on July 29, 2012
A Holiday Inn Express wouldn't ever be my first choice of hotel but I recently went away with a group of people for an event and this was the hotel that was being used. I still don't understand why they chose this hotel. It's very difficult to get to if you don't drive and even if you do drive you have to think about where you're going to park when you drive into Canterbury (although there is plenty of parking in the hotel). At £97 per night for a room this wasn't exactly a cheap option.==Holiday Inn Expresses==Until my visit to this hotel I had never paid much attention to the Holiday Inn Express. I am a priority club member of Intercontinental Hotel Group but I've always stayed in Holiday Inn's or Crowne Plaza's, never the express. However, after this experience I have to say that I love the concept. It's all very simple. You have everything that you need but nothing more. It's clean, comfortable and simple. The kind of place you choose when all you really want is a hot shower, a reasonable breakfast and a good night's sleep. ==Checking in and out==Check in and out was very efficient. According to my dad the purpose of the Holiday Inn Express is that you can check out quickly so I guess it's really to be expected. I found the process much quicker than in other hotels. The same woman checked me in and out. She had a really friendly manner and I found her very welcoming. This hotel does not deliver newspapers to bedrooms but does have complimentary copies of I available. ==The Room==The bedroom actually wasn't much different to the usual Holiday Inn bedrooms. I had a double bed, with the Holiday Inn's usual choice of soft or hard pillows and a duvet. The bed was comfortable and I slept really well. There was also a sofa bed in the bedroom, which turns into a double bed. So the room can actually sleep up to four people. I didn't use the sofa bed so I can't comment on how comfortable it is.The bedroom was clean and there was heating in the room that the guest controls so I was warm throughout my stay. On my second day the cleaning staff did just leave me clean towels outside of the room and I had to request that they clean the room for me. I'm not sure if that is just the policy of Holiday Inn Express or if it was just something unique to this hotel. There were tea and coffee making facilities in the room, although I didn't use them. The bathroom in this hotel was really where I could see the big difference between a Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. The bathroom consists of a shower, sink and toilet. The way that the door works is that you can close it as usual or you can open it all of the way so that it creates a toilet cubicle. I didn't like this much because I jammed my hand in the door twice. Not the fault of the hotel of course, I'm just clumsy. But it never happens on other kinds of doors. You don't get all of the usual little extras in this hotel. There's just two soap dispensers with a soap (one in the shower, one next to the sink) that you can use for your hair, body and hands. I thought this was really good because I always think that hotel soaps are a waste when you're only there for a couple of nights and get a whole bar of soap that you don't use up.The only issue that I have with this room was that the plumbing was really loud. It didn't keep me awake but did irritate me while I was awake. There is a television in the room which I used to drown out the noise but it is very small and only has the usual five channels.==Eating and Drinking==There is a dining area in this hotel which reminded me very much of a school canteen. The tables are just very basic and there is a bar where you order food and drink. The choice of food was actually pretty good, there were steaks and pasta and curry (among other dishes) as well as a children's menu. I had steak on both nights and it was really good. It was cooked perfectly which I can't say very often. Portion sizes were generous and my steak came with chips, tomatoes and mushrooms. There was also a good selection of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. I was very surprised to enjoy my meal at this hotel. The food was far too good for this kind of hotel. The only thing that really let it down was the service. There was one female member of staff who was just so rude. She was completely hopeless at her job, taking ages to pour drinks and failing to multi task. She always left the bar until there were at least two customers waiting and then started to serve them. I had one experience which really disgusted me. There was an older man who was very slow to move and seemed to have some trouble hearing her. He was in front of me in the queue and had to return to his table to get the menu. While he was doing so the woman looked at me and rolled her eyes. She was very short with him, speaking abruptly and looking really angry. I have never been so disgusted by service in a hotel before and I wish that I had made a complaint at the time. The service provided by the chef did make up for it somewhat, he was really friendly and jovial. It's just unfortunate that he had to pick up the slack for an incompetent member of staff by not only cooking the food but also delivering it to tables when the hotel wasn't even busy. Breakfast is included in the price of this hotel. I didn't eat much at breakfast, just some toast and coffee, which you can't really go wrong with. The breakfast was basic but did include both cold and hot items. There was plenty of coffee so I was happy!==Overall==At almost £100 per night this hotel is completely overpriced, I would recommend shopping around for your room and getting a good deal (my parents got their room for £37). This hotel does exactly what it claims to do, it provides you with everything that you need for a pleasant but not luxurious stay. If you just want somewhere to stay while you explore a city then it's absolutely perfect. If you can get a price that reflects the quality of this hotel then I would absolutely recommend it. As the price doesn't reflect the standard I'm rating this hotel 3 stars. If it was cheaper then it would get four stars.
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