After traveling on a budget throughout the world, one begins to expect plenty of low-cost sleeping options. Whether it’s a $10 hammock on a hot, loud Nicaraguan beach or a $15 bed in a cramped, 10-bed dorm room in an Eastern European city, hostels are there and (usually) (relatively) enjoyable.
I’m sorry to say, foreigners, that in America this is not usually the case.
Chintzy, sepia-toned motels are slowly fading from the landscape, making it nearly impossible to score a $50 room stuck in the 1960s on the side of the highway. Instead, too often budget travelers are tasked with finding the best of the worst options in a sea of $80-150 hotel rooms.
The exceptions to this rule, of course, are the major cities. New York, Washington, Chicago… all offer a variety of hostel options that may or may not be like what experienced travelers are used to. These American counterparts tend to be a pale imitation of the raucous, community-based affair of Europe and beyond.
That being said, I was pleasantly surprised (and a bit wary) when I found out that a hostel existed in Indianapolis. Indy Hostel, I’m happy to say, met and exceeded all of our expectations.
One of the best examples is the rooms: each room is dedicated to an exceptional bit of Indianapolis – David Letterman, Kurt Vonnegut, the Indy Speedway, to name a few. From the four-bed private to the double private to the six- and 12-bed shared dorms, personal touches were everywhere. (We had a chance to stay in the Monon Room, named for the trail located just a block away from the hostel which runs north to south through the city for 18 miles.)
Rooms/beds run from $18-70 dollars per night which includes free linens and towels, WIFI, coffee and tea, and access to all the common areas and a really nice kitchen.
The common areas carried the same theme as each is decorated with paintings from local artists. The vibrant colors and relaxed atmosphere (not to mention the quiet, respectful travelers) made Indy Hostel the first hostel where I really felt comfortable spending a lot of time in the common area.
Beyond all that, though, is something even better: the hostel’s clear love of all things local (which of course, I love!). Menus for local restaurants hang proudly on the communal fridge. Staff wax poetic about all the great hang-outs in the area. Plus, the hostel’s expansive backyard isn’t just a place for late-night bonfires but also the site of plenty of music festivals featuring local bands and restaurants.
After too many sleepless nights in awful hostels, I felt at home. Indy Hostel isn’t just a noisy traveler hostel plunked down in the middle of a neighborhood – it makes a real effort to truly integrate the hostel and its patrons into the very fabric of Indy.
And speaking of, the one aspect I thought would be a downer – the location – actually turned out to be great. Although the hostel is about a 20-minute bus ride from downtown, it’s actually located in one of Indy’s coolest neighborhoods, Broad Ripple. Chock full of independent eateries, Broad Ripple is full of cool, Indy-specific places with price tags to placate even the most budget-conscious travelers. Grabbing a bus downtown may be inconvenient, but the location is cool in its own right.
All-in-all, the Russky and I agreed that we’d definitely return to the Indy Hostel. Or at least recommend it to all the friends visiting us when we make the big move in just a few weeks.
What Polly loved:
- All the touches of local flavor;
- The outdoor spaces;
- Quiet, respectful hostel-goers;
- The ultra-friendly, helpful (albeit rookie!) staff.
What the Russky loved:
- Clean, cheerful rooms;
- Comfortable atmosphere and chill common areas;
- Non-hostel style mattresses.
What we didn’t love:
- The spotty WIFI (which seems to be rampant in the Midwest).
Indy Hostel is located about 20-minutes north of the center by bus just south of Broad Ripple. (4903 Winthrop Avenue Indianapolis, Indiana, IN 46205; (317) 727-1696) I was offered a stay in this hostel for two nights in compensation for this review. All opinions are my own and I absolutely encourage travelers to stay at Indy Hostel!