Indianapolis Convention Center Hotels - no room at the inn
October 13, 2015 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Trying to find a hotel within walking distance of the Indiana Convention Center in the last week of the month and they are ALL booked. I know I've left it late, but what are my options? Getting a bit frantic about it.

I have a love/hate relationship with travel. I get very anxious trying to organize it, but usually do okay once I'm travelling. I do dislike driving in cities though. I'm trying to get to EDUCAUSE at the end of October (27-30), but there's no room at any inn within walking distance of the convention center.

I originally planned on flying and walking, but I could drive (about 7 hours from home). Can I stay outside of the city center and not lose my mind driving in and parking?

I'm getting very anxious about this because I've had to bug a lot of people at work and elsewhere to get to even go and now I'm not sure I can even get it done.
posted by idb to Travel & Transportation around Indianapolis, IN (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Does it have to be walking distance? Many hotels will have shuttle service to the convention center.
posted by rhizome at 12:55 PM on October 13, 2015 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Not if there's a shuttle service. That would work.
posted by idb at 1:05 PM on October 13, 2015

Can you maybe see if there are hotels at the airport that still have space and then take this GO Green Shuttle from the airport to the convention center every day? It looks like it leaves from the airport twice every hour and arrives to the convention center 20 minutes later.

In general, driving in downtown Indianapolis isn't very scary. It's not a big city like some other big cities, but it might be busier than usual with all the events. Parking is also not very easy to find.

Have you also checked Airbnb?
posted by Lingasol at 1:29 PM on October 13, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you for that suggestion. The GO Green Shuttle looks good. I hadn't even thought about hotel or airport shuttles, and yes, there's availability near the airport. That would take care of both my travel requirements. With luck, the hotel might even have a downtown shuttle, but if not, I can take one from the airport. I'll just have to plan my days a bit more to avoid any need to return to my room.

I think that will probably work, as long as I don't overthink it!

I didn't see anything on Airbnb near the convention center that wasn't pricey.
posted by idb at 2:29 PM on October 13, 2015

There's also a $5 Taxi Zone downtown.
posted by rhizome at 4:12 PM on October 13, 2015

Best answer: Having lived in LA for two years, please believe me when I say OH MY GOD DO I MISS HOW EASY IT WAS TO GET AROUND INDIANAPOLIS.

I recommend staying closer to the airport than on the North or Southside. You're going to have a straight shot into town on 70 and a fraction of the traffic lights you'd have if you stay near Castleton or towards Beech Grove/Greenwood area. There are also some nice places around 465 and 71st Street near Intech Park. There's a semi-direct route to downtown from there, but staying near the airport is your best bet. Near - not at. A new airport opened several years ago, so there's a bit of separation between the airport proper and lodging.

I cannot articulate how much I miss the lack of traffic in Indy. Cars are always moving - even in high rush hour. If you're outside downtown it's a car city, but an easy one to get around. Indy isn't really known for its shuttle service. If a hotel does offer it, it would be to and from the airport, not to locations downtown. There used to be a shuttle from downtown to the airport, but I believe they discontinued it before I moved away.

Oh, one more thing about hotels. Let me talk about Candlewood and Sleep Inn, cause you'll probably notice they still have rooms available during the conference window. They are in a weird part of town. It's not quite the IUPUI campus and not quite the zoo. It's on its way up from shady, but in my sixteen years living in Indy I never recommended staying there to anyone. I will not start now.

Parking is very doable. Indy handles GenCon, Colts and Pacers games, DCI and FFA buses and boatloads of conventions each year. Just use common sense, like don't arrive 15 minutes before you need to be in a conference room expecting to get a parking spot. I used to pay something like $3 to park at South and Meridian, across from the Slippery Noodle. It's non-stacked lot parking just blocks from the convention center, but used primarily by corporate folks who don't want to pay to park in their expensive garages.

I hope it works out for you - good luck!
posted by ovenmitt at 10:33 PM on October 13, 2015

If you know anyone who travels a lot, then ask if you can use their guaranteed availability privileges. When you're in the top loyalty tier, most hotel chains guarantee that they will always have a room for you (some require 24 or 48 hours notice). You usually pay the full rack rate, but you can negotiate.

They would need to book the room, then wait a few days to transfer it to you.
posted by 26.2 at 11:33 PM on October 13, 2015

Have to tried the La Quinta on Washington Street east of downtown? It isn't usually grouped with the major convention hotels as it's just on the east edge of downtown proper. I've had friends stay there for GenCon (though it usually winds up getting booked for that).
posted by Gelatin at 6:02 AM on October 14, 2015

This summer we ended up staying at the Hilton Garden Inn Northwest for GenCon on very short notice after our original plans fell through, and it was lovely and quiet while still being a very easy 20-minute drive from downtown. I'm from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas, and Indianapolis traffic and parking is SO, SO easy in comparison to both of those cities. I also hate city driving and I find Indy much less stressful than most other similar-size cities I've ever had to drive in.
posted by augustimagination at 8:44 AM on October 14, 2015

Response by poster: Although I've marked ovenmitt's answer, I would really like to mark everyone as best answer, since you've all been so helpful and reassuring. I really appreciate it.
posted by idb at 9:06 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd fly and rent a car. Then you can come and go as you please, and go out for dinner etc., without feeling tied to a shuttle schedule. Or just take the shuttle when it works, and pay for a cab when it doesn't. It's totally not a big metropolis and you'll be fine driving in the city.

Also - check the conference hotels the day the event starts, or the day before. Lots of folks end up canceling or the hotel realizes they have a small block they can release on the day-of.
posted by barnone at 11:32 AM on October 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So, I ended up following ovenmitt's advice mostly. I got a hotel by the (old) airport which had a free shuttle running every half-hour 24x7 from the new airport--quick tip: "Zone 2" is at Ground Transportation NOT the Baggage claim door. Rather than shuttles and buses from there, the first day I took a taxi to downtown (about $23) and an Uber back ($13). After that I pretty much stuck with Uber (my first experience with it). Downtown I never had to wait more than 60 seconds or so, and even at the hotel, the longest was about 10 minutes. The drive to and from downtown was quick and smooth (10-15 minutes) every time, and even with the fare, considering the cheaper hotel, I saved my work money.

It felt like a small city and all my drivers were very positive about the place. The convention center was pretty compact and was very well run. The only thing I had to think about was only taking things with me that I really needed so I wasn't carting around a heavy bag to receptions, etc.

I did check hotels the day of and day before and a couple of rooms opened $400+ a night! Everyone I talked to remarked on how the convention had packed things out and kept people busy. In terms of checking hotels and looking for rooms, the convention center hotels page is terrible (except I suppose for distances). Rather than checking the individual hotels, you can check:

IHG (Holiday Inn, Staybridge, Crowne Plaza, Candlewood)
Starwood (Westin, Sheraton)
Marriott (Marriott, Residence Inn, Fairfield, Courtyard, Springhill)
Hilton (Hilton, Homewood, Conrad, Hampton, Embassy Suites)

And that will cover most of them (aside from Comfort Inn, the La Quinta, Hyatt, Omni, Alexander and Columbia--couldn't even find info on Park Place).
posted by idb at 9:29 AM on October 31, 2015

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