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South By Southwest is A popular ten-day music, film and interactive festival in Austin, Texas. The whole city is taken over by shows, talks and gigs which makes finding SXSW accommodation extremely difficult.
We have attended South By many times so you can trust us when we say, finding SXSW hotels and hostels is not easy.
You have to expect to pay two to three times the amount of normal Austin prices (regardless of hotel location), book fast, and be flexible.
If your boss isn’t paying, you might need to accept that a downtown Austin hotel is not for you this year!
Don’t worry though, there are lots of affordable ways to get around Austin such as Uber, Lyft, e-scooter, e-bikes and the SXSW bus.
You may also like our ultimate SXSW guide.
Hotels for SXSW in Austin
SXSW opens its e-doors around August each year, however, the dates for the following year are announced as soon as the festival is over.
Personally, we have never waited until August, opting to search and book as soon as we decide we are going.
South By Southwest 2024 runs from March 8-16, 2024.
When searching for South By Southwest hotels remember, it is just a bed.
You can grab cheap tacos for breakfast in the city or tap a free breakfast party.
This helps keep the SX costs down.
Add another $10-25 on per day to the cost of the accommodation if you are booking where you need to take a car share into town and back again at night.
Hotels Closest to Austin Conference Center
The hub for SXSW is the Austin Conference Center. This is where you pick up your badges, attend panels and visit the trade show.
The Center is also very close to 6th and Rainey Street where many of the official and unofficial parties take place.
Expect the following hotels to be around the $800-£1200 per night during SXSW.
Hilton Hotel $$$
Don’t get excited about the Hilton unless your work is paying. SXSW and Hilton team up, they are an official hotel for the conference. However, you can book dates just before.
The reliable Hilton Hotel is on 4th, a prime downtown location for SX festival-goers.
- Pros: Location, pool.
- Cons: Price, official SX location so wait to book.
- Address: 500 East 4th Street, Austin.
- Distance from Austin Convention Center: 1 min walk.
Fairmont Austin Hotel $$$
One of the best things about the Fairmont Austin Hotel, aside from being super close to the Conference Center, is the rooftop bar and pool, according to guests.
You can literally roll out of bed, grab a free SX breakfast at whatever central party is throwing tacos your way and head into the Conference Center.
The hotel also has gym if the guilt kicks in, a spa to soothe the fear and an outdoor swimming pool for catching some rays.
There’s a bar on-site for a hair of the dog as well as a restaurant with room service if you get the munchies.
- Pros: Location, rooftop pool and bar.
- Cons: Price.
- Address: 101 Red River Street, Austin, TX 78701.
- Distance from Austin Convention Center: 6 mins walk.
THE Line $$$
Ultra hip, THE Line is a minimalist hotel with a rustic feel in a prime location.
Only a six-minute walk from the Convention Center and a 17-minute stumble away from Rainey Street, this modern hotel is one for Instagram fans.
Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, the hotel itself has a heated pool and sun terrace.
Free bikes for guests.
- Pros: Super modern and hip, pool, location.
- Cons: Price.
- Address: 111 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, TX 78701.
- Distance from Austin Convention Center: 9 mins walk.
Hotels Closest to Rainey Street Parties
Rainey Street is the hub for free parties.
The street has a handful of historic houses (modern development moving in is a sore point for natives) with cute courtyards.
You can expect something going down in the parking lots at the top of the street.
Whether it be food trucks or an Amazon Prime party (2019), it is always jumping.
Rainey Street to Austin Convention Center is an easy 13-minute walk past all the bustling SX events, PRs with free swag, and tuk-tuks.
Holiday Inn Austin-Town Lake $$
Holiday Inn Austin – Town Lake looks like a winner. Great location, only an eight-minute walk to Rainey Street.
Guests can enjoy an on-site continental breakfast, hotel shuttle and views of the lake.
There’s also a sun terrace and an outdoor swimming pool with views of the city.
Our friends moved here after being robbed at an out-of-town cheap hotel during SX.
- Pros: Location, fair price, views of the lake, pool, airport shuttle.
- Cons: Decor is basic if you prefer something more hip or luxurious.
- Address: 20 North IH-35, Austin, TX 78701, USA
- Distance to Rainey Street: eight mins walk.
Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt $$$
Incredible location on Rainey Street, it is no surprise David Tennant stayed here during his visit to SXSW.
We also spotted Sam Fender in the hotel coffee shop during a much-needed 30-minute break from the madness.
Aside from celeb-spotting, Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt offers lots of amenities such as a rooftop pool with bar, room, fitness center, valet parking and free bikes.
The hotel also puts on a few music shows during SX.
- Pros: Elegant, hip, on Rainey Street.
- Cons: Price.
- Address: 605 Davis Street, Austin, TX 78701, USA
- Distance to Rainey Street: it’s on it!
Hotels Closest to Dirty Sixth Street
Ah, Dirty Sixth. The heartbeat of Austin. Love it or hate, 6th Street is where many tourists first touch base in the city.
Expect pizza slice shops, bars with balconies (excellent for people watching) and flying cars down the middle of the street.
Sixth is closed to traffic during SX. Red River, the popular party street, is just one turn-off Dirty Sixth.
