The Indiana University campus is renowned for its beautiful limestone buildings, and the Indiana Memorial Union (IMU) that houses the Biddle Hotel and Conference Center is perhaps the best of the bunch. The sprawling 500,000-square-foot facility is one of the largest student unions in the world; it holds not only 189 boutique hotel rooms and suites but also a food court, study lounges, computer labs, a bowling alley and a commons area that fans of Breaking Away will recognize from the movie. Parklike green spaces surround IMU, which is within easy walking distance of the bustling shops, restaurants, and bars of Kirkwood Avenue and downtown Bloomington.
Accommodations range from economy rooms with one double bed for $105 to grand suites for $305, some containing antique furnishings. Even with an AAA discount, our smallish room with two double beds still came to $176. The thermostat control was useless, but the room was clean and handsomely appointed with dark wood furniture and a peaceful view out windows that actually opened for a breath of fresh air. The sunny yellow-tiled bathroom was cramped and difficult to maneuver in, but we appreciated details like the dorm-size fridge, coffeemaker, Gilchrist and Soames toiletries, complimentary Wi-Fi and a local newspaper shoved under the door in the morning.
There are definitely cheaper hotel rooms elsewhere in town, but for a truly authentic Bloomington/IU experience, you can’t do better than the Biddle Hotel. Rooms book up quickly during Indiana University events like graduation, Little 500 and football weekends, and noise and traffic can be much bigger issues during the academic year than in the summer.