Nowadays, people want more from their lodging than just a room to lay down for the night, a continental breakfast and good customer service—they want a memory.
This city has an abundance of well known hotels, but with all of Austin's wonderfully wacky residents why not stay in one of their homes? Whether it's a vacation, staycation or get-together, here are seven local rentals you won't soon forget.
Sculptor's Guest House, $121 per night
Located a short distance from Downtown, UT and the airport, this guest house sits on two acres of art studios so you can truly get into character while you walk the sculpture garden. The house itself is decked out in unique architecture and creative interpretations of ordinary objects, like the onyx stone bathroom, natural wood headboard with matching end tables, and cozy kitchen. The guest house accommodates a maximum of four guests with one bedroom, one bathroom and plenty of couches to crash on for an authentic artist experience.
1940s East Austin Bungalow, $164 per night
This spacious bungalow was built in the 1940s, but you'd never know when you walk inside. The wooded, solemn interior paired with black finishes give the rental a clean, rustic look. Although you'll be staying in a home that is nearly 100 years old, the unit comes complete with all the technology of the modern era. The Bungalow comfortably allows four guests with two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Mid-century modern home, $202 per night
Nicknamed "The Peach Door" after its fruit-hued front entry, this Downtown-adjacent house is packed with texture, natural light and a comfortable interior that will make anyone feel right at home. Located in the coveted Travis Heights neighborhood, guests are just a short walk away from Austin's picturesque arts and culture strip, South Congress. The stay accommodates up to four guests with two bedrooms and one bathroom.
The Bloomhouse by Lodgewell, $822 per night
Don't look for any straight lines in this house—you won't find any. Designed by two University of Texas architects, this lodge is designed to make you feel like you're stepping into a fairytale with its cave-like interior and secluded location in the West Lake Hills woods. You'll know you've arrived at this one bedroom, one bathroom home for four when you see its fantastical head peeking through the trees.
Colorful Clarksville estate, $847 per night
Each room in this massive 3,200 square foot home is cloaked in its own unique personality, from its two-story graffitied living room to its colorful countertops to the industrial wash basin sinks. Less than a mile from downtown, this space is perfect for entertaining or simply soaking in city living. With six beds, four-and-a-half bathrooms and two kitchens in the main house and one bedroom, one bathroom and a full kitchen in the guesthouse, there is room to sprawl out.
Downtown Guest House, $250 per night
This picturesque hippie hideaway sits just two blocks away from South Congress but comes with the privacy of the Hill Country. Built in 1928, the European cottage has exposed ceiling beams, a pebble shower and lush garden filled with large trees on-site. The guest house may be small but with a downstairs bed and loft upstairs, it can still fit four guests without getting crowded.
Historic Casa Cartel, $2,648 per night
Integrating Mexican architecture and art throughout this bespoke villa, the tastefully vibrant interior makes it impossible not to be in a good mood. With natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows, custom murals painted all over the house, a basement theater and a private pool fit for a full summer of lounging, this opulent house is the vacation. The house sits on a corner lot "very close to downtown" and sleeps up to 17 people with nine bedrooms and five bathrooms, so bring the whole crew.
Your perfect stay awaits you!
It's been a few weeks since a viral TikTok revealed poor working conditions at the Montopolis Dollar Tree in southeast Austin, and employee Maggie Lopez is still feeling its effects.
Lopez was filmed working alone at the location May 1 in a since-deleted video that saw 2.9 million views and over 450,000 likes.
In the video, stacked boxes littered the floor, shelves were left unstocked and a leaky, broken air conditioning unit welcomed customers into the understaffed storefront.
@trishmartinez32#x_bazan06#fyp#fypシ#tiktok#friends#like#comment#4upage#4u#share#viralvideo#trending#wow#4upageシ♬ original sound - Patricia Martinez
Lopez, who now works at the dollar store's Springdale location, says she was left with the aftermath of a 90-hour workweek, lost wages and a mystery illness after the store closed a few days later.
"Nobody ever told me... that there was no air conditioning. They didn't tell me there was danger of getting robbed," Lopez told Austonia. "Nobody said anything... they didn't care."
The location didn't shut its doors because of the TikTok exposure: instead, an AC unit specialist doing routine maintenance found employees working in extreme heat and said it was too hot for employees to continue working.
"To operate a business, you have to have your temperature within a certain parameter," Ikaika, the specialist who didn't disclose his full name to protect his job, told Austonia. "As soon as you walk in, you start sweating... it's not good at all."
