Staycation: Intimate, sensual Hotel Saint Cecilia

By: Melissa Savoie
October, 2022

I’m sitting next to a glistening pool, surrounded by walls covered in ivy, guarded by the statues of two sphinx-bodied women in corsets who watch over an elaborate metal gate. I’m all alone. I haven’t been so relaxed in months. Bacon, soft scrambled eggs, coffee, a blank notebook and a delightfully sharp pencil are my only companions. The air is cool, a remarkable happening in Austin this year, and the rolling, grassy grounds of the hotel are just visible beyond the greenery surrounding the pool. On the private grounds of Hotel Saint Cecilia, the 50-foot heated pool is the center of the lush landscape. 

The poolside bungalow at Hotel Saint Cecilia. Contributed by Nick Simonite

Open 24 hours a day to guests, the pool area has a tranquil, calm vibe. Like a moth drawn to light, I wanted to be in and next to the pool for most of my visit. Heavy, cushioned lounge chairs and a vintage-looking cooler filled with icy cans of water line the edges. The graceful branches of a giant oak tree flow out over the courtyard shading the glossy, emerald grass and seeming to tuck the whole property in cozily from the sky. 

I’m here away from my family, staying overnight with a friend. She rented the poolside bungalow. The stairs are hidden behind a neon Soul sign, which lights up the pool at night with a steamy, rose glow. We spent last night swimming back and forth along the pool and floating on our backs, welcoming drink deliveries and cold water until almost 1 in the morning. We had no urge to walk the single block to bustling South  Congress or to leave the grounds. I pleasantly forgot I was in my home city at all. 

The hotel feels like a mixture of history and carefully articulated luxury. Built in 1888, the original Victorian house was once home to a descendant of Davy Crockett. The property was redone in 2008 by hotelier Liz Lambert and reopened as Hotel Saint  Cecilia. 

A month after my initial visit, I returned with my husband, taking a last little trip together before we welcome a new baby. I’m delighted by every piece of artful atmosphere. The deep, soulful sapphire blue of the lobby tucked against the hill and overlooking the pool is filled with the scent of Nag Champa incense. That same spicy aroma seems to float on the air outside, too, giving everything a dreamy, soft quality. 

A suite at Hotel Saint Cecilia. Contributed by Nick Simonite

Our room faces the city and the buildings look far away and small from our stone balcony. We spend our day swimming, sitting cross-legged on cracked leather sofas outside the lounge with a beautiful cheese plate and bourbon for him. In the courtyard, elaborate chandeliers hang from the trees, lighting up intimate tables for two all around us. We wander the small property barefoot in soft indigo cotton robes, hand-dyed and light on the skin. As I lounge by the pool, I don’t even want to read because I just want to soak up this feeling of being perfectly at ease and pleased with the environment. 

The lounge at Hotel Saint Cecilia. Contributed by Nick Simonite

Every room has a record player. At night, we borrow records from the front office and lounge on a modular leather couch in our room. I light a candle, which floats dreamily in water and listen to Nina Simone, her rich, throaty voice bringing me into a  heavenly calm. I want Saint Cecilia to come and redo my house, to make every element feel so harmonious and peaceful. Music plays all over the property, an intoxicating and calming mix of old and new voices in the courtyard and in the pool. Being surrounded by music is just one more tangible, sensory addition to the otherworldly feeling of serenity and a call to the namesake saint of the hotel: Saint Cecilia, patron of art and music.

If you need an intimate, restorative escape right in Austin, Hotel Saint Cecilia is a  gorgeous retreat. I loved being there with friends and sharing a romantic weekend there with my partner. The property is peaceful, tranquil and secluded. I found it hard to leave.  

If you go: Stay in a poolside bungalow to get the best barefoot access to the pool. If you can bring yourself to leave the property, there are endless options for dining and entertainment on South Congress. Try the two-block walk to Aba, a Mediterranean restaurant with a delicious menu and a lush, plant-filled patio. https://hotelsaintcecilia.com/

Follow Austin Travels


Austin Travels is a women-owned, Austin-based travel magazine committed to highlighting destinations in Texas and beyond through the lenses of diverse and talented writers.

Subscribe

5 unique ideas for embracing the holidays in Austin this December

5 unique ideas for embracing the holidays in Austin this December

Embrace the most wonderful time of year at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa

Embrace the most wonderful time of year at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa

A Dozen Central Texas Pumpkin Patches Near Austin

A Dozen Central Texas Pumpkin Patches Near Austin

Staycation: Intimate, sensual Hotel Saint Cecilia

Staycation: Intimate, sensual Hotel Saint Cecilia

Gone glamping: Get away, comfortably, this fall near Austin

Gone glamping: Get away, comfortably, this fall near Austin

Relax and unwind in Round Top, Texas

Relax and unwind in Round Top, Texas

August Festivals: 10 Texas towns to visit this month

August Festivals: 10 Texas towns to visit this month

Seeking out adventure and finding respite at Horseshoe Bay Resort

Seeking out adventure and finding respite at Horseshoe Bay Resort

Family friendly fun in San Antonio (even if your kids bail on you)

Family friendly fun in San Antonio (even if your kids bail on you)

