The former home of Edgar “Commodore” Perry and his wife Lutie, the Commodore Perry Estate once hosted Gatsby-esque parties for Austin’s great and good. And nearly 100 years later, thanks to the accoladed Auberge group and a top-to-toe transformation from esteemed interior designer Ken Fulk, this Texan belle is back to doing what she does best: playing the gracious hostess. You’ll spend decadent days here strolling the lush grounds, sunning yourself by the swoonsome Slim Aarons-inspired pool or sipping Ranch Water cocktails on the airy tiled terrace.
Get this when you book through us:
A US$70 resort credit (one a stay) to spend in the restaurants, bars or on a hotel experience
Double rooms from £374.94 ($529), including tax at 6 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of 11% per room per night on check-out.
Rates don’t usually include breakfast – options range from healthy oat milk smoothies to fried buttermilk chicken sandwiches and, because this is Austin, breakfast tacos.
There’s a packed calendar of goings-on at this never-get-bored estate – favourites include ‘Fireside Nights’ every Thursday where you make your own S’mores and sip bourbon-based cocktails from lounge chairs by the fire; on Sundays, you can take lunch picnic style – spread out on the lawn with a gingham blanket, a chef-prepared spread and champagne on ice.
At the hotel
Lawns, gardens, outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour gym, valet parking, free WiFi, Linus bikes to borrow. In rooms: bar cart, plug adaptors, bottled water, tea and coffee, organic Prima Fleur bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Every bedroom is characterful, antique-filled and has Texas-sized proportions, so you really can’t go wrong, but designer Ken Fulk outdid himself with the signature suites. Once the mansion’s original bedrooms, each one channels the personality of their namesake – the utterly feminine Laverne Suite, named after a former owner and preservationist, is completely clad in all-pink Pierre Frey fabrics (even the ceiling). The most lavish is the Mr and Mrs Perry Suite which has two master bedrooms – hers is serene and coral-coloured; his is clubby and safari-inspired.
Cameras at the ready – the inordinately photogenic circular outdoor swimming pool channels the Sixties with yellow chaise longues and matching yellow umbrellas. After a dip, order a glass of rosé or pool snacks (like the popular carnitas tacos) to your table and admire the views of the sunken rose garden which forms the backdrop.
The state-of-the-art gym is open 24 hours and equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines, rowers and Peloton bikes. Or, check out the calendar of group classes (HIIT, yoga, Pilates, meditation and sound baths) which are held in both indoor and outdoor settings and suit every skill level. For one-on-one attention, book a private personal training session (you’ll need to give 72 hours’ notice).
A wide-brimmed hat for alfresco afternoons, activewear for the group fitness classes and, if Austin’s revved-up restaurant scene beckons, your appetite.
The hotel’s common areas and a number of dedicated bedrooms are accessible for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome and there’s a children’s menu on offer in the restaurant. Little Smiths will love playing on the lawns (where family picnics can be arranged) and S’mores night by the firepit every Thursday.
It’s hard to pick our favourite spot from the litany of picturesque perches, but, if pressed, we’d opt for soaking up the last rays of sunlight from the terrace – with its original tile and graceful arches, squint and the scene could be lifted from Lake C
The mood at Lutie’s is of unbuttoned elegance, like a never-ending garden party – don printed dresses and linens with whimsical accessories to fit right in.
At the moment, meals here are a moveable feast – you can choose to eat in the sun-splashed solarium, the breezy loggia, the cosy confines of the library or, really, any number of nooks and crannies in the mansion. The cuisine is modern Texas with an upscale twist and an emphasis on seasonal and hyper-local ingredients: Texas toast with caviar, hush puppies with truffles, crispy gulf shrimp or dry-aged Texas ribeye.
The hotel’s restaurant and cocktail bar, Lutie’s, is slated to open later in 2021, named for the estate’s former matriarch and inspired by her penchant for entertaining in grand style. The garden-gazing spot will be headed by husband-and-wife duo Bradley Nicholson and Susana Querejazu, veterans of Austin’s famed Barley Swine and Odd Duck. The menu will be supplemented with produce fresh from the estate’s own gardens as well as bounty from local farmers and ranchers.
You can order drinks and bar bites to wherever you’d like – in winter we’d choose the intimate library which has a roaring fire and crackling vinyl; in summer, the light-filled loggia with views of the cascading fountain. The cocktails are named after storied American estates: the Hearst has pecan-infused cognac and the Arden is made with single-barrel bourbon. For an afternoon tipple, the refreshing Ranch Water is a classic West Texas cocktail made from sotol (similar to mexcal), Topo Chico sparkling water and lime.
