Many visitors will remember this boutique hotel gem, set in the West Campus area of downtown Austin, as the elegant Mansion at Judges' Hill. However, in 2013 this popular high-end hotel reopened under new ownership, undergoing a $5-million renovation to be reborn as Hotel Ella. The main building, the stately Goodall Wooten Mansion, is a historic Victorian house with ornate Greek columns and wrap-around porches. It was originally built in 1898 as a wedding gift from one of UT's founders, Thomas Wooten, to his son and young bride. During its years as the Mansion at Judges' Hill, the hotel saw the addition of a second building and courtyard, adjacent to the main house, with a distinctive New Orleans style. That structure features modern rooms, suites, and business meeting spaces, along with a long, slender pool. Today, less of the New Orleans vibe remains, and the Hotel Ella has updated the entire property with a sleek, contemporary look. The pool area now features a monochromatic grey color scheme, modern minimalist outdoor furniture, and a less-is-more approach to landscaping. Inside, rooms are handsome, large, and well-appointed, more Texas cattle baron (leather, wood, brass) than stuffy Victorian (no fringed chandeliers or heavy damask draperies here). The spaces are finished with art photography, flat-screen TVs, good lighting, and furniture that has strong, simple lines. The result is a serene retreat in the heart of Austin, just a few short blocks from the Texas State Capitol building, the University of Texas campus, and "The Drag" (Guadalupe Street). The downstairs spaces, including a tony upscale restaurant and full bar, have crystal chandeliers and high-coffered ceilings, with a look that speaks sleek and sophisticated, while whispering old money. I prefer rooms on the second floor of the main house; my husband and I still recall how much we enjoyed having our coffee and breakfast on the wide gallery upstairs overlooking the neighborhood and the city beyond.
Hotel Ella (Formerly Mansion at Judges' Hill)
900 Rio Grande
Our Rating Neighborhood Central/West Campus Phone 800/311-1619 Prices $229–$499 Units 47 Amenities In-room cordless phone, market-style mini bar, same-day valet laundry, bathrobes, custom skin and natural body care products, twice-daily housekeeping, overnight shoeshine service, Wi–Fi (free) Web site Hotel EllaBook a Room Now
Map900 Rio Grande Austin
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.