Bastrop State Park: A backyard gem, then and now

Bastrop State Park: A backyard gem, then and now

Summer love! 5 water parks to consider across Texas

Summer love! 5 water parks to consider across Texas

Nine Nearby, Natural Spots to Keep Cool this Summer

Nine Nearby, Natural Spots to Keep Cool this Summer

June festivals: 10 Texas Towns Worth a Trip

June festivals: 10 Texas Towns Worth a Trip

Hiking, horses and history at Hill Country State Natural Area

Hiking, horses and history at Hill Country State Natural Area

Explore the great outdoors in little Castell, Texas

Explore the great outdoors in little Castell, Texas

Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Houston, Texas

Four Seasons Hotel Houston, Houston, Texas

Heading to Brenham? You’re in for a treat

Heading to Brenham? You’re in for a treat

5 hotel pools ideal for beating Austin’s summer heat

5 hotel pools ideal for beating Austin’s summer heat

Glamping out at Onera Fredericksburg

Glamping out at Onera Fredericksburg

4 reasons to plan a summer staycation at New Braunfels’ Camp Fimfo

4 reasons to plan a summer staycation at New Braunfels’ Camp Fimfo

April Festivals: Celebrate blooms, berries and birds at these top 10 Texas events

April Festivals: Celebrate blooms, berries and birds at these top 10 Texas events

Go wild: A dozen spots to see Texas bluebonnets and wildflowers

Go wild: A dozen spots to see Texas bluebonnets and wildflowers

A new way to ride: Take an E-bike for a spin

A new way to ride: Take an E-bike for a spin

4 reasons to visit Container City, a new shipping container glamping resort

4 reasons to visit Container City, a new shipping container glamping resort

Flying High at Zip Lost Pines

Flying High at Zip Lost Pines

Three Texas sips to warm you up this winter

Three Texas sips to warm you up this winter

January Festivals: Top 10 Texas events this month

January Festivals: Top 10 Texas events this month

Weekend getaway: Carefree in Concan at 7 Bluff Cabins

Weekend getaway: Carefree in Concan at 7 Bluff Cabins

A winter retreat at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

A winter retreat at Hyatt Regency Lost Pines

10 Magical Holiday Hotels to Check off Your List

10 Magical Holiday Hotels to Check off Your List

Seeking relaxation and uncovering empathy at Miraval Resort

Seeking relaxation and uncovering empathy at Miraval Resort

Soaking in the holidays and Austin’s history at the iconic Driskill Hotel

Soaking in the holidays and Austin’s history at the iconic Driskill Hotel

Wurstfest: New Braunfels’ epic Bavarian bash is back

Wurstfest: New Braunfels’ epic Bavarian bash is back

November Festivals: Top 10 Texas events to check out

November Festivals: Top 10 Texas events to check out

October festivals: 10 top Texas celebrations to check out

October festivals: 10 top Texas celebrations to check out

Remember San Antonio: Why fall is the perfect time to visit

Remember San Antonio: Why fall is the perfect time to visit

Central Texas Camping Guide

Central Texas Camping Guide

Ditching the tent: Glamping out at Lake Bastrop North Shore Park

Ditching the tent: Glamping out at Lake Bastrop North Shore Park

September festivals: 10 top Texas events

September festivals: 10 top Texas events

Texas Glamping Guide

Texas Glamping Guide

Birthday bliss at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort

Birthday bliss at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort

Dive in: 7 swimming holes and natural spots to splash into near Austin

Dive in: 7 swimming holes and natural spots to splash into near Austin

Girls getaway: 24 hours in San Antonio’s Historic Pearl District

Girls getaway: 24 hours in San Antonio’s Historic Pearl District

Splash into summer at La Cantera Resort and Spa

Splash into summer at La Cantera Resort and Spa

Did you know you can daytrip to a medieval castle in the Texas countryside?

Did you know you can daytrip to a medieval castle in the Texas countryside?

A true escape: Domovina Ranch in Smithville

A true escape: Domovina Ranch in Smithville

Daytrip to Dreamland in Dripping Springs: Plus 5 nearby day trips perfect for summer

Daytrip to Dreamland in Dripping Springs: Plus 5 nearby day trips perfect for summer

Royal treatment: 24 hours of spa bliss at one of Houston’s poshest hotels

Royal treatment: 24 hours of spa bliss at one of Houston’s poshest hotels

Ready for Mother’s Day? Austin-area staycations all about celebrating Mom

Ready for Mother’s Day? Austin-area staycations all about celebrating Mom

Photo Essay: The missions of San Antonio

Photo Essay: The missions of San Antonio

Unique hotels: Sleeping in a treehouse at Cypress Valley

Unique hotels: Sleeping in a treehouse at Cypress Valley

Need a break? An Archer Hotel Austin staycation, plus Domain shopping guide

Need a break? An Archer Hotel Austin staycation, plus Domain shopping guide

A ghost town, geese and riverfront bliss at 7A Ranch in Wimberley

A ghost town, geese and riverfront bliss at 7A Ranch in Wimberley

Gruene Hall: Daytrip to this timeless Texas treasure

Gruene Hall: Daytrip to this timeless Texas treasure

Get away while giving back to foster children at stunning Hill Country glamping spot

Get away while giving back to foster children at stunning Hill Country glamping spot

Slipping into resort life at Omni Barton Creek

Slipping into resort life at Omni Barton Creek

Texas bluebonnets are back! 10 wildflower hotspots

Texas bluebonnets are back! 10 wildflower hotspots

Mountain Biking at Reimers Ranch Park

Mountain Biking at Reimers Ranch Park

Relax and relish the coastal charms of Rockport

Relax and relish the coastal charms of Rockport

Social distancing in sleepy Sonora: Escape to a luxury ranch resort 3 hours from Austin

Social distancing in sleepy Sonora: Escape to a luxury ranch resort 3 hours from Austin

Lessons in life and death on the beach in Port Aransas

Lessons in life and death on the beach in Port Aransas