Our reviewer found this hotel to be a genuine surprise
Product: Next Generation hotels at Holiday Inn Express www.ihg.com/holidayinnexpress Price: £79.00 Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)
The reputation of 'reasonably priced hotel chains' has long been set in stone. They’re a convenient choice with reliable standards and are easy to book, especially when considering family rooms for children or grandchildren. The downside is they’re often very similar, bland places to stay. Holiday Inn Express have set out to challenge this, and I was interested to experience their new concept: “Next Generation” rooms, reception areas and service.
During a weekend visit to London, we stayed at Holiday Inn Express Park Royal, about 15 minutes tube journey from the city centre and right next door to North Acton Underground Station. The Park Royal is one of four Holiday Inn Express hotels in the UK piloting the introduction of the “Next Generation" concept, poised to be rolled out across the chain in the next couple of years.
On arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by a bright, airy reception area with modern, funky touches. The welcoming reception staff clearly took pride in their brand-new working environment.
During check-in, we were shown our room on a map of the hotel via a touch-screen tablet, its location within the building and proximity to the lift and stairs. We were offered the option of alternative rooms (for example one at the rear of the building), should we prefer another location in the hotel.
Our room was a genuine surprise, standing head and shoulders above our past experience of comparable hotels. An elegant soft grey colour scheme featured throughout the bedroom and ensuite shower room, with vibrant touches of accent colour. A large, comfy bed and quality fittings and fabrics created a relaxing environment. My children noted the truly comfortable sofa bed (inferior children’s beds is often a complaint heard regarding family hotel rooms).
The room boasted many innovative features in a class above its peers. We were able to browse our location and check the weather on the smart TV. My daughters were soon streaming photos of our day in the city from their smartphones directly to the TV screen using free wi-fi. We noticed a couple of USB charging sockets to replenish laptops and phones as well as ample power sockets in all the right places. A funky ergonomic chair and moveable workspace/dining table has replaced the standard fixed desk. Further high-spec touches included, in the bathroom, a fabulous power-shower, soft-close loo seat and stylish lighting. The bedroom boasted a soothing mood lighting option too.
Back in the lounge, the hotel offered a small selection of evening meals, a bar and a vibrant guest lounge featuring tablet computers to browse the internet. There were conveniently placed USB ports around the guest lounge and dining area. Included in the overnight price is a great self-service continental and cooked breakfast with notably good coffee!
“Next Generation” hotels at Holiday Inn Express are setting an excellent benchmark. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of bland hotel rooms?