These Two Austin Hotels Are Great Places for a Texas Getaway

Plus: Top travel apps, kid-friendly Europe, and a way to speed up O’Hare travel.

Poolside at Travaasa Austin
Photo: Courtesy of Travaasa Austin

This is Texas? A pool with a view at Austin’s Travaasa resort and spa

If balmy May temperatures in the 70s and 80s aren’t reason enough to visit Austin, Texas right now, here are two more: The Heywood Hotel and Travaasa Austin. Stay in hip East Austin—surrounded by boutiques, coffee houses and some of the city’s best taquerias—at the Craftsman-style, seven-room Heywood Hotel (1609 E. Cesar Chavez St., 512-271-5522; from $249), recently named one of the 154 best new hotels in the world on Condé Nast Traveler’s 2013 Hotel Hot List.

Or go cowboy 30 minutes away in Texas Hill Country at Travaasa Austin (13500 Farm to Market Rd. 2769, 512-258-7243; from $200), a luxury resort and spa focused on local culture and guided activities such as Texas Two-Step lessons, yoga, harmonica, salsa making, and sunrise horseback rides. In early April, the resort (whose pool is pictured above) unveiled a new 3.25-acre organic farm that includes a sizeable green house, a garden for hands-on classes, and a chicken coop that’s home to five breeds. “The soil has a lot of fertility and is located in a gorgeous valley at the base of a Texas canyon,” says farm manager Kim Grabosky. Grabosky says the farm’s 80 varieties of vegetables, fruit, native pecans, edible flowers, and medical herbs will find their way into the resort’s culinary offerings and spa treatments.

Before you go, get to know this music-scene-driven city with Chicago magazine’s guide to Austin.
 

24 Travel Apps You Didn’t Know You Needed Until Now

Instagram, Google Maps, and The Weather Channel have earned top rankings as must-have apps for travelers, but there’s a raft of smartly designed newcomers worthy of a spot on your device, especially if you like to vacation overseas. CityMaps2Go, Trip Lingo, Travel List, and Chefs Feed are just a few of the digital tools that made Fathom’s useful roundup of the 24 Best Travel Apps of 2013.
 

Here Are Four European Cities Your Kids Will Love

The obstacle for many parents contemplating a big international trip is simple itinerary planning—where to go and what to see with kids in tow. “We’ve found that certain cities work better than others, and that setting aside time to escape from the hot urban jungle is the key to keeping everyone sane,” writes Henley Vasquez at National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel blog. Find out why Barcelona, Paris, Rome, and London earned spots in Vasquez’s recent post about family-friendly Europe.
 

Today’s Cruise Ship Bartender Brings More Art and Smarts

“It’s impossible not to wonder what the man who still personifies this job [The Love Boat bartender Isaac Washington] would make of what it’s become: whether Isaac would even recognize what we do today.” So writes journalist Bruno Maddox in “I Was a Cruise Ship Bartender,” in which he notes that your average seafaring cocktail slinger is hardly just a cute, moustachioed conversation partner. Read his amusing first-person account from the May issue of Travel + Leisure.
 

At O’Hare, Say Goodbye to the Customs Declaration Form

Last week, the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announced that O’Hare International Airport will be the first in the nation to replace the U.S. Customs Declaration Form with a new self-service process via 32 new kiosks, scheduled for installation by July 1. The Chicago Tribune has a photo of the new devices, already in use in Vancouver.

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