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Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

Which Indianapolis hotels are on sale?
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Dayton, Ohio
posts: 226
reviews: 34
Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

My wife and I are getting a day/night out this week as grandma is watching baby all night. Indy has made our short list of potential destinations. Hotwire has some really good rates for a few downtown hotels that according to them are 4 star. I've never used them before so am a little leary. All of the hotels I found in the area look to be reputable, but I was just curious if anyone knows if Indy has any bad hotels that I should be leary of?

I've been to Indy a few times...seen the zoo, been to the mall, ate at Alcatraz and The Ram, a few other things, can't remember. Any recommendations on what to do/see...fairly open, just looking for what people would consider musts? Also, any good mini-golf courses in the vicinity?

Also, taking out time getting there, so looking for anything to do along I-70 on the way between Dayton and Indy if anyone knows of anything. I've driven it numerous times but always been in a hurry, so never really noticed anything spectacular, but open to those ideas as well?

Thanks for any ideas, especially the hotel.

Bloomington, Indiana
Destination Expert
for Bloomington
posts: 6,106
reviews: 21
1. Re: Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

Regarding downtown hotels & Hotwire. I've stayed at many, but not all, of the downtown hotels (mostly via Hotwire or Priceline) and found all of them to be just fine - some better than others, but none of them "bad." As long as you're staying in the 4 star (or 3 star?), I don't think you have anything to worry about re: quality. That said, I usually don't recommend using Hotwire or Priceline for lower quality hotels as there is always the possibility you'll get a dump. (Well, maybe Hotwire if I felt 100% certain about what hotel I was getting, see comment #1 below.)

Here's a few additional comments about Hotwire/Priceline & downtown Indy hotels:

1) Be sure to check out biddingfortravel.com & betterbidding. These are sites that give people's results from Priceline & Hotwire. With these in hand you can often tell the exact hotel Hotwire is offering; or if not, narrow it down to a short list of possibles. With this in hand you can check out the rack rate on the rooms and find out how good a deal you're getting (or not).

2) Be aware that some downtown hotels aren't as "downtown" as others. Specifically, there are a few that are near Lucas Oil Stadium. Not that there is a major problem with that, just that there isn't much in the immediate area. And, while it's not really that far of a walk, these are on the south side of the major RR tracks running through the south side of downtown. Again, it's not really that far of a walk, but the RR tracks do create a mental (if not physical) barrier to the rest of downtown.

3) Also, there is one odd-ball hotel that I think both Hotwire & Priceline include as a "downtown" hotel. It's University Plaza (Place?) on the IUPUI campus. Not that there is a problem with the hotel, but as it is on a university campus, you won't find restaurants, shops, bars, etc. right next door. Also, while I can see why they place it in their downtown areas (otherwise you'd have to create a new area for just it), it is farther from downtown. As I remember I still considered it "walkable" to the main downtown area, but not sure I'd want to do it in all kinds of weather, all times of the day, etc. I seem to remember they run a shuttle to downtown, but don't know any of the details.

4) Don't forget the parking fees. Your Hotwire/Priceline hotel will still charge you full price for parking while you're there. Some people are outraged by downtown hotels parking fees, but the reality is that this is just part of staying at a downtown hotel in most major cities. If you check the forum, you will find general discussions regarding the alternatives to paying the hotel parking rates.

5) Remember, you can alway end up with a "wildcard." By this I mean a hotel that no one has ever gotten before (or at least that has never been reported). Not that this is a major problem, if it's a 4* hotel you should be fine. Just wanting to mention that this is always a possibility. It's happened once to me, the hotel was just fine (in fact rather nice, as it was brand new).

Will try to get on later today or tomorrow with some possible suggestions of things to do. You might just add a little more about kinds of things you like to do (you mentioned mini-golf which is good), but would you prefer: outdoor stuff, shopping (and what kind), museums, restaurants/bars, music (and what kind), or ??? That will give those making suggestions a little more to work with.

Hope this helps,

hlo

Dayton, Ohio
posts: 226
reviews: 34
2. Re: Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

Thanks for the tips, will definitely check out those bidding sites tonight.

I knew there would be parking fees, last time I stayed was around 20-25/day, is this still accurate or have they went up?

