Brian and I were going to a memorial 5K in New York sometime in the Spring of 2009. I asked for recommendations for someplace to stay in Albany so we could get there the night before and save ourselves some trouble in the drive up (in the wee small hours of the morning). I was told to call Hotel Indigo - mostly because the person giving the recommendation knew someone who worked there.
I don't remember if I ever interacted with that person, or even if they still worked there, but I know I didn't get any special deals because I knew someone who knew someone. Nevertheless, I have never stumbled upon a better gem than this word-of-mouth referral.
First and foremost, all Hotel Indigos (run by the same people as Holiday Inn) are pet-friendly. The pet deposit is a fraction of what I've seen anywhere else. While a service dog (in our case, the dashing Dango) can legally stay anywhere Brian can, having a pet-friendly hotel means you don't catch any flak for it. Furthermore, a pet-friendly hotel actually has someplace to walk your dog outside. Some of the no-pets-allowed places I've stayed at have been encased in concrete; walking your dog blocks away to find some grass in unfamiliar territory at night isn't high on my list of favorite things to do.
Because of the pet policy, we decided to bring the actual pet with us on this trip to accompany Dango on our 5K - Bodhran the Berserker, Dog Number Two. Since one of our dogs was a service animal, the fabulous lady at the desk waived the nominal pet fee (which I believe was a paltry $20, compred to the $75+ I have seen elesewhere). Also, no raised eyebrows when we came in and out with either dog - both of whom had backpacks on, so Dango's 'Working Dog' vest wasn't visible. Not having to stop and defend your right to have your service dog with you was such a blessing I would have attached myself to this chain right then and there.
The reason I am enamored of Hotel Indigo, however, is not the very inclusive pet policy.
Hotel Indigo has the most accessible rooms I have ever seen in my life.
First - and this is a HUGE peeve of mine - their wheelchair rooms are actually on the first floor. If there's a fire emergency, do you want somebody in a wheelchair on the sixth floor? That's guaranteeing a fire fighter will have to risk life & limb to rescue someone from your hotel. More realistically, you could put the accessible rooms on the first floor, and someone in a wheelchair can get themselves out of the burning building. What a concept! I have yet to be above the first floor in any Hotel Indigo - even though I've stayed in multiple locations multiple times since.
The rooms themselves are spacious. There was more than three feet of space around every obstacle without me having to rearrange - not even a little. The pulls on the window shades were at chair-height. The chair at the desk was on wheels, so it could easily be moved out of the way (to park a wheelchair there instead). The bed was far enough from the wall for Brian to park his chair there at night, which means I didn't kill myself tripping over it in the morning. All the hundreds of little things we've done in our own home that we don't ever think about were already done here. It was like the room was actually designed by someone in a wheelchair. Staying there was effortless.
And the bathroom! There was a teak bench in the walk/roll-in shower. No tub! Glorious! The shower head was a handle unit, and it was set low enough to be used from the bench! These things should not astonish me, but they are actually so rare as to be noteworthy. Brian could use all the facilities without my assistance. I did nothing! He could shower without me, walk the dog without me, operate the television and in-room internet without me, even with his legs off. There were no exterior doors he could not use; every last one I saw was ramped or otherwise accessible. (This is also nice, as regardless of where Brian might be in the hotel, i.e. getting ice or enjoying the pool or using the fitness center, he would actually be able to use 'the nearest exit' in case of emergency.) I didn't even need to scout for a grassy patch for Dango, as they were everywhere. Brian could have stayed there without me and not had a single issue. This is the only time I have ever been able to say that about a hotel.
When I booked my second stay in a Hotel Indigo - this one just outside Indianapolis - I did so with glee. I was excited to find out if the first stay had been a fluke. I was thrilled when I discovered it was not. There was even a live-in dog, Fibi (short for Fibonacci, which made my inner geek do a little jig) who yapped whenever visitors arrived and was very interested in everywhere I had ever been in those shoes.
The website will show you how beautiful the buildings are. There is actual color in use, both in the lobbies and rooms and outside on the walls. There have been floral murals in bright colors in every room we've stayed in, which is nearly opposite the hospital-esque rooms you generally see. After a year and a half in a hospital, if I never sleep in an all-white room again it will be too soon.
Oh, and they're resonably priced! I can't believe I almost forgot that. I'm used to paying a lot more to stay at a decent hotel. For what you're getting, these hotels are always a real bargain.
I'm trying hard to think of something to say about Hotel Indigo that isn't glowing. They're only the second 'frequent guest' type program I've joined (the first being Midwest Airlines) and they're the first company that has ncited a feeling of true brand loyalty in me. I guess my only true complaint is there simply aren't enough of them. I find myself on their website, looking for their locations and using that as a means to pick new places to go for vacation. I always half-heartedly wanted to visit San Antonio or San Diego, but once I saw then pop up as location on http://www.hotelindigo.com/ they were bumped much higher on the list of potential getaways. My husband and I are planning a road trip to Texas later this Spring, and I'm intentionally planning the route around cities that have a Hotel Indigo in them. Knowing I have somplace stress-free and relatively inexpensive to stay takes 95% of the anxiety out of travelling with a disability.
If anyone from Hotel Indigo stumbles across this, please open some up in Kansas City and Washington, D.C.; it was make my travels infinitely easier.