By early September, if not weeks sooner, the much anticipated Hotel Indigo will open in East Liberty.

“Every Hotel Indigo is different, each patterned by its local neighborhood,” says general manager Jordan Bartels during a tour with NEXTpittsburgh. “Being in East Liberty, we wanted to play off that era in the ‘20s and ‘30s and the vibrant theater scene that was here with the Sheridan Square, the Bijou Dream and the Regent.”

With funky decor that features wall-wide murals of movie reels and stage rigging and a color scheme of gray, gold and turquoise in bold designs throughout, the hotel’s decor will reflect an age when “going to the theater was entertainment.”

Murals over beds capture the entertainment theme. Photo by Tracy Certo

Another source of entertainment during this Prohibition era was frequenting the speakeasy which is the theme for Hotel Indigo’s full-service bar and restaurant, called Wallace’s TapRoom. It fronts Highland with a separate entrance for visitors who aren’t staying at the hotel.

In the main lobby, tile design on the floor mimics the Three Rivers. “There’s the Allegheny,” notes Bartels with his foot.

To build the hotel, they “blended four buildings together to make one unique hotel,” says Bartels. Some buildings are old—the entrance is an old red brick building that actually was a speakeasy while another structure had reincarnations as three different hotels—and one building is new construction. “You get this cool vibe with all these different eras blended together,” he adds, noting that architectural details were restored whenever possible.

The back entrance of Hotel Indigo with architectural details restored in the old building. Photo by Tracy Certo

“I’ve worked for a lot of hotels, and in this business, people tear down old buildings because it’s faster to build new ones than to restore old ones,” he says. “But this finished product will be something we’ll all be proud of.”

The design goal is to create “something out of the ordinary to provide an escape for the weary business traveler.” Hotel Indigo also draws the leisure traveler who is “very savvy—tech savvy, travel savvy—and looking for an experience,” says Bartels. And part of this experience will be getting the flavor of Pittsburgh. “We use as many local vendors as possible,” he adds.

Jordan Bartels, general manager, on the sixth floor of Hotel Indigo. Photo by Tracy Certo

Zeke’s Coffee is creating a signature blend for the hotel and Thoma Meat Market will supply the meat, including specially made brisket-infused burger blend. Mediterra Bakehouse will bake the bread and Natrona Bottling will bubble up soda made with cane sugar. Emerald Valley Artisans will provide the cheese.

Craft beers from 11 local breweries will be on tap and the front desk agents will be wearing designs from Kiya Tomlin, whose store is across the street.

“With such an emphasis on the local market, there’s usually a lot of local interest in the hotel,” says Bartels.

Room features include spa-inspired baths with Aveda products, windows that open (many with stunning views), free Wi-Fi, hardwood floors and a movie-themed mural behind the bed. And note: pets are welcome. The hotel also offers 2,240 square feet of meeting space and an outdoor patio.

In this part of town—with Google, the many incubators and the Med-Ed community—there’s a growing demand for the boutique experience, says Bartel. “It’s the perfect time to be in Pittsburgh.”

The street side view from N Highland of Hotel Indigo. Photo by Tracy Certo

This boutique hotel chain has 61 other locations worldwide and is part of the InterContinental Hotels Group, which also own the Kimpton brand—one of which is downtown’s Hotel Monaco.

Lauri Gravina

Woods wanderer who was an an editor at New England’s regional magazine, the research director of a Colorado newspaper and a farm hand in Vermont before returning to Pittsburgh to write about and explore...