As for what types of activities...other than mini-golf, probably no other outdoor activities. My wife would probably want to shop a little, but plan on going to the mall for that. So, yes for restaurants and bars...prefer sports bars and for restaurants, don't really want fine dining but maybe something a little more upscale if that makes sense. We aren't really into the music scene much or dance clubs. Not necessarily museums or anything but looking for things that might be considered "Uniquely Indianapolis" if that makes sense.

Dayton, Ohio
posts: 226
reviews: 34
3. Re: Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

Tried to edit, ran out of time...it looks like it might be University Place, as the rest of the hotels look to be higher than would accept a rate like Hotwire had and University Place was only about 30 more regularly.

Bloomington, Indiana
Destination Expert
for Bloomington
posts: 6,106
reviews: 21
4. Re: Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

Looks like TA (and the bidding sites) have paid off again!

I'd say go ahead & check out what TA users have said about University Place; but it doesn't look like you're going to be getting a "killer deal" on it. (At least not at this time.) I would go ahead & set a Hotwire "watch" (or whatever the heck they call it) which will notify you when rates change.

Also, just as an FYI, when I do Hotwire/Priceline I generally expect to get 1/4 to 1/3 off. I have done as well as 50% off a couple of times and I thing my record was when I paid about 1/3 of the rack rate on a room (via Priceline, last minute). Also, it worth noting that I generally don't try if I'm not going to save 25-35% as at some point I'm willing to pay a little more to: be 100% certain of which hotel I'm getting, having the ability to cancel at the last minute, not having to pay in advance, etc.

You parking fees sound close, but I'm thinking $25-30 might be more the norm now.

Again, will try to post some ideas later (particularly now that I have more to work with),

hlo

Bloomington, Indiana
Destination Expert
for Bloomington
posts: 6,106
reviews: 21
5. Re: Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

Okay, got a few minutes to look beyond hotels. Here's a few (semi) random thoughts:

1) Consider checking out Mass Ave (Massachusetts Avenue) - a string of a few blocks of shopping, bars, restaurants etc. - located on the northeast corner of the downtown area. Not quite sure how to describe it other than "trendy." Local (non-chain) stores of a "funky" nature, ditto on the restaurants, bars, etc.

2) Restaurants: Of the ones one Mass Ave, I did have a brunch at Mesh on Mass Ave and liked it enough that I would go again at the drop of a hat. Also, on the list of "carnivore's delights" is Fogo de Chao" a Brazillan "steakhouse." it's not cheap, but it's not "fine-dining" (i.e. don't have to dress up). You may have heard of these places, they're in a handful of major cities (it is a chain). Not cheap, but it is an experience, beyond the meat the service is wonderful. Been a few times and would go again at the drop of a hat (especially if someone else is paying). Shapiro's a classic old-time deli located on the far south side of the downtown area. It's classic old school, been going there since my grandmother used to take my brother & I to Indy when we were little.

3) "Must see:" I was going to name a museum or two, but since you've sorta nixed that idea . . . I'll just suggest you check out the Eitlejorg (sp?) a wonderful western art museum near downtown and check to see if there is any special exhibit at the Indiana Museum (right next door) that interests you. They often have "non-traditional" museum exhibits (such as the Lord of the Rings exhibit that toured the country a few years ago).

Of course the Speedway is an only in Indy and, while it's a museum, it's certainly not "your mother's museum."

Not so much a "must see" or only in Indy, but you might check out & see if the Indians (minor league baseball team) is playing while you're in town. The stadium is nice, right downtown and it's a fun time. (Full disclosure, I much prefer minor league to major league baseball.)

That's all for now - maybe more later,

hlo

Indiana
posts: 10,693
reviews: 5
6. Re: Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

I've stayed for business in the Crown, the Hyatt, the old Courtyard downtown, the new Courtyard downtown, and the Hilton.

I've also done Priceline probably eight times (always 4 star only) for pleasure trips (usually Colts games) and, despite it usually being Colts games, I tend to get 50-75% off using the bidding websites provided...even for playoff games.

I have paid as little as $40 and no more than $75 (AFC Championship game)...and we have gotten, out of those either, the Marriott like six times and then the Hyatt and the Omni once each.

All nice hotels...and even nicer for that price.

If you are careful you can do well...but the decision to consider University Place a downtown hotel ticks me off.

My sister did Priceline for New Years Eve a couples years back based on my advice...and got University Place...and that completely defeated the purpose of wanting to stay downtown for them.

7. Re: Bad hotels? Any must-sees?

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