Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Having been to Austin, TX umpteen times, The Driskill Hotel has always caught my eye. Sure I have a knack for luxurious and historical fancies as my friends and family can attest, but there’s something else that sets this enormous property apart from everything else on the iconic Sixth Street.

Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the first outgoing call in all of Texas was placed at the Driskill many years ago. Or maybe it’s all the history fancifully packed into the 189-rooms (originally only 89 rooms back in 1886) as they continue to celebrate their 125 year anniversary.

Or maybe it has something to do with housing Austin’s highest Zagat rated restaurant, The Driskill Grill, which was also recently awarded Wine Spectator Magazine’s Best of Award of Excellence. The hotel sits within walking distance of some 50 restaurants and 100 clubs/bars/music venues so you’re never at a loss for things to do, see, eat or drink.

Being as Austin is The Live Music Capital of the World, it may have something to do with the live nightly music performances at The Driskill Bar each night while enjoying a glass of bubbly.

Maybe it’s because, as a writer, I take such delight that each floor has books that you can take. All they ask is that you leave one in its place, though I don’t recommend this because they are such historical books that add an extra element to the halls. Who would want to deprive the next guest from a piece of classic literature and instead leave the ridiculous nonsense of Tucker Max? Certainly not I.

My love for the Driskill might also have something to do with all the hauntings and ghost stories the property has become sensationally known for. It’s even believed that Johnette Napolitano, the lead singer for Concrete Blonde, wrote about her ghostly experience at the Driskill in her song “Ghost of a Texas Ladies’ Man,” which is rumored to be about hotel owner and builder Colonel Jesse Driskill who died three years after the hotel opened. It is said that since he was not able to enjoy his namesake creation, Colonel Driskill haunts the hotel to this day. The Colonel makes his presence known by smoking cigars in guests’ rooms and playing with their bathroom lights.

In the early 1990’s, a Houston socialite who was engaged took a vacation to Austin to recuperate after her fiancé called off the wedding. The woman booked a room at the hotel for an entire week and went on a shopping spree with her ex-fiancé’s credit cards. After her extended shopping journey, she returned to the hotel and took her own life in her room. A houseman who is still employed with the hotel later found her. This socialite is most often seen around Halloween. Guests have seen her in the halls wearing a modern wedding gown, gun in hand. A few years ago, this “bride” was seen in the restrooms on the balcony level. A woman went into the bathroom while her husband stood outside the door. While she was in there, an unknown female leered at her from under the door. The woman screamed and her husband came running in. He felt someone move past him, but saw no one.

According to Driskill lore, a U.S. Senator was visiting Austin and stayed at the hotel. While he was attending an event on the Mezzanine, the senator’s 4-year-old daughter was playing with a ball near the grand staircase. The young girl tripped and fell to the base of the stairs, tragically dying. Some nights, she can be heard bouncing the ball down the steps and giggling.
It has also been “documented” that Annie Lennox stayed at the hotel. Undecided about what to wear to the concert, she laid out two dresses before taking a shower. When she got out of the shower, one of the dresses had been put away.

Ghost stories and delicious five-star dining aside, maybe it’s just the simple fact my mom has finally found a place in the confines of the great state of Texas that she enjoys visiting for a fun-filled mother/daughter weekend (coming from the East Coast, she isn’t a fan of visiting my new humble abode in Houston).

Driskill Hotel | 604 Brazos Street, Austin, TX 78701 | 512.474.5911 | driskillinfo@destinationhotels.com

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