Jane and I visited the esteemed Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin on the occasion of our son’s graduation from the University of Texas. Yippee for him! An important mile-stone in his life (and Jane’s) and he even has a couple of job opportunities already! Another yippee for him!! The Driskill website describes the facility as follows: Built in 1886 as the showplace of cattle baron Jesse Driskill, The Driskill Hotel remains a legendary landmark in Texas hospitality. As a member of The Historic Hotels of America and Associated Luxury Hotels International, The Driskill offers an elite level of luxury accommodations and services, as one the world’s finest hotels.
Located in downtown Austin, the iconic and historic hotel is convenient to the best of Austin – including the Texas State Capitol, the Austin Convention Center, Lady Bird Lake, The Long Center for the Arts, Austin City Limits at the Moody Theater, opera, symphony, casual and fine dining, shopping, and Austin’s world-famous 6th Street music scene. Known as the Live Music Capital of the World®, Austin is home to almost 200 music venues, many within walking distance of The Driskill. And, the management touts the Driskill Grill as having received many accolades and is listed in Zagat’s Top 25 Hotel Restaurants. They serve many unique entrees and some wild game offerings.
When we made the reservation at the Driskill, I asked for an early check-in (their normal is 3pm) and was told there would be no problem. I was told to call on the morning of arrival and our request would be honored. I did make the call on the drive and was told a room would be ready. But, when we actually arrived, the front desk told me that normal check-in for a week-end day was 4pm, not 3pm, and that nothing would be available early. Of course, I pitched a hissy-fit and they agreed to try to accommodate our need to freshen-up prior to going to the commencement exercises. Reluctantly, they agreed to call my cell phone as soon as a room was available and we decided to visit the other restaurant in the hotel, the 1886 Cafe. We ordered the 1886 burger and the main feature of the burger was that it was big! And, pricey, too!
The commencement ceremonies went well. By that I mean that the commencement address, delivered by a liberal professor, was short. We had great seats and Jane even shed a tear when our guy, proudly, crossed the stage, got his diploma, and was off on the next adventure in his life. Holding a couple of job offers already……he is in a wonderful position as a new graduate in this crappy economy.
After the ceremony, Jane and I hustled back to the Driskill for dinner in the Driskill Grill. BTW, I have never seen as much real marble in a hotel in my life. The place is posh and rich looking. I guess that is one of the reasons the room rates are so high. You cannot stay at the Driskill for less than $200 per night + taxes of 20% + $28 for valet parking! In all fairness to the Driskill, one cannot find a good hotel in downtown Austin without paying through the nose.
Dinner at the Grill was, well, how to express it, interesting. The menu offered a range of entrees and, for some reason I cannot explain, I ordered Parrot Fish!! Perhaps the ghosts that are supposed to inhabit the Driskill took over my soul as I read the menu. Jane had Quail (which was the size of a mockingbird) and when I ordered something you could buy at Petsmart, she looked at me like I had two heads. I might as well have ordered “road kill.”
After dinner, I drug Jane out onto 6th Street for a stroll. The difference between the clientele in the Driskill and the riff-raff on 6th Street was night and day. 6th Street may be the live music capital of the world, but it is also a gathering place for drunk, dingy college students, tattooed homeless guys, tobacco/pot smokers, and others looking for a walk on the wild side. After 2 blocks, Jane drug me back to the safety and opulence of the Driskill.
After reading this post, you may have concluded that this was a bad week-end. Quite the opposite! Jane and I have great memories and stories to tell; and watching a young man come into his own will live on forever with us.
But, I doubt we will ever visit the Driskill again. Maybe the ghosts were too much for us!