Lopez said working in 90+ degree heat became the norm in her two months at the location as air conditioning units remained broken for months before the closure. She added some employees, including her former manager and several customers, passed out in the store due to the heat. But she said company leadership remained unresponsive.
Lopez said she sent her district manager, Veronica Oyervides, screenshots of 90+ degree temperatures inside the store. (Maggie Lopez)
Four days after the air conditioning repairman told employees they should no longer keep working at the store, Lopez said her district manager, Veronica Oyervides, was asking her to come back in to prep the location for reopening. Lopez worked May 8 in the shuttered store prepping it for a reopening, which has yet to happen. Oyervides has declined to comment.
Ever since she started working in the deteriorating Dollar Tree, Lopez said she often wakes up with nosebleeds. She said she's constantly thirsty, her hands shake, and she's experiencing headaches and mood swings—symptoms she believes are due to long-term exposure to mold.
Former assistant manager Linnea Bradley told Austonia she has been hospitalized with symptoms linked to heat and stress after working at the store.
"We are sick and corporate does not give a shit," Lopez said. "What kind of damage did these stupid units do to our bodies?"
Lopez hasn't sought care for her symptoms. She says she makes $13.50 an hour and doesn't have health insurance.
Former employees have more complaints than just the heat: Lopez said that personal safety became a concern in the understaffed store. Catherine, a former employee who wished to only reveal her first name, said she's witnessed large-scale theft and instances of mismanagement in her months as a stocker at the location.
"They have no security, no cameras... they don't want you to have anything in writing," Catherine told Austonia. "It's just complete chaos."
Catherine said that she and other hourly employees were given zero hours for weeks on end as managers, who work on salary, were left to run the store alone from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. She said some managers became so desperate they were hiring homeless people to help stock shelves in exchange for a drink and a bite to eat.
While Catherine (top, middle) often had zero-hour weekly schedules, Martinez, who was paid on salary, worked back-to-back 90-hour workweeks. (Catherine) (Claire Partain)
"They actually did have people willing to work, they just refused to give them hours," Catherine said. "I'm not understanding whether Dollar Tree wants to go under... are they doing this as a tax break?"
Other Austin Dollar Tree locations have reported similar issues. Former manager Jonathan Martinez, who says he was supposed to work 45 hours a week, says he was racking up 90+ hour workweeks and sleeping in the store as he shouldered both the Montopolis and William Cannon locations while his newborn baby was in the ICU in March.
Martinez kept extra clothes in this office after working seven-day weeks at two Dollar Tree locations. (Claire Partain)
Martinez said he slept on boxes as he juggled the job and visiting his newborn in the ICU. (Claire Partain)
Martinez said he slept on boxes as he juggled the job and visiting his newborn in the ICU. (Claire Partain)
"As long as the store stays open, there are corporate people getting bonuses," Martinez, who quit last week after receiving a $100 annual bonus, told Austonia. "Six months ago, when corporate people had a shitload of bonuses, that's when they upped the price (of everything in the store from $1 to $1.25)."
In the six months since Dollar Tree hiked its prices to $1.25, it's gained plenty of mostly negative national attention. In February, the Food and Drug Administration shut down an Arkansas distribution plant due to a massive rodent infestation, and several lawsuits have ensued. The company has also come under fire for selling allegedly expired over-the-counter medicine and its worker shortage at locations across the country.
One employee, who still works for Dollar Tree and wished to remain anonymous, said that they've seen or heard that many area locations are near their breaking point.
"I've seen the good, the bad, the bad to worse," they said. "And it's always a rinse repeat kind of thing... How many more (stores) will go? And what about the employees?"
"Every time I would tell (Oyervides) 'I'm just going to close, I can't stand it anymore,' she would say, 'No, no, no,'" Lopez said. "And I'd be so upset because why? They have my paycheck. It's just been mortifying... the most horrible year of my life."
Dollar Tree's regional director did not respond to requests for comment from Austonia.
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Grab a helmet and get active this morning by celebrating Bike to Work Day alongside the city.
The community will gather for a celebration at Austin City Hall starting at 8 a.m. with free tacos, coffee and giveaways.
A few things to remember around bikes:
- Over 80% of bicycle crashes happen at intersections
- It’s important to wear reflective clothing during dark hours
- Drivers should keep a distance—take at least three feet of space when passing.
Residents can find the most comfortable, safe bike routes via the 2022 Austin Bike Map, or rent a MetroBike with the code B2WD2022.