Austin's New High Design Hotel Is the First Mass Timber Hotel on the Continent

Nick Simonite/Courtesy Hotel Magdalena

The property weds a storied past with modern design.

Austin has become a hub for music, food, and art. It's also a design destination with the Bunkhouse group responsible for some of the coolest hotels in Texas. And they just created the sleekest one yet. 

Hotel Magdalena will be the first mass timber hotel in North America and feature four treehouse-like buildings connected by walkways and courtyards. The entire property is inspired by Austin's lake life culture, with each of the 89 rooms decorated in a 1970s style and situated around a swimming pool. The hippie vibe is a nod to the property's past when it was the Terrace Motor Hotel and purchased by Willie Nelson, who converted part of it into the Austin Opry House.


Nick Simonite/Courtesy Hotel Magdalena

As far as design elements, guests will be greeted at the second-floor lobby by a tambour front desk and a custom terrazzo floor. Large windows let light flood in and provide views of the century-old heritage oak. The guest rooms feature bookended windows to allow for a cross breeze and natural light and poured concrete floors with exposed aggregate inspired by the river rocks of Texas. And the vanity and surround tile from Tracey Reinberg of Kismet Tile & Surface in Los Angeles is a striking focal point in the room.

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"We want people to walk into a clean, uncluttered room that's instantly calming," Tenaya Hills, Bunkhouse's VP of Design + Development, told Departures. "We want them to put their feet up, put some music on, and slow down. We want this to feel like an escape to nature but in the middle of a city."


Nick Simonite/Courtesy Hotel Magdalena

Similar design details flow outside as well, where the guest-only pool bar boasts a terracotta and terrazzo bar as well as stamped concrete tile walls. The lush landscape is planted with native Texas species, including bigtooth maples, redbuds, meyer lemon trees, yaupon holly, and little gem magnolia. 

"I love the indoor/outdoor connection; it really makes the experience at this hotel original and a true escape," said Hills. "With nature as core to the hotel concept, our team was focused on very special landscaping, and we were lucky enough to work with Ten Eyck landscaping to make it happen."


Nick Simonite/Courtesy Hotel Magdalena

Other items like Cane-Line rockers and lighting by Santa & Cole and David Weeks add to the overall ambiance while the black and white live music photography from Scott Newton found throughout gives energy to the space. 

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Hills added, "The traveler we had in mind loves Austin, loves what those hot summer nights feel like, and, of course, great food, good music, and the art of relaxing."


Nick Simonite/Courtesy Hotel Magdalena

This marks the company's eighth hotel opening and the first ground-up build in Austin. It is also the largest Bunkhouse hotel in terms of the number of rooms and the only one in Austin with a full-service restaurant, Summer House on Music Lane, and dedicated event space. It is also the first development we have done with a residential component, the Saint Cecilia Residences.