Indianapolis — The art deco era was a time of beautiful and lavish — some might even say indulgent — architectural design, extending from icons such as the Chrysler Building in New York City to the largest soda pop bottling plant in the world, the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Indianapolis.
Although the bottling plant relocated 50 years ago, the building, restored to its gleaming, art deco glory, reopened this year as the Bottleworks Hotel, anchoring the Bottleworks arts and entertainment district (www.bottleworksdistrict.com).
The hotel is a great place for travelers to indulge themselves for an evening or two while exploring one of the newest entertainment districts in Indiana’s capital.
The hotel, at 850 Massachusetts Ave. (www.bottleworkshotel.com) retains its original ornate terra cotta facade, restored and resplendent.
The bold tiles in the lobby have also been restored, repaired and replaced when necessary, as have the terrazzo floors and the gleaming brass fixtures and trim.
The design elements all come together at the main staircase, its curving brass rails romantically reflecting, this time of year, lights from the hotel Christmas tree.
In the guest wings, the glossy red doors of each room contrast perfectly with the long rows of five-foot tall black-and-white portraits that line the halls. The portraits are of people from all walks of life, some famous (Chuck Yeager hung just outside my room), some extravagant, some seemingly ordinary, but all fascinating under examination. Some of the portraits are reproductions of classic works, others were taken especially for the hotel. Several are of the workers who helped on the massive hotel renovation project.
Inside, each room is appointed with modern, comfortable amenities that seem completely congruous with their luxurious surroundings.
Also inside the hotel building are Sundry and Vice (www.sundryandvice.com) cocktail lounge, Blue Collar Coffee Co. coffee shop, and Modita, an Asian-inspired restaurant with an interesting and tasty take on dim sum, noodles and rice, sushi and more.
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Adjacent to the hotel is Garage Food Hall (www.garageindy.com) located in former bottling plant garages. The Garage is now home to a wide variety of food vendors such as Chapati Beta with Pakistani-Indian inspired dishes, Poke Guru, and Blupoint Oysterhouse & Bar, to name only a few.
Visitors will also find several interesting boutiques including Foxx Fabrix, specializing in hand-dyed apparel; and outdoor-inspired clothing and personal-care items at Becker Supply Co.
Elsewhere in the Bottleworks District, visitors will find a Pins Mechanical — similar to the one in Downtown Columbus — with duckpin bowling, pinball, giant Jenga and many other games, plus cocktails and a large selection of draft beer; and Living Room Theater, an eight-screen cinema offering food and first-run movies.
Many other restaurants, shops and services are located in the Bottleworks District, which, itself is an extension of the five-block long Massachusetts Avenue arts and entertainment district (www.massavelydifferent.com).
Although visitors can easily spend an entire weekend or more exploring the Bottleworks District and Mass Ave, as it’s known, I decided to expand my explorations with a 10-minute walk to the Circle City Industrial Complex, 1125 E. Brookside Ave. (www.circlecityind.com), a former industrial site covering several city blocks with more than a half-million square feet under roof.
The funky, fascinating complex houses a number of artists’ studios and galleries, a craft brewer and two craft distillers, eateries, specialty retailers and the massive Fowling Warehouse, the home of a new sport taking the city by storm.
Fowling — it rhymes with “bowling,” not, unfortunately, “howling” — was invented on the infield of the Indianapolis 500. The sport is a combination of bowling and football with a pace and atmosphere reminiscent of cornhole.
Participants use a football to take aim at a standard setup of 10 bowling pins, with the first team to knock down all the pins the winner.
The Fowling Warehouse (www.fowlingwarehouse.com/indianapolis/) holds dozens of Fowling courts, often filled to capacity, as well as its own tavern. Fowling now has franchises in five cities including Cincinnati, but why not try it out where it was born while seeing the other great things the neighborhood has to offer?
Check out www.visitindy.com for more information about everything to see and do in Indianapolis.
Steve Stephens is a freelance travel writer and photographer. Email him at [email protected].