Deep in the Heart of Texas: Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University
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To The Point
Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University is the perfect location for sightseeing, bars and live music in downtown Austin. Pros: central location, a pool with a view and comfortable rooms. Cons: noisy adjoining rooms, finicky elevator and expensive valet parking.
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Regardless of your reason for visiting Austin, Texas, you’ll likely want to spend some time downtown. After living in Austin for eight years, my husband JT and I returned for our first visit since leaving in June 2017. For this visit we decided to stay at the Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University in the Red River nightlife district. Across from iconic Stubb’s BBQ, this Hotel Indigo is well-placed for sightseeing, live music, SXSW, conferences and visits to the state capital or the University of Texas at Austin.
When the spring IHG PointBreaks list went live, I was thrilled to find this property available for 15,000 IHG points per night. Unfortunately, the PointBreaks nights sold out quickly here, so if you want to stay here in the future on points you’ll need to pay the normal 40,000 IHG points per night, which TPG’s values at $240. Cash rates start from around $150 per night, although many nights I checked were much more expensive than that.
Since I had the new IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, I saved 15,000 IHG points on my five-night stay, thanks to the card’s fourth-night-free benefit. So, our entire stay cost 60,000 IHG points, worth about $360 according to TPG’s latest valuations.
The Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University is in the eastern section of downtown Austin, flanked by the legendary Stubb’s BBQ to the east and popular Red River bars to the north and south.
The hotel is in a great location for those looking to enjoy Austin’s nightlife, with Sixth Street a few blocks south, Rainey Street bars a 15-minute walk to the south and bars and restaurants on East Sixth and Seventh streets a 15-minute walk to the southeast. The Austin Convention Center is about a 12-minute walk to the south, and the edge of the University of Texas at Austin campus is just a 20-minute walk to the northwest. For those wanting to visit the grounds of the state capitol, it’s under a 10-minute walk to the northwest.
Be aware that there is a homeless shelter near the hotel, which may make some guests uncomfortable, but we never felt unsafe.
I was hoping to check-in early, so I called the hotel at 11:00am to inquire. I was told our room wasn’t ready but that they’d call when it was ready. They called at 2:45pm, just 15 minutes before the listed check-in time.
We arrived in a rental car but planned to return it shortly after check-in. Although we could’ve parked at metered street parking, the valet let us leave the car with them temporarily while checking in.
Check-in went quickly, but I was surprised that the agent didn’t welcome me as an IHG Platinum elite. Further, she didn’t mention that I’d received an upgrade from the standard room I’d booked with points. Thankfully, my IHG app had already shared the good news.
I was surprised to receive a substantial upgrade to a King District View Studio Suite. Although I often get upgraded while traveling internationally (thanks to my IHG Platinum elite status, which I have as a benefit of the IHG Rewards Premier Card card), it’s much more rare for me to be upgraded when traveling domestically.
The Indigo is in the same building as the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Austin Downtown-University. Because of this design, the lowest Indigo rooms are on the sixth floor, directly above the highest Holiday Inn Express rooms. Our suite was on this sixth floor, which still provided nice views across north and west Austin.
The suite had a large king bed with two nightstands, which featured storage as well as individual lights. The bed was plush and comfortable.
Across from the bed was a large wooden desk with a rolling chair. There were plenty of power outlets, wired internet and a light on the desk. Next to the desk was a dresser with four larger drawers and a nook that held an ice bucket and glasses.
There was a Keurig coffee machine with coffee and tea pods and a large flat-screen TV on top of the dresser.
The sitting area had an L-shaped sectional and a coffee table. The coffee table had a loose glass top that slid easily. The couch, which had two decorative pillows that provided good back support, was comfortable to sit and lie down on.
Between the sitting area and the bathroom was a large closet with plenty of hangers and storage space.
Across from the closet was a bench and a long mirror with three hooks on either side of the mirror. These hooks were too awkwardly placed to hold more than a couple items, though.
The bathroom was relatively large, with enough counterspace but no shelves.
Under the sink was a cute basket holding towels.
The shower was plenty spacious for me, but probably wouldn’t have been tall enough for TPG.
Aveda shampoo, conditioner, bar soaps and lotion were provided along with a makeup-remover towelette. There were plenty of hooks to hang and reuse bath towels, but there was no place to hang a hand towel by the sink.
As a former Austin resident, I appreciated the artwork above the toilet. Most guests would think it’s just a collection of lines and colors, but it was really a cleverly designed map of the city.
My biggest complaint about the suite: the connecting door to an adjacent room. Two different groups stayed in the adjoining room during our stay, and for both groups we heard every sniffle, sneeze and conversation clearly. The door was so poor at muffling the sound that that it sounded like the other guests were in our room.
Food and Beverage
The lobby restaurant and bar doubled as a coffee shop during the day, with most coffee drinks ranging from $2 to $5. There were drink and snack specials during weekday happy hour, as well as rotating drink discounts in the evenings.
The room-service menu was surprisingly reasonable. Breakfast options ranged from $3 for a pastry to $12 for a three-egg omelet. Lunch and dinner ranged from $8 for a salad to $32 for a ribeye steak. It also featured Austin favorites, like chicken and waffles for $13.
There were many excellent options within walking distance of the hotel. I’d recommend barbecue at Stubb’s on Red River Street and drinks at Easy Tiger on Sixth Street.
The Hotel Indigo and Holiday Inn Express shared a rooftop pool and bar with views of downtown Austin. The pool wasn’t on the highest level, though — it sat only a few stories above street level. The pool itself was nothing special, but the views and cabanas made it perfect for a hot Austin afternoon.
The pool was open daily from 7:00am to 10:00pm. During our stay, however, the pool bar was only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
On the same floor as the pool was a small but well-equipped gym, with treadmills, ellipticals, free weights, weight-training machines, exercise balls and more.
A small seating area with two computers and a printer were in the lobby.
Wi-Fi was complimentary for all guests, and each room also had complimentary wired internet. Both seemed to be throttled, though. Connecting was quick and painless, since this hotel used the IHGConnect framework.
There were two elevators. Although we never needed to wait long for an elevator, getting the elevator to read the room key and allow access to our floor often took a while. Every guest we shared an elevator with seemed equally frustrated.
Valet parking was the only option, which cost $35 per day plus tax. However, there was a parking lot just a block away at East 8th Street and Neches that advertised $6-per-day parking on weekdays.
The Hotel Indigo Austin Downtown-University is perfectly located for many types of visitors, especially those in town for a downtown conference, sightseeing, SXSW or a concert at Stubb’s BBQ. The staff generally didn’t engage with guests but were friendly when I asked for anything. My room was comfortable, and despite being on the bottom floor overlooking multiple bars and concert venues, I only heard and felt the bass from these venues on two nights — and wasn’t kept awake either night.
The thin door between the room and the adjoining room was more of a noise concern than the nearby concert venues. At a hotel of Hotel Indigo’s caliber and price range, being able to clearly comprehend neighbors’ conversations isn’t acceptable. Besides the noise from the adjoining room, the only other notable annoyance was having to tap my room card repeatedly in the elevator every time I went up to my room.
Despite these faults, I’d stay again, but I’d ask for a space without an adjoining room. The location is excellent and the pool is perfect for relaxing with a view. The hotel can sometimes be found for around $150 per night, which is pretty good considering its location. And if it appears on another IHG PointBreaks list, I’ll certainly return and stay a while.
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