One of the most influential music and art festivals in the world, SXSW, is expected to draw thousands to Austin, Texas when it begins March 12.

Texas Tourism's tagline is "It's like a whole other country," which is actually not that far from the truth. Texas is the largest of the US mainland states at 267,277 square miles (692, 244 square kilometers) - larger, in fact, than France. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport alone is larger than Manhattan, boasts the state's tourism agency.

Dallas is often the first stop for tourists, and according to official figures, the Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington areas are the most popular tourist destination. Houston, home of the Space Centre, is the next-most popular region, followed by San Antonio and then Austin/Round Rock, home of SXSW (South by Southwest).

Texas estimates that 136.9 million people visited for leisure in 2008, up 3.1 percent on 2007. The majority of international visitors come from the Americas, with Mexico the largest representation, followed by Canada and then Brazil. Europeans make up a surprisingly small proportion - under half a million, and the majority from the United Kingdom.


Luxury hotels make up the majority of Dallas's top five hotels, although the five-star Ritz Carlton is beaten by the four-star Grand Hyatt and Kimpton hotels in the ranking. The Grand Hyatt is praised for its location, and described as "probably the best airport hotel I've ever stayed in" by one traveler.

1. Grand Hyatt DFW
2. Embassy Suites Hotel Dallas - Love Field
3. Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek
4. Hotel Palomar Dallas - a Kimpton Hotel
5. Ritz-Carlton Dallas

Average price of top five hotels $264/€193


An Element (the eco-hotel range offered by Starwood) property claims top place in Houston, home of US Space Tourism. It has, according to one traveler, the "best lobster pizza in the business," as well as Energy Star kitchens and floors made of recycled tires.

1. Element by Westin Houston Vintage Park
2. Hilton Garden Inn Houston Energy Corridor
3. Magnolia Hotel Houston
4. Super 8 IAH West / Greenspoint
5. Modern B&B

Average price of top five hotels $159/€116

San Antonio

San Antonio is home of the Alamo, Texas's most popular attraction. It's the seventh largest city in the US, but the top five hotels are mid-range, moderately priced hotels - not a five-star property in sight.

1. Drury Plaza Hotel Riverwalk
2. Comfort Suites Stone Oak
3. Staybridge Suites San Antonio Airport
4. Courtyard San Antonio Northwest at The RIM
5. Embassy Suites Hotel San Antonio International Airport

Average price of top five hotels $150/€110


The top two hotels in Austin are budget Super 8 properties with average rates of around $109 (€80) a night. The fifth most popular hotel is the $947 (€693) a night Lake Austin spa resort, described by one traveler as "the vacation of a lifetime."

1. Super 8 - 183 Airport
2. Super 8 Airport South
3. AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center
4. Homewood Suites by Hilton Austin-Arboretum/NW
5. Lake Austin Spa Resort

Average price of top five hotels $314/€229 (Average price of top four - $156/€114)

Corpus Christi

Corpus Christi is nicknamed the "sparkling city by the sea," and the V Boutique hotel is the most popular property, only a stone's throw away from the beach. Guests praised the "beautiful retreat" and "impeccable décor"

1. V Boutique Hotel
2. Comfort Suites Central
3. Comfort Suites Near Texas A and M - Corpus Christi
4. Hilton Garden Inn Corpus Christi
5. Staybridge Suites Corpus Christi

Average price of top five hotels $136/€100

Data is taken from millions of independent reviews and rankings surveyed at TripAdvisor.