flop fittings with local boot company, Alvie’s; a Vintage Around Town curated itinerary with car service; bespoke wine and whiskey tours and more.

In the immortal words of Lyle Lovett, That’s right you’re not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway! It’s a joy and a pleasure to welcome the lovely, luxurious Loren Lady Bird to Austin.

Room prices start at $311 | 1211 W Riverside Drive | thelorenhotels.com 

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