There are two very attractive innovations in Austin that make visiting this capitol city a pleasure. The Kimber Modern is a sleek new hotel, tucked into a leafy neighborhood just off the groovy shops of South Congress Street. And car2go has opened for business, making transportation a delight for Austinites and visitors.
The Kimber Modern has been open for several years, and occupies a strangely shaped plot of land. Two of the seven rooms are suites, and the remaining five standard rooms feature queen beds, a fridge, clean lines, smoked glass bathrooms and subtle lighting. The standard rooms are not spacious, but there is no cluttered feeling whatsoever. The floor to ceiling curtains provide a counterpoint to the sleek décor. I was delighted by the small touches like the luxurious Malin + Goetz emollients, recessed lighting, tall ceilings and high end European-style fixtures. All rooms open to a multi-level wooden patio, built around a pair of remarkable oak trees. Local ordinances prohibited their removal, so the owners Kimber Cavendish and Vicki Faust brilliantly built the hotel around the oaks. Outdoor couches and a few hammocks invite respite after a night at several of the myriad nightclubs on the world famous 6th Street.
The Kimber Modern Hotel has no need for a concierge, as ‘virtual service’ is provided. In other words, upon booking your reservation, you are assigned a room (each named with a color) and you designate a four digit code that provides access from the street, access to your room and access to the large common room. Happy hour and breakfast (complimentary) are offered daily. Stella Artois, sparkling water bottled in Texas, artisanal cheese and a fine Chardonnay provided afternoon refreshment. The morning offerings tracked the European bed and breakfast approach: granola, yogurt, diced fruit, fresh OJ and espresso.
The owners are seeking “the independent urban traveler” and by all accounts the adjective “sophisticated” could be added. Plans are underway to open similar hotels in other cities, including San Diego.
Austin touts itself as the Live Musical Capitol of the World, and it is easy to see why. For a city with a population less than a million, it sports a seemingly incongruous number of music venues. Sixth Avenue is wall to wall with clubs, and sorting through a recent issue of The Austin Chronicle revealed missed gigs from local favorites like the Flatlanders, Lucinda Williams and the criminally underrated Alejandro Escovedo. Ian MacLagan has apparently taken up residence in Austin; I foolishly never saw his Pasadena club dates when he was based in California. The last time I saw him in concert was when he was in the Faces, with Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart. I will plan my next visit to Austin with an eye on the concert listings.
One evening I drifted down to South Congress a block away from the Kimber Modern and dipped into the venerable Continental Club to hear a great jazz quintet called Church on Monday. The band is anchored by Dr. James Polk on B-3 organ with former Joey DeFrancesco guitarist Jake Langley and is led by saxophonist Elias Haslanger. On my way back to the Kimber Modern I tried some delightful homemade ice cream at Amy’s.