Hipster Heaven: A Review of the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side in New York
Choosing a New York City hotel is always the bane of my existence. Normally, I strive to be as far as possible from Times Square, stay somewhere hip and get a cheap rate, but it doesn't always work out that way.
But during a recent trip, all the stars were aligned, and I was able to stay in the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York, which was not only in my favorite New York neighborhood, the Lower East Side, but also in my budget and worlds away from touristy Times Square.
Since my stay would be for five nights, I decided to use my Citi Prestige for the 4th Night Free benefit. I ended up spending $1,064 (and earning 3,192 ThankYou points thanks to the card's bonus category that awards 3x points for hotel stays) after the credit, meaning my cost for a king deluxe room came out to about $213 per night, a great rate for Manhattan, where hotels usually cost upwards of $300 per night. I preferred to pay cash in this case because using points wasn't the best value — my dates were going for 50,000 IHG points per night.
The hotel was on Ludlow Street just off the major thoroughfare of Houston Street and on the northern border of the Lower East Side, just south of the East Village. It was surrounded by endless options for restaurants and bars and conveniently located near subway lines to easily access other parts of the city. (The closest lines being the F, M, J and Z at Essex Street and the F at 2nd Avenue.) I was a little worried it would be loud because this particular neighborhood is known for boisterous nightlife, but I was on the 11th floor and couldn't hear much noise beyond the sirens and taxis honking, which are oh-so-common in NYC.
In the afternoon on a weekday and with decent luck with traffic, a cab from the hotel to JFK airport would have taken about 45 minutes. To LaGuardia, it would have been about half an hour. To Times Square, depending on traffic, it'd be about a 30-minute taxi ride. To the World Trade Center, it'd be about a 15-minute ride (40 minutes by foot). Depending on the time of day, the subway would get you to either site in about 15-20 minutes.
The ground-floor entrance of the Hotel Indigo was nondescript — it looked like it could have been in any other building in Manhattan.
I spotted fun pop-art sculptures before heading up to the 14th floor, which the friendly doorman explained was the lobby and check-in level of the hotel.
After stepping out into the wide-open, loft-style space on the 14th floor, I went to the two small check-in desks. The staff couldn't find my reservation without the confirmation number — my name wasn't enough. Once I provided the number, though, they checked me in.
Meanwhile, I looked around, appreciating the high ceilings, vintage-chic furniture, exposed-brick walls and city views. I was definitely downtown.
The hallways were vibrant and fun, covered with creative artwork and funky graffiti. I entered my room on the 11th floor and immediately fell in love. The vintage-yet-modern decor was warm and inviting, and my eyes were drawn to the cool, exposed light bulbs on either side of the bed.
The floor-to-ceiling window had a nice view, and light streamed in each morning — and there were blackout shades to keep the room dark for when I felt like sleeping in. A small sofa let me admire the view out the window. The floors were wood, but there was a funky, decorative rug underneath the sofa.
The room also came with a desk and chair, a bedside table and a flat-screen TV.
The closet was large, with both shelf space and an area to hang clothing. It had a safe, ironing board and iron. The room's minibar had the usual contents. My favorite thing about the room was the Keurig coffeemaker, and the capsules were replenished daily — the cleaning staff even left me a few extra when they realized I was using so many. It was freezing outside and the heat worked well; I could change the temperature to my liking from the in-room controls.
Thanks to the adjustable exposed bulbs on either side of the bed, the room was full of light even when the natural light of the day was gone.
In general, the room was practical, with plenty of outlets (both USB and regular power outlets), the coffeemaker and blackout shades, but also with fun millennial-oriented touches such as a spray-can cocktail shaker.
The bathroom was decorated in fun colors and was a nice size for New York, though the vanity was on the small side.
The busy floor tile brightened up the room, and the CO Bigelow amenities were a nice upscale touch.
The shower was large and had a window — it's rare to see windows in bathrooms in NYC, so I was pleasantly surprised to see one.
The shower pressure was strong and the water hot — what more can you ask for? The bathroom also featured several mirrors, one of which was full-length — necessary for a night out in downtown Manhattan.
Food and Beverage
The lobby had a small breakfast area designed to look more like a coffee shop, with both hot foods and a self-service area for snacks, juices and more.
I ordered an egg wrap there one day — it was fine but overpriced at $15. A better option would have been to walk across the street to Ludlow Coffee Supply for avocado toast and coffee, or any of the countless shops or eateries nearby.
Mr. Purple is the property's trendy rooftop bar. It features both a small pool and views of Lower Manhattan.
The indoor part was still fun in January, with chic decor and a trendy Friday-night crowd. I especially enjoyed the Cabin in the Woods cocktail, made from gin and berries.
It was dark in there at night, but here's what the inside looks like during the day:
I found the housekeeping staff to be thorough and friendly. The doormen on the ground floor were also consistently polite and helpful throughout my stay.
Other staff members were less impressive. I forgot my phone charger at the TPG HQ one day, and when I called down to see if they had one I could borrow or purchase, they weren't helpful at all. I asked if it would be possible to check lost and found — perhaps someone had left a charger at the hotel I might be able to use for an hour — but they refused to even look. Instead, I was directed, at midnight, to "find a CVS." Thanks.
Despite the minor issue with the unhelpful staff, I loved this hotel. I would absolutely stay here again, though I think the key is to get a room on a higher floor — especially on weekends — to avoid the noise from the street and evening partygoers. The hotel is perfect for those wanting to eat, drink and have a more local New York City experience. If it's simply tourist attractions you're after, though, you may want to look elsewhere.