Stylish Lockdown Staycation: The Hotel Indigo LES, NYC

It’s been a really tough year. And with the world still on lockdown, we can’t you tell how much we’ve come to pine for all the things we used to hate about travel. Right now, we’d practically kill to be sitting next to a screaming baby on a transatlantic flight. (Okay, maybe too far?)

But if you’re looking for all the wonderful frills of getting away from at all, without actually having to hop on a plane (and endure that crying baby), it’s a good time to consider that “cool hotel” staycation. And to that end we recently checked into the Hotel Indigo LES, after a year spent sitting in a tiny Manhattan apartment. As it turned out, a weekend at the buzzy boutique sleep on a busy stretch of Ludlow Street was just the sort of thing for a desperately needed pandemic restoration.

Having resided on the Lower East Side for over a decade, we’ve often wandered by the Indigo. But we seriously had no idea what was waiting for us behind those glass doors. First of all, the property is huge, with 293 rooms somehow tucked behind its fairly unassuming assuming brick facade. And those rooms themselves are actually quite fabulous, with floor to ceiling windows to soak in that classic NYC view of the Williamsburg Bridge and the historic Lower East Side architecture.

Beds are topped with Downlite White Duck Down duvets, for that “you’ll never want to get out of bed” feeling (these days we kind of don’t). And nodding to the LES’ boho history, each is adorned with artwork by well-chosen street artists and pop artists. They even have martini shakers shaped like spray paint cans above the minibar (nice touch, we say).

Then there’s the goodies: massive flatscreens, a nice window-facing desk for our new WFH (Work From Hotel) culture, and beautiful tiled walk-in showers, some with windows so you can take in the views while you rinse. The C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries products were so good we actually purchased some when we got home. (It’s all about the little self-care things these days.)

But the brave news coming from Ludlow St is that, defying the pandemic effects on the hotel biz, the Indigo went ahead and built a spectacular new Penthouse Suite – and it’s surely one of the finest in all of Downtown. A sprawling, minimalist duplex, it takes up the entire top two stories (the 25th and 26th, by the way), with balconies on both floors from where the views seem to stretch all the way to Miami Beach. Hardwood flooring and minimalist furnishings in black and grey give it a clean, understated lux, and keep the eyes firmly directed towards the spectacular vistas. Taking morning coffee there surely gives new meaning to the phrase “on top of the world.”

Most excitingly, the hotel’s stylish rooftop Mr. Purple bar/lounge (part of the venerable Gerber Group) has just reopened at 25% – so one can once again indulge in a pomegranate whiskey sour or one of the city’s best old fashioneds, with Manhattan’s awesome skyline as the backdrop. The music is as always as good as the drinks.

The Indigo also has a grab-and-go lobby bar, for those afternoon cappuccino pick-me-ups we love so much.

We actually made the decision to get chicken and waffles from the swanky Sweet Chick across the street, and followed it with a delectable gourmet sundae (think: buttermilk corn cake) from Van Leeuwen’s. (For some classic LES, consider a legendarily piled-high reuben from Katz’s Deli.) In the mornings, it was all about bagels from Russ & Daughters, paired with a good brew from Ludlow Coffee Supply, which is also right across the way from the hotel’s front door. 

Typical of New Yorkers, we rush around and sometimes don’t stop to see what’s right in front of us. But we’re happy that at least this crisis brought us together with the Hotel Indigo LES, where we expect to be spending considerably more time in future. Who says “travel” has to include an airplane and a faraway destination?

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