Here you will find Cheer Up Charlies (Twilight Sad 2015), Mohawk (Broken Social Scene 2019), Stubbs (Chvrches 2016) who host a mix of badge only and free parties.
→ Gigs get noisy by the way, buy some ear-protecting earplugs.
Dirty Sixth to Austin Convention Center is a mere five-minute walk.
The Guild Lavaca St, The Guild $$
The Guild Lavaca St is actually an apartment hotel. If you are looking for something that feels more like home in the middle of the party, The Guild Lavaca St may be for you.
Studios and apartments can accommodate one to six people, so consider that when calculating the costs.
Even though it is an apartment, there is an outdoor swimming pool that guests can use as well as a fitness suite.
Each apartment has its own private bathroom, kitchen with dishwasher, oven and microwave. The apartments also have air-con.
- Pros: Private space apartment, location, pool.
- Cons: Price, however, remember to divide by the number of people in your group.
- Address: 201 Lavaca Street, Austin, TX 78701, USA
- Distance to Dirty 6th: 13 mins walk.
The Firehouse (hostel) is pretty much on Dirty Sixth.
Check below for Austin hostels options which make accommodation during SXSW more affordable.
Cheap Hotels in Austin During SXSW
The reality is, the cheaper the SX hotel, the further you have to travel to get to downtown.
Consider car shares or public transport and add $10-25 per day to your budget.
Days Inn By Wyndham Austin/University/Downtown $
Days Inn By Wyndham Austin is an affordable Austin hotel with spacious clean rooms and an outdoor swimming pool.
The hotel is located near 31st but is close to a bus stop for those looking to use public transport to downtown.
Note: not all public transport stops operate normally during SX.
All the expected mod cons featured in the room. Continental breakfast also included in the price.
- Pros: Affordable, clean, breakfast included, public bus stop.
- Cons: Distance. Use a car share to get back from downtown at night.
- Address: 3105 North Interstate 35, Austin, TX 78722.
- Distance to 6th: 44 mins walk.
Rodeway Inn and Suites Austin
Guests who have stayed at Rodeway Inn and Suites Austinsay that the rooms are large, comfortable and clean.
The hotel is located in a quiet area with a four-star Tex Mex restaurant close by.
- Pros: Affordable, clean, breakfast included.
- Cons: Distance. Use a car share to get in and out of downtown.
- Address: 6201 US 290 East, Austin, TX 78723.
- Distance to 6th: 1 hour 40 mins walk.
Don’t be put off by the thought of trying one of the hostels in Austin.
We stayed in a private room at the HI Hostel twice and our friends booked the dorm.
For those on a budget during SX, Austin’s hostels are a great option for affordability and some are super close to the action. I’ve noted the walking distance to 6th Street as a reference point. Add another five minutes on for the Convention Center.
The Firehouse, Austin
The Firehouse is a modern hostel in central downtown, less than five minutes walk from Dirty 6th.
This is the largest hostel in Texas, located in the oldest standing fire station in Austin.
The Firehouse has private rooms and shared dorms. Towels are free as is breakfast.
Lockers situated under the bunks are available to guests. Each bed has its own power outing, ideal for SXSW as you need your phone at all times.
If you need a break from the SX crowd, The Firehouse has a bar attached selling craft beer and cocktails.
- Address: 605 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701.
- Distance to 6th Street: 4 minutes.
Brilliantly located, The Native, is a stylish and modern hotel on the east side of Austin.
This ‘luxury hostel’ has glowing reviews for comfortable living space and cleanliness.
Guests like that it is next to a busy bar but you can’t hear the noise from it.
Private rooms and small dorm beds are available for booking and a basic continental breakfast is included in the price.
- Address: 807 East 4th Street, Austin, TX 78702, USA.
- Distance to 6t Street: 10 mins walk.
You would assume that Airbnb rentals are your cheapest option in Austin during SXSW but that is wrong!
Many homeowners know that you can charge three times the amount of their normal rental fee during the festival because beds are in demand.
We’ve stayed in seven Airbnb private rooms or garden houses during our time in Austin. Six required car share travel to get close to the action.
We’ve also had three Airbnb hosts cancel on us when they realized that SXSW was during our booked dates.
Mighty frustrating when you think you have secured a fair deal.
If using Airbnb, fire a message to the host to confirm that they know that SX is happening during that time. It’s best to lose the booking now as opposed to just weeks before.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should I stay for SXSW?
This really depends on your budget. If you can spare $800-1000 per night then go for prime location.
If you are on a tighter budget, go further afield and factor in a $20 share ride fee for getting into downtown and back at night.
What is the best SXSW hotel?
This comes down to personal preference.
Want hip? Check out THE Line. Want views? Go for the Fairmont. Looking for something affordable but close? Holiday Inn Austin – Town Lake.
As you can see there is no shortage of hotels in Austin during SXSW. The biggest dilemma will be a balance between location and price. Then you need to contend with availability.
Don’t be afraid to consider one of Austin’s hostels if budget is dictating your SX trip and as soon as you see a good deal, book it! It won’t last for long.
Make friends and who knows, maybe next year you’ll have a sofa to stay on. People in Austin are super friendly and some, not all, take advantage of the free parties too!
Where do you recommend staying during SXSW?
Tell us in the comments below.