East Austin’s Hotel Eleven ranked second for ‘Best City Hotel’ in the U.S.

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — An east Austin hotel is getting some major recognition after being named the number two Best City Hotel in the United States by Travel+Leisure.

The 14-room hotel Hotel Eleven, located at 1123 East 11th St., also ranked No. 36 on the Top 100 Hotels in the World.

“Unbelievable,” said Shelly Leibham, who owns the hotel with her husband, Mark Vornberg. “I thought it was a typo honestly, it was shocking.”

Travel+Leisure invites readers each year to write in about their experiences on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships and spas for their World’s Best Awards survey.

The hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food and overall value and were classified as either city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

  • Hotel Eleven is one of two Texas hotels that made the top 15. Hotel Emma in San Antonio placed No. 13 on the list.
Hotel Eleven owners
Hotel Eleven owners Shelly Leibham and her husband, Mark Vornberg, pose together. (Photo Courtesy: Hotel Eleven)

The couple’s dream of opening Hotel Eleven came to fruition in 2016 after five years of sharing their love of travel and staying at different hotels every night just to get ideas.

“Her career as a lawyer was you only go to your lawyer when you’re having a bad day and we were walking up to this hotel and it was one of the best days of the year and we thought how do we trade that life for this life where every day would be like coming to a new hotel,” Vornberg shared.

The hotel features three floors of guest rooms, plus a rooftop patio, outdoor patios to share outside of the rooms, a lounge for coffee and drinks, and a rotating artist series showcasing local artists’ work. They even have a hotel cat, Louie, who keeps guests company throughout their stay.

“People make hotel reservations here just because of him,” Leibham joked.

Louie the cat Hotel Eleven
Louie the cat is part of the company you’ll have during your stay at Hotel Eleven. (Photo Courtesy: Hotel Eleven/Shelly Leibham)

The couple have employees working with them who have been there since the beginning, and they say that is what has helped set them apart.

“It’s really the personal touch,” Leibham said. “We had a guest write a note on the back of the note we wrote him, ‘I travel all the time and I really want you to know how wonderful it feels to feel like I’m at home. Please keep doing what you’re doing,’ and he put a heart. And he was really like a tough guy and that to us is exactly why we got into it, to make people feel like they belong no matter what.”

Leibham added that the idea of chasing a dream like theirs is often romanticized, and people don’t realize how difficult the journey and all the small details can be, but they’re grateful the process has been as fruitful as it is, including getting worldwide recognition.

“I hope that it does two things, one gets us more recognition, more booking, more people stay with us but I also hope secondly that it shows my staff how great they are; I get a little emotional, without them we wouldn’t be here,” Leibham said.

It’s called Hotel Eleven because their building is nestled right on the eleventh block of 11th street and the couple got married at 1111 West 11th Street at The Castle on Castle Hill.

“It’s kind of our lucky number,” Vornberg laughed. They’ll celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary on December 7, but maybe — uniquely — an even bigger anniversary will come next year.

The east Austin gem beat out some of New York City and Chicago’s finest boutique hotels as well to make Travel+Leisure’s lists. For more on booking a room and what Hotel Eleven has to offer, go to their website here.

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