History is repeating itself—welcome back, Roaring the 20s!—nowhere more so than at Commodore Perry Estate, Auberge Resorts Collection, a restored mansion from the Jazz Age on ten acres of land in Austin, Texas. Upon selling in 1944, the property’s original owner said, “It’s a great place to throw a party, but too big to live in.” He would know. He lived there for sixteen years. And he threw a lot of parties.
That was Edgar Howard “Commodore” Perry, who made his fortune in the cotton business. He and his wife Lutie were the original Austin socialites. Seeing as their home is now a luxury resort with a new building in addition to the mansion and a total of 54 guest rooms and suites, the guy had a point about the size. I think he’d love what the place has become. He’d love the guy who bikes around the grounds selling ice cream, he’d love to see sunbathers stretched out around the pool, he’d love to hear the old records playing in the parlor. And he’d really love the weddings, the birthday celebrations, the drinking and merry-making.
The Commodore Perry Estate is part the 1920s, part 2020s. The “old”—original tile flooring, for instance; leather-bound classic novels; a real gramophone—very much meets the “new.” And the new is courtesy of none other than Ken Fulk, one of the most sought-after designers in the world. Fulk repeatedly scoured the nearby Round Top Antique Show, collecting pieces to mix and match with his signature sophisticated whimsy: Bright wallpapers, leopard prints, hand-woven rugs, gauzy bed draping, vintage relics, and the original artwork of local artists render the hotel as much a luxury retreat as a sight-seeing destination.
Fulk also designed the on-site fine-dining restaurant Lutie’s, where plants grow lush and wild from the ceiling alongside chandeliers, and the designer’s eye for color is on full display: Black and white checkered flooring complements the deep turquoise of the velvet chairs and the old-timey charm of the polished, brass-accented bar. The servers know the menu like it’s an old friend; they will tell you what to order and you should believe them. (But don’t skip the Kouign Amann Ice Cream for dessert.)
For those who prefer to dine al fresco, the restaurant’s crown jewel is its terrace, where guests can sit and admire the estate grounds—manicured grass cut by walking paths and a stone fountain; the swimming pool surrounded by yellow and white lounge chairs and umbrellas. Those grounds might be the hotel’s greatest asset—perfect for parties. At night, the string lights switch on and if you’re watching the well-dressed people from the Lutie’s terrace, you feel like you’re hurtled back in time and into fiction like you’re Nick Carroway seeing one of Jay Gatsby’s summer soirees from a remove: “…those gleaming, dazzling parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden…”.
The hotel offers a rotating list of “experiences”—private shopping, a romantic picnic for two in an open-air tent, a class in making infused spirits, candle-light meditation, and a sound bath on the lawn. Be sure to check the website to see which experiences coincide with your stay—there’s always fun to have, and therefore, there’s little need to leave the grounds. That said, you’re in Austin, the most beautiful city in Texas. When you venture out, why not keep the Roaring ‘20s vibe going? If you visit next November, you can buy tickets to the Austin Area Jazz Festival, but any other time, Parker Jazz Club offers live jazz four nights a week. Here Nor There is a sexy Prohibition-style speakeasy. Milonga Room is another cool speakeasy under Buenos Aires Café.
But in the wee hours when you’ve had enough, when it’s time to peel off your flapper dress and feather-and-pearl headpiece, you can’t do better than any of the Commodore Perry Estate rooms and suites. You’ll love your rain-water shower, your cocktail cart, your soft Luna Zorro robe, and the bed where you can finally rest in, as Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby, “the most poignant moments of night and life.”