Take your pick from the all-day mansion menu from 7am to 11pm.
The full restaurant menu is available as room service around the clock. Anytime can be snacktime in your room – minibars are loaded with local treats of the salty and sweet variety.
Though you’ll feel like you’ve arrived at a grand country manor, the Commodore Perry Estate is just a fifteen-minute drive from downtown Austin’s spirited centre.
Aim for Austin’s Bergstrom International Airport (there are direct flights from most major American cities as well as from Paris, Toronto, London and Frankfurt) – it’s 20 minutes by taxi to the hotel; private transfers can be organised for $100 each way.
Ride sharing apps work well for getting around town, so you won’t necessarily need your own car; if you do drive, valet parking is available for US$42 a night.
Worth getting out of bed for
It’s easy to forget you’re in the centre of a city when you’re surrounded by the estate’s oak trees, rolling lawns and formal gardens, but when you’re ready to “get weird”, Austin’s hipster heartland is in easy reach. If you’re in search of live music, look beyond Sixth Street’s bars and honky tonks to find less crowded spots just a few blocks away, like the Historic Scoot Inn on E. 4th.
When your eardrums need a rest, see what’s on at the University of Texas’ Blanton Museum of Art – home to the Ellsworth Kelly: Austin building – or the Paramount Theatre. On Saturday mornings, browse the heirloom produce and artisan gift stalls while soaking in the atmosphere at the SFC Farmers’ Market (open year round).
For more outdoorsy pursuits, you can canoe, paddle board or kayak in the heart of the city on Lady Bird Lake. Stay until sunset and you can watch the emergence of some nocturnal neighbours – the city’s enormous bat colony puts on a nightly show in summer as it swoops over the lake (aside from their evening theatrics, bat benefits include mosquito control and reducing agricultural pests).
If you brought your clubs, you can try out the nine-hole public Hancock Golf Course just across the street from the hotel – it’s one of the oldest in the state.
Farther afield, Round Top may be known for its annual antiques fair, but the town (about an hour and a half from Austin by car) is a great place to find unique vintage pieces all year round.
In this city where food is everything and the scene is constantly evolving, sometimes the most exciting dishes are served from a truck – use this hub to track down the one you’re looking for. For meals that aren’t on wheels, try Hyde Park staple Julio’s Café, a much-loved Mexican restaurant that serves breakfast tacos, green enchiladas, homemade chicken soup and, of course, cold margaritas. The laidback Hyde Park Bar & Grill on Duval has some of the best burgers in town or stop off for Basque pintxos and cocktails at Kalimotxo downtown.
For something more refined, book ahead at world-renowned Japanese restaurant Uchi – chef Tyson Cole is one of the few American sushi masters and a winner of a James Beard award.
Squeeze into Watertrade, a diminutive and dimly lit cocktail den attached to Japanese restaurant Otoko – there’s an extensive list of sake and Japanese whiskies, plus izakaya-style bar bites from the kitchen.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this Mediterranean-inspired mansion in Texas and unpacked their dancing shoes and vintage finds, a full account of their genteel city stay will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Commodore Perry Estate in Austin…
In 1928, the Austin businessman and real estate developer Edward Perry built himself a party palace, a Spanish Revival mansion secluded from the city in 10 acres of lushly landscaped grounds. Eventually, ‘Commodore’ Perry (it was an ironic nickname, bestowed by friends when his beloved boat washed away in a flood), sold the house, saying that it was ‘a great place to throw a party, but too big to live in.’ For decades it languished in plain sight, but now, under the auspices of the California-based Auberge Group, this Twenties estate is roaring again as a resort-like stay that blends faded glamour and up-to-the-minute amenities with a vigorous stir of Texas hospitality.
The show-stopping interiors are down to creative director Ken Fulk who kept the mansion’s European elegance intact – his thoughtful finds from Texas’ Round Top Antiques Fair play perfectly with the house’s historic bones. And, though there are a few new additions that the Commodore wouldn’t recognise – the Palm Springs-inspired swimming pool, foliage-filled Lutie’s restaurant (opening later in 2021) and the stately Inn that houses most of the hotel’s bedrooms – we’re sure he would smile at the spirit of revelry that still hangs in the air… and nod with approval at the bar cart in every bedroom.