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Hotel Indigo Madison Downtown: Review

Hotel Indigo

Address: 901 East Washington, Madison, Wisconsin

Points/miles used: IHG

What I Loved: The design, friendly staff, free upgrade

What I Didn’t Love: Construction and having to drive through Capitol Square to get to campus

I recently had to travel to my home state of Wisconsin for a family funeral. While I was there, I took the opportunity to do something happier: My parents and I drove to Madison to take Nutmeg out for a 19th birthday dinner. Since we all hate to drive after dark (isn’t it weird getting old with your parents?), we decided to stay overnight.

My mom had some IHG points to burn, so she chose Hotel Indigo Madison Downtown, near Capitol Square. Here’s what we thought about this hotel:

We had a small challenge getting to the hotel, because it’s in the middle of a construction site. Our GPS told us to turn left off of busy East Washington Ave. to get there, but that left turn would have run smack into the building site, so it was blocked. We went a block farther and swung past The Sylvee — which I recognized because my kid had mentioned going to a show there — to double back and get into the lot.

At check in, we were charmed by the design. The restaurant, Palette, is set off by a wall of clear paint cans with a splash of color in each. The front desk is a glass-front case with genuine old paint cans, brushes and other vintage artifacts. The wall behind the desk — and the ceiling above — is adorned with a huge cut-out of a paint can, labeled MAUTZ PAINT. Everything looked so new that I was surprised when I looked it up later to learn that the place has been open for more than three years already.

“Let me guess, this used to be a paint factory?”

“You got it!” the friendly desk clerk told me. The place was not busy, so he had plenty of time to chat. He informed us that we had been upgraded to a suite — fab! When we asked about parking, he told us about the $16 garage, but also offered to direct us to free parking on the street right outside the parking lot. I thought that was really considerate, even though we decided to pay for the garage.

The lobby also had some interesting-looking wooden games set up on tables, although I didn’t see anyone playing them. I don’t actually think the hotel was very full.

There was also a cozy area off the lobby with some private high-sided booths, decorated with paint rollers turned into art. Really nice!

We had hoped a suite would be two separate rooms, but it was one long room, with the two queen beds, desk and bureau with a large TV on one end, and a comfy couch on the other. Still, it was nice! It was a corner room, so we had windows on two sides. Like the lobby, everything seemed new and fresh.

The room design was as adorable as the lobby, with a vintage-style minifridge in the walnut-look TV console. And — of course — one of the wall photos depicted paint cans.

The view from the window: Breese Stevens Field, which is apparently the home of Forward Madison FC, a pro soccer team, as well as a couple of the local high schools’ sports teams. We watched some soccer practice while we were there, but I’m not sure who was practicing. If you’re a big soccer fan, this would probably be a great place to stay! Even for us, it was entertaining.

They also have concerts there; if you’re a fan of Weezer and Modest Mouse, book this hotel now for their June 14 show! You would probably see and hear the band better from your room than from the field.

We moved our car in and out of the parking garage several times that night, since I picked up my daughter, then we drove to dinner, then brought her back to the room with us, then later I brought her back to her dorm. Funny thing: After you use your room key to enter the garage the first time, the system records your license plate, and then next time you go in or out, the gate just opens for you, and the screen reads “Welcome Kirby,” or whatever your name happens to be.

There was a cozy-looking fire pit area right outside the front door, which we would have liked to use, but the late-April night of our visit was just a little too cold. Yeah, Wisconsin.

I would definitely stay in the Hotel Indigo again for a Madison visit, although it wouldn’t be my top choice. The reason for that is simply that I’d always choose a place walking distance from campus, if I could. It was just a little annoying to have to drive through Capitol Square to get to campus and back. Still, it was a little closer to campus than the place we stayed last time, the Sheraton on John Nolan Drive (although that place had the advantage of having a pool). And the staff was so nice!

P.S.: When I shared this review with other parents of UW-Madison students, some pointed out that Hotel Indigo has a free shuttle that can save you having to find parking on campus. This is true! They’ll drive you anywhere within three miles, from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. We didn’t use this, since we were also picking up some end-of-year move-out stuff from our kid’s dorm when we picked her up, but it’s a great option, especially if you don’t feel like dealing with the tangled spiral of one-way streets surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol.

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[…] to channel. Also, the TV was tiny for a hotel. This was a real contrast from our recent stay at Hotel Indigo in Madison, Wis., which had a huge, modern TV with an interface that made it easy to stream from my iPhone. I would […]