The downtown location of the Conrad Indianapolis, 50 West Washington Street, Indianapolis, Indiana, can’t be beat. Not only is it on Washington Street — part of the National Road laid out in 1811 from Washington, D.C., and aiming for St. Louis, Missouri, but it’s one block from Meridian (the city’s main north-south street), adjacent to the Artsgarden, and just off the center of town, Monument Circle. The city’s famed Cultural Trail goes right by the front door.
My first impression of the hotel was most favorable due to the prompt, friendly welcome from the valet staff (there’s only valet parking due to the tight location). My car is “processed” quickly, and I’m handed off to the front desk clerk — also well schooled in hospitality.
Hanging above the lobby is a Chihuly-style yellow glass light sculpture (but this one is by Chris Wheeler). Nearby is the Long-Sharp Gallery, featuring rotating exhibits of art for sale. Art is indeed the hotel’s theme.
There are four suites in the “Collection”, all focused on the arts and curated by movement: Pop, Modern, Surrealist and Contemporary. I had the Modern Collection suite: hanging on the walls were prints primarily by Picasso and Miro. A handful of books about art and artists of the period were lined up on the glass shelves over the bar — but most were on a level far above my reach.
My suite, in a corner facing west and south, was spacious and light-filled. An entrance hallway led past a half-bath (for guests of the guest!) and into a room with a table suitable for small conferences or in-room dining. The adjacent sitting room had the largest television screen I’d ever seen in a hotel room (47-inches), matched only by its twin on the back of the same wall which faced the king-sized bed.
The bathroom, with tub, glass-walled shower, television screen imbedded in the mirror, and a closeted toilet was as large as some New York apartments (and offered a selection of eleven identical face cloths as well as an assortment of Bulgari amenities).
Then, it was down to the details: how to turn on the lights? This is the second Conrad property I’ve encountered with what I consider a “too cute” system. There are no switches for on and off. There are a series of small horizontal bars on panels scattered about that are labeled quite mysteriously (morning? evening? welcome? cove?). It takes a lot of experimentation to get exactly the lighting desired (fortunately one “bar” near the bed turned everything off).
The same goes for the window coverings. I figured out that “privacy” brought down the (mostly) opaque screen, and “sheer” operated the (mostly transparent) screen — but at least one of the buttons did nothing at all.
Then there was the light over the desk: elegant, sleek, all white, and shaped like an upside-down “L”. I finally had to turn it upside down to find the on and off switches, which turned out to be brown discs flat with the surface on either side of the light bar.
Hotel information is on an iPad-like tablet device next to the bed. No instructions, of course, and it was definitely not intuitive. I finally had to remove it from its dock, carry it down to the lobby, and get a lesson from the very patient desk clerk, who figured out that the “back” button was those three tiny red dots on the top left hand side of each of the open windows on the screen.
And don’t get me going on the television. No matter what buttons I pushed on the remote, I could never get anything other than a commercial on endless repeating loop promoting Conrad properties around the world. Fortunately there was free WiFi, so I finally pulled out my laptop and got some work done.
Alas! I was at the Conrad Indianapolis for just one night, and I had no time to explore the hotel. It features a branded spa, 24-hour fitness center, indoor lap pool, wet and dry saunas, and steam rooms.
Here’s one of the sculptures in the bedroom in metal and wood by Mary Pat Wallen.
You can make reservations on the hotel’s website or via one of the usual hotel booking sites like Hotels.com or Priceline. Rooms start about $200 per night, but the Modern Suite is listed about $700 per night.
(Photos by Susan McKee, who was a guest of the Conrad Indianapolis)