Indy Like a Local: Robin Staten

Who is Robin Staten?

Founder and owner of Tiny Urban Escapes. These upcycled shipping container suites grabbed the attention of The New York Times, which included them on their list of new hotels to check out in 2018.

Q. Where in Indianapolis do you live?

A. I currently reside on the border of Indianapolis and Brownsburg; however, home to me is the west side of Indianapolis where I spent my childhood in the historic Riverside neighborhood. Riverside is rich in history. The neighborhood contains the city’s oldest golf course, and was the home of the Riverside Amusement Park. Our family home is there, and we gather there for meals and holidays regularly.

Tiny Urban Escapes

Q. How long have you live in Indy?

A. I’m a proud Indy native, born and raised.

Q. What inspired you to build Tiny Urban Escapes? Do you have a background in design or hospitality?

A. Honestly, I selfishly wanted a private escape for myself to go to and relax, to unwind and recharge. As a mom of three, wife, sibling, daughter, and working professional, I don’t always have the time to travel and planning travel with family and/or friends can be exhausting in itself. I knew I wanted create something interesting but distinctly different from anything I had experienced. I began researching and traveling to see tiny homes. I came across Glass Haus Living, who I currently partner with and are my builders for the project. I was blown away by the creativity and multiuse of steel containers with floor-to-ceiling glass walls. I remember thinking, I would love to convert these into private suites and host guests here in the city for immediate getaways. Days of thought turned into weeks of pitching and planning, and I decided I wanted to be a female hotelier and own my own private-suite boutique hotel. So that’s just what I did.

I currently serve as assistant controller of a large hotel property in downtown Indianapolis. I previously spent over a decade working in higher education at IUPUI. Although not hospitality, I served thousands of students, families, faculty, and staff. Much of my roles and responsibilities can be very much aligned with hospitality. In the Office of Undergraduate Admission, where I began my career, you’re regarded as spokespeople for the university. Customer interactions, as well as being influential in their level of satisfaction and engagement, were essential to the university’s enrollment and retention. I’d argue that front-line staff are vitally important because of whom they welcome and retain in any organization.

Q. There are tons of TV shows about majorly downsized homes. Do you enjoy those?

A. I love all things HGTV, including the tiny-home shows. I’m a fan of Tiny House, Big Living.

Q. What can one expect from booking a suite at Tiny Urban Escapes? Are they fully equipped?

A. Guests can expect their very own private retreat with beautiful decor and plush linens, local art, and all the amenities of a traditional hotel, including spa-inspired bathrooms. They can also expect the opportunity to reconnect with nature with panoramic views of the serene wooded landscape.

Q. Where do you like to enjoy a great meal in Indy?

A. I recently had the pleasure of dining at Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse for my mother’s 60th birthday – it was amazing! I’m a regular at Palomino for Wine Down Wednesdays. I’m in love with their lavender cosmos and the baked four-cheese rotini. When I’m home on the west side, Williamson Fish Market is a must. It’s family owned.

Q. Do you have a favorite place for a nightcap?

A. Nothing beats a cocktail original from Spoke & Steele (pictured). The cocktail names, such as There’s Something about Mary and Bad & Boozy, are equally as exciting as the drinks themselves. They never disappoint.

Spoke & Steele

Q. If you’re a shopper, where do you like browsing for clothing or gifts for yourself or others?

A. I have three teenagers who seem to find their way to Urban Outfitters at the Fashion Mall every Saturday. I’m a huge fan of Nordstrom Rack and Saks Fifth Avenue – their customer service is unmatched. And I love everything about Home Goods for my home, the suites, and gifts for friends.

Q. What events are on your must-do list?

A. I will not miss the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ Museum by Moonlight! Five floors of great music, exhibits, drinks, the carousel, and food samples from local restaurants is an adult’s playground. The Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration and Strawberry Festival are a must, along with Circle of Lights.

Q. Are there any arts organizations you make a point to support or attend their shows?

A. Kuaba Gallery (pictured), a contemporary African art gallery that features a diverse collection by internationally and locally established artists working in a variety of media that includes paintings, wood, metal, and stone sculptures, as well as ceramic. I stop in for events and had the pleasure of hosting my wedding reception there. It’s in an amazing location right off the Circle with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the heart of downtown Indy.

Kuaba Gallery

Q. If you’re hosting out-of-town guests, where might you take them to get the true Indy experience?

A. There are just so many great local Indianapolis attractions that are worth a first, second, and/or multiple trips back. The Indianapolis Zoo, the Madame Walker Theatre Center, the Canal, and, of course, time spent in Fountain Square is always a great time. I’d throw in several art museums or just exploring Monument Circle. They’re all great!

Q. Do you have a favorite place in the city where you like to enjoy fresh air?

A. The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields has always been one of my favorite places to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. The galleries are surrounded by gardens, water features, and over 100 acres of woodland filled with surprises and beauty. Soon, Tiny Urban Escapes will be at the top of my list!

Q. Have you recently discovered any hidden gems?

A. Thirsty Scholar is the perfect hidden gem for professionals, students, or old friends wanting a laid-back, quiet place to catch up, study, or be as productive as you need to be.

Q. Where do you like to take your kids for time together?

A. Thankfully, my three teenagers still enjoy spending time with me. We often grab a bite to eat in Broad Ripple, stroll Mass Ave, and enjoy each other’s company before they head off to college this year and next year.

Q. Aside from where you live, is there a neighborhood in or around Indy where you like to spend a day or just hang out?

A. The Mapleton Fall-Creek neighborhood has always been alluring to me. The homes there are so original and grand. It’s one of the many gems in Indianapolis you can’t help but love.


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