When Forbes Travel Guide editors got to Archer Hotel Austin’s pool patio for an evening dip, it was almost poetic having the game show The $100,000 Pyramid broadcasting on a massive mounted TV screen. For those unfamiliar with the classic program, the premise calls for two teammates to hurl clues at each other to describe a mystery category.
It would be a cinch to play the game with Archer. You could say “modern,” “a clean aesthetic” and “a sense of place” and, if your astute partner had ever set foot in the brand’s locations in New York or Napa, he would easily get the answer right. And with this chic address in Texas’ capital city, which opened in 2016, the winning track record continues.
But even beyond the refreshing pool, there are so many other prizes at this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended property that make it special.
During our recent stay, we cozied up in a roomy Archer King Balcony Suite. The space had a glass-enclosed shower and a deep soaking tub you could see from your four-poster bed, if the frosted sliding door was pulled back. And while these luxurious touches are evident, so too are the localized ones — a huge black-and-white image of horses and a few books (including Black Beauty).
As the name implies, our unit featured an outdoor space that could easily accommodate four that looks over The Domain Northside, a buzzy new phase of the Domain retail development that we’ll gush over more in a bit. There was one afternoon during our stay where seven people were comfortably in the suite, feasting on Austin’s beloved Franklin Barbecue. But no matter if you go smaller (Classic King) or more spacious (the 760-square-foot Archer’s Den), you’ll find a similar eye for details and Texas-sized distinctiveness.
Let’s get one thing clear, though — just because we chose Franklin’s smoked turkey one afternoon that does not mean Archer Austin is without a fine culinary option. On the contrary, its Second Bar + Kitchen more than holds up as an all-day dining destination.
In the mornings, you’ll find your traditional favorites (including unbelievable buttermilk waffles shaped like the state) alongside more unique offerings (the pulled pork- and chorizo-gravy-topped Texas Benedict).
Come dinner, executive chef David Bull turns down the lights but somehow cranks up the modern American flavor even more. The linguine aglio e olio, made with lump crab, olive oil and a Sorrento granny’s love, was one of the top meals we had in the city, while the Congress Burger, stacked high with ground brisket, shallot confit, horseradish pickles and more goodness, looked absolutely divine from across the table.
We coupled our meal with a Southern Bourbon Sour and toasted to the fact that we only needed to roll ourselves a few feet to the elevator after our meal.
Seemingly like everyone else working at the property, Second Bar + Kitchen staffer Jonathan Itchon has mastered the art of keeping his distance while staying connected to the guest. Oh, and we’re not merely talking about refilling Sprite glasses here; Itchon is the kind of guy who greets you on the second day of your stay by asking if you’d like another order of the heavenly strawberry-lavender scones because he recalls how quickly you devoured them the morning before.
The same applies to his coworker, Janet Brigham. Ever warm, Brigham shows an interest in your decision-making process as opposed to simply being someone jotting down an omelet order. Those are the sorts of things you remember about an experience long after you’ve put the fork down.
But it didn’t stop with the restaurant. We had similarly pleasant interactions with the front-desk operator (“Of course, you can check in a little earlier”) and valet (“Need a water for the road?”) — without doing much to prompt either.
As we mentioned, Archer Hotel Austin sits in Domain Northside, a well-thought-out, higher-end project composed of residences, restaurants and a remarkable assortment of businesses. The all-too-rare Away luggage showroom and Erin Condren stationery boutique are here. You also will spot an Amazon bookstore and one of those odd Capital One Cafés. The Domain has clearly been marked as a place where Madison Avenue comes to experiment with ideas.
The other great thing about the hotel’s location is that it’s so close to the MoPac Expressway, which basically takes you into the heart of town. You can get from your room to famed Allens Boots on South Congress Avenue in under 20 minutes. We found ourselves on the University of Texas campus in roughly 15 minutes.
And when it’s finally time to say goodbye to the Archer, you can take your time leaving because Austin–Bergstrom International Airport is only 25 minutes away.