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Hotel Indigo - A Review of the Hip, Gay-Friendly Indigo Hotel Brand

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Hotel Indigo - A Review of the Hip, Gay-Friendly Indigo Hotel Brand

The Hotel Indigo in Nashville's West End is just a couple of blocks from the city's best gay nightlife

photo by Andrew Collins

How Gay-Friendly is the Hotel Indigo brand?:

The Hotel Indigo brand is a relatively new part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, which includes a number of mid-range and high-end brands (Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, InterContinental). The sleek and hip Indigo brand is really the chain's first one that has caught the attention of the gay market, and IC Hotels has actively courted the gay market with several of its Indigo properties.

IC Hotels appears quite gay-friendly to its guests, and according to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's workplace profile of InterContinental, the company has a solid track record with its treatment of GLBT employees.

Hotel Indigo brand (IC Hotels) Gay-Friendliness Ranking with HRC:

According to HRC's 2011 Buying for Equality guide, IC Hotels scores an excellent 85 on the Corporate Equality Index. The score on based on the company having implemented non-discrimination policies, sexual orientation training, domestic partner health insurance, and company-supported LGBT employee resource groups, among other initiatives. The Indigo brand is the first in the IC group that seems to be actively courting this market (with local ads and sponsorships of some gay events), and this has been an encouraging move.

Noteworthy Hotel Indigo Properties:

IC Hotels, Indigo's parent company, is based in Atlanta, where you'll find one of the brand's most gay-popular properties, the Indigo Atlanta Midtown, which is steps from Atlanta gay nightlife. Other Indigos in areas that make good bases for exploring local gay scenes include Nashville in the hip West End; Asheville, NC, Athens, GA, downtown Columbus, downtown Baltimore, downtown Dallas, Houston's Galleria area, Indianapolis uptown, Miami Beach, New Orleans French Quarter, New York City's Chelsea neighborhood, San Antonio Riverwalk, San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter, downtown St. Petersburg, and Scottsdale.

Future Indigo properties of note:

Indigo is a fast-growing brand, and with more than 50 properties in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom, as well a properties in Costa Rica and China - many others are planned.

Indigo Hotels at a Glance:

The InterContinental hotel chain has never figured too heavily in the gay market, it being the domain of such traditional, business- and family-driven standbys as the luxury InterContinental brand, the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza family, and such extended-stay brands as Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites. There's nothing inherently lacking in IC Hotels as a gay lodging option, but the chain has never much stood out for its hip or arty vibe, nor for having been especially involved in sponsoring gay events. This has changed a bit with the company's Hotel Indigo brand, which launched in 2006. These whimsically decorated, handsomely designed, and reasonably priced hotels offer a scaled-down and more economical take on what Starwood has does with W Hotels (it's especially comparable to Starwood's mid-priced Aloft brand), and also on the uber-gay-friendly Kimpton Hotels brand.

Indigo definitely doesn't have quite the panache of these other sleek, hipster-driven competitors, but it runs in this direction, with its fun design schemes (the Atlanta Indigo is done in a playful New England seashore-inspired palette of blues and whites, for instance) and thoughtful, user-friendly amenities. Many of the hotels are creative conversions of office buildings or former cookie-cutter hotels, and others are brand-new constructions. The lobbies are spacious and airy, with mod furnishings and casual cafes - the kinds of places you might want to hang out in with your laptop, or to mingle with friends or colleagues.

Other aesthetically pleasing elements include generous use of hardwood floors in both rooms and common areas, large walk-in showers, colors and designs (including cool photo-murals in rooms) that channel the outdoors, well-equipped gyms, stylish desks and work chairs, and free Wi-Fi or broadband in rooms and common areas.

IC Hotels is opening many of its Indigo properties in the close-in suburbs (of the "edge city" variety), which will likely draw a chiefly corporate clientele, but they've opened many others in enticing urban neighborhoods, and this seems to be the trend for upcoming properties. Indigo is still a relatively new brand, and one that gay travelers are just starting to notice, but it's worth keeping an eye out for future property openings as you plan your travels, especially given the quite fair rates (especially on weekends, as many Hotel Indigos cater strongly to business travelers during the week.

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