Architecture

Top Five: Arty Hotels

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5. Hotel Indigo

The Hotel Indigo is appropriately named after its splashy blue interior and is located uptown near the Galleria. It's an upscale boutique of the Intercontinental Hotels Group brand. These are the same people that bring us Holiday Inn, but the Indigo is not formulaic or low budget. "The Houston property was one of our first in the high-end brand. We opened the Indigo in 2006 and it was conceived as an urban oasis," said Caroline Counihan, public relations senior manager of IHG. "Each unique hotel in our upscale brand reflects the local neighborhood in design." Though the Indigo is backed by a large brand, the goal is to have a unique, local experience as a guest.

The calm, homey rooms with wooden floors are reminiscent of a quaint beach home and contrast nicely with the palatial exterior and contemporary front lobby.

Reflecting Houston, the guest rooms and public spaces have large murals inspired by the nearby Gerald D. Hines Waterwall Park. The Hotel Indigo also works with artists in another unique way. "We feature rotating art exhibits in the hotel. Currently, the featured artist is Larry Crawford. His images are on view and available for sale," said Counihan.

Though the Indigo does not typically share guest names, they recently hosted Holly Williams for their "Artist in the Spotlight" event. Rachel Ray and her production team stayed at the Indigo while hosting a benefit wedding event as well.

4. The Alden Hotel Downtown, the Alden Hotel was originally opened as the Sam Houston Hotel in 1924 and transformed into the Alden in 2002 after sitting vacant for 25 years. This boutique hotel has a balance of historic and modern. The interior is rich and textural without being overly lavish.

We spoke with Dora Rodriguez, director of sales for the Alden. The hotel is currently redesigning to get back to its roots, which Rodriguez describes as "Texas upscale contemporary. We wanted more flair, more 'Texas.' We're incorporating leather pieces, lots of couches and chairs made from animal hides."

The Alden has even renamed its bar the "Sam Bar"--the original 1924 name.

The staff keeps guests names confidential, but Rodriquez did say the hotel hosts celebrities and entertainers frequently.

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Kaylan Tannahill