I just booked our reward nights at Holiday Inn Austin – Town Lake for the music portion of SXSW (March 17 – 22, 2015). Badges go on sale in the next week or so, if the schedule stays the same as previous years. Once that happens, there will be nothing left. So if you want to save some serious bucks and avoid couch surfing, this is your chance!
Holiday Inn Austin – Town Lake (20 North Ih-35) has reward nights available for the entire music portion of the festival at this time. We really liked using this hotel as a home base last year, because it’s just on the edge of the craziness of downtown but steps away from the Rainey Street venues and awesome food trucks. Reward nights are a reasonable 25,000 IHG reward points per night (or 15,000 + $70/night). Don’t have enough points? You can always do the (not so) secret workaround.
If don’t mind a short hike, Hampton Inn & Suites Austin @ The University/Capitol (1701 Lavaca Street) also has rooms available for the entire conference/festival at 50,000 HHonors points per night. This is about the same distance from the action as the Holiday Inn, just in the opposite direction and a up a slight incline from Sixth Street.
The rest of the hotels at the edge of downtown are already sold out of award nights, as many didn’t offer them in the first place because of demand. That being said, there are many other hotels available outside downtown on various shuttle routes. I would still book as soon as possible if you have the points available.
I must say, if you can score a hotel through SXSW Housing right when badges go on sale, they do offer decent rates. Last year I was able to grab the Holiday Inn Austin – Town Lake and I think it was about $210/night. I ended up cancelling because I decided to use my pre-booked award nights to save extra money.
Good luck, and see you in Austin!