Stay, dine, play, explore. Bottleworks District, the new multi-use neighborhood that has been built into the former Coca-Cola Bottling Plant in the Mass Ave neighborhood of downtown Indianapolis, has been designed for visitors to do all of that — and more. With the first phase of Bottleworks District now open to the public, we got a chance to check out the Bottleworks Hotel and The Garage food hall, and see all of the ways that families can have fun in this area, where everything old is new again.
They say that excellence is in the details, and that phrase is especially true for Bottleworks Hotel, a 139-room boutique hotel in downtown’s Mass Ave neighborhood. The crowning glory of the Bottleworks District, Bottleworks Hotel occupies the top two floors of the historic Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, and fortunately, it retains many of the original features.
Entering the lobby, I couldn’t help but marvel over the beauty of the hotel: the art deco-style doors and terrazzo floors, the gold details and colorful ceramic tiles. My children were less impressed with the historic architecture and more impressed with the pool table located in the lobby, but hey — to each his own!
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Our room — the Landmark Queen, which included two queen beds — was located in the original wing of the hotel. Among other charming details, it featured a walk-in rain shower which my kids loved, and soft, luxurious robes to wear during our stay.
As we walked around the hotel, we discovered an old-fashioned photo booth, and a wall lined with dozens of old cameras, which was a perfect spot for a photo op. We hopped into the photo booth to try to capture a family photo — and we got it on our second try! Each session in the photo booth costs $5, and you get both a color and black-and-white series of photos.
Some of the details that make Bottleworks Hotel unique: Each hotel door is a shiny, bright, Coca-Cola red. A grand, winding staircase at the back of the hotel features an ornate ceiling design that harkens back to its 1930s past. There are art books and couches on each floor, which invite you to stay a while and read. Lined all along the walls are black-and-white photos of people, from construction workers to rock stars. It’s all these details that add up to a one-of-a-kind hotel experience.
You know how sometimes it’s impossible to choose a restaurant because everyone wants something different? That’s not a problem at The Garage, because there are more than a dozen different food and beverage vendors inside this bustling food hall. My oldest son found a place to get a slice of woodfired pizza that was as big as his head (Abbiocco Pizzaria), while my youngest son opted for a plain hot dog (Clancy’s Hamburgers). My husband and I are more adventurous eaters, and fortunately, there were a lot of options for us. My arepa — a stuffed Venezuelan cornmeal cake — from Azucar Morena was just what I was looking for. My husband headed to Gauchos’s Fire for Brazilian steak fries and Brazilian cheese bread.
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You’ll also find oysters and seafood at Bluepoint Oyster House & Bar, Hawaiian poke at Poke Guru and traditional Mexican food at La Chinita Poblana. My husband and I got drinks at Hard Truth Distillery, located in the middle of The Garage. How could we not: Hard Truth has a type of whiskey called Sipes … and our last name is Sipe … so it was like it was meant to be.
The kids got their own treat — ice cream! — at Lick Ice Cream, also located inside The Garage. This local ice cream shop has been a staple of Indianapolis since 2010, and they now have a spot in the Bottleworks food hall. Lick Ice Cream serves up some unique flavors — think Earl Grey and French Violet — but they also have familiar favorites like milk chocolate and vanilla bean.
Living Room Theaters
We didn’t get a chance to check out Living Room Theaters while we were there, but we’re planning to be back at some point, because our family loves catching a movie. Living Room Theater, which opened January 15, is a full-service theatre where you can order food and beverages right from your comfy, reclining seat. This eight-screen theater will play both mainstream and indie films, and it is located right across the street from The Garage.
Coming Soon to Bottleworks
Bottleworks District is a work in progress, and the next phase of development will bring Pins Mechanical to the neighborhood, a 25,000-square-foot entertainment center. Pins Mechanical is the sister company of 16-Bit Bar + Arcade, and will offer duckpin bowling, bocce ball, patio pong and a variety of vintage pinball machines — so there will be something for everyone in the family. Pins Mechanical is scheduled to open sometime in 2021.
The History of Bottleworks
Before it became the marvelous mixed-use site that it is today, Bottleworks District used to be the site of the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, and was once the world’s largest bottling facility in the world. At its height in the 1950s, the bottling plant was producing more than 2 million Coca-Cola bottles every week at this Indianapolis hub!
Over time, when cans started to replace bottles as the most popular vessels for bubbly beverages, the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant was sold in 1964 to Indianapolis Motor Speedway Tony Hulman, and then sold again in 1968 to Indianapolis Public Schools, for use as the school’s central prep kitchen, bus service center and woodworking studio. In 2017, Hendricks Commercial Properties took ownership of the bottling plant to develop Bottleworks District.
As you walk all around Bottleworks District, and especially through the hotel, you see the history of the bottling plant displayed everywhere, mixed with fresh, modern offerings. Bottleworks District has maintained a lot of its storied history, and is celebrated in all of the details. And now it’s open for all of us to enjoy!