Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Posted by LeAnn Stephenson
I don't need a trip to my therapist to figure out why Austin has always made me feel a little, shall we say, inadequate. It's a city known for it's cosmopolitan and famously talented residents. It's a place populated by many tragically hip "it" girls and boys and those of us plain-old folks who walk around with more modest agendas and a more mundane knowledge of, for instance, the ins and outs of delivering the kids to school, the trick to finishing three loads of laundry in a matter of an hour and what makes for a winning science project. The first group won't let me into their club and the second won't let go of me. Despite the claim that I do, in fact, have this thing called "free will," I secretly fear that my destiny is predetermined. Any day now, the "Southern Lady" signal that is encoded in my DNA will kick in and guide me to live out the remaining years of my life informing others that it's bad manners to wear white shoes before Easter or to don velvet after February, or begin addressing everyone as Honey, Darlin' or "Sugah." Every excursion down to South Congress Avenue underscores the fact that the avant-garde style of my youth has flown the coop!
Despite my neuroses, I love Austin and all it has to offer culturally. Austin's music scene is legendary, especially since the 1987 launch of South by Southwest (SXSW), the wildly successful and internationally recognized music and media conference & festival. March marks the convergence of thousands of music, tech and movie fans and players upon Austin for the afore mentioned festival. I have selflessly decided that I can no longer cater to my ambivalence - the time has come for full disclosure.
In terms of hotels, I am totally obsessed with any venture that is associated with hotelier, Liz Lambert - in a totally "non-stalker-y" way, of course. Her lodging always possesses an indie-hip appeal, be it the vintage-swank glamour of the Hotel Saint Cecilia, the kitschy, industrial appeal of the Hotel San Jose', or the pronounced mid century swank of the "Belmont Hotel in Dallas. Lambert plans to continue with the development for El Cosmico, a modern hippie campground/hotel in Marfa, Texas, as well.
According to Lambert, the Hotel Saint Cecilia was named for the patron saint of poets and musicians. Located in the heart of Austin, the Hotel Saint Cecilia resides on the estate of an historic 1880 Victorian and features a seamless combination of antiques, pop modern furniture, and original artwork. With just 14 rooms scattered among the Victorian and modern bungalows, the hotel is a private haven situated just steps from South Congress and downtown Austin.
Lambert describes her latest incarnation as " . . . really regal with a lot of rock-n-roll thrown in." As noted in a story by Melanie Spencer of Austin American Statesman, Each room in the Hotel Saint Cecilia is equipped with a turntable for guest to enjoy the collection of vintage vinyl, like Lou Reed and The Doors. Lambert also plans on selling art supplies on site and has a collection of poetry books for guest to peruse. Interior appointments feature vintage and modern furniture, tile and dark wood floors, and is the only hotel in North America to feature luxurious Hästen beds.
With Liz's help, I have fired my crack team of psychoanalysts and managed to conquer most of my non-conformist fears. Thanks to Liz, I no longer suffer from glam-a-phobia (fear of being glamorous), posh-a-phobia (the fear of being swank and fashionable), and avant-garde-a-phobia (the fear of being extraordinary or colorful). Lastly, I find it comforting that Ms. Lambert, a native Odessan as am I, has significantly upped the "Cool factor" of Austin and the entire state for that matter!
Photographs courtesy Jackie Caradonio, more of her work can be viewed here.