What’s old is new again. The building at 123 S. Illinois St. opened in 1928 as the 200-room Lockerbie Hotel. Since then, it has been renamed the Warren and most recently, The Canterbury Hotel. As of Thursday, it is Le Meridien, Downtown Indy’s second luxury boutique hotel.
If you have been to The Alexander, you’re familiar with what most boutique hotels offer: edginess, artful and modern design and European touches. With boutique hotels, bigger is not necessarily better (at Le Meridien, there are only 100 guestrooms). What you do get is personalized service: on my tour of the hotel, General Manager Nick Clark noted his 99 person team and his hopes for one more individual to create a one-to-one staff to rooms ratio. During our elevator ride, after hearing a guest mention he was staying overnight to celebrate an anniversary, Nick called the front desk and asked them to send up a bottle of champagne.
Because it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the hotel’s exterior remains relatively unchanged (I will always love the sturdy gold trimmed double doors and canopy of lights at the entrance). But inside Le Meridien, nearly everything is new and posh and elegant. When walking through the hotel’s doors, I immediately noticed the bar and sleek new restaurant, Spoke & Steele. No check-in desk, no bell carts, no concierge. As Nick said, this space encompasses a restaurant with a hotel, not a hotel with a restaurant.
Perhaps my favorite feature is the cocktails on tap (Manhattans on tap this past week). But as I ooh-ed and ahh-ed my way through the restaurant and into the guest rooms, I found more:
- The bar is multipurpose: a coffee bar by day (offering Illy coffee served by an on-site master barista) and a wine bar by night.
- The décor is traditional meets Mid-Century. Think: clean, classic lines with retro details, low slung and sleek sofas, wingback chairs, marble and gold framed side-tables and exposed white brick walls perfectly contrasted by dark hardwood floors. It’s all very West Elm meets Restoration Hardware and all the stuff urban apartment dwellers in their 30s dream of (ahem, myself).
- All of the rooms have king beds, so if you reserve a double, you get two kings. Le Meridien is the only hotel in Indiana to offer two king beds.
- There are little nods to Indianapolis culture throughout the restaurant and guest rooms: the seats in the booths are actual race car seats, the private drinking room showcases art with the iconic actor Steve McQueen and all rooms feature a kaleidoscope-inspired black and white map of Indianapolis.
With the coffee station open daily at 7 a.m., I am looking forward to treating myself to an Illy coffee and a Le Meridien signature éclair on my way into the office. But with a menu featuring crispy skin striped bass and cocktails on tap, let’s face it: I predict plenty of nights sitting with friends on the black tufted leather couch next to the dual-side fireplace enjoying a night out in Spoke & Steele’s chic living room. Dibs on the wingback chair.