BG1 Verdict: 65%
“Tired no-frills hotel with a good breakfast. Best for groups.”
On a short weekend away seeing family and friends, we spent a night at the Holiday Inn Express in Poole. Express is the budget brand of Holiday Inn and seeks to offer comfortable, no-frills accommodation in central locations. Read our Holiday Inn Express Poole review to find out what we thought of our stay.
In this review:
Name: Holiday Inn Express
Location: Poole, United Kingdom, BH15 1RZ
Hotel Class: ☆☆☆
Chain: Holiday Inn (IHG)
Loyalty Programme: IHG Rewards
Room Type: Double Room with Sofa Bed
Room #: 223
Price bracket: ££
Competing brands: Premier Inn, Travelodge
Good for: Families, Couples, Groups
Holiday Inn Express Poole is located in centre of Poole town centre, just a behind the main bus station. It’s location made it handy both for exploring the centre of Poole, but also further afield using the local bus network.
Although Poole is a costal town, guests at the Holiday Inn Express aren’t afforded sea views. In fact, the rooms at the front of the property have views across a dual carriageway to the bus station, while rooms at the back overlook a car park and office block. While surprisingly quiet inside, the setting for this property isn’t the nicest.
Despite its proximity, reaching the bus station was something of a challenge. The route across the roads that twist their way around the front of the hotel was unclear and made for a short-but-scary walk. With limited street lighting, we’d recommend a taxi after dark.
Location Score: 5/10
Our arrival at Holiday Inn Express Poole was fairly straightforward. We easily found a space in the rear car park at walked around to the main entrance. Being a 3-star property, there was no assistance at the entrance or lobby.
The front desk was quiet when we arrived at 15:30. The gentleman on reception quickly located our reservation, asked us to complete a small check-in form with IHG opt-in, told us about the arrangements for breakfast and Wi-Fi, then advised us of the parking restrictions at the property (see Facilities and Services).
Check-in Score: 7/10
Our room was a Double Bed Room with Sofa Bed, which was one of the larger rooms in the hotel. The hotel had slightly smaller rooms without the sofa bed, but these were sold out when we made our reservation.
Entering the room, there was a bathroom to the left and a luggage rack/hanging space to the left. Walking further into the room past the bathroom, the space opened-up to reveal a double bed on the left, with a sofa bed next to it. On the right was a desk and drawers with a TV on top. Beside that was a full-length mirror. Because the sofa bed folded out into a bed, there was a larger than normal amount of floor space at that end of the room. At the far end was a medium-sized window that looked out over the rear car park.
Our immediate impression was that the room looked a little dated and quite tired. The vibrant colours had faded over time and left the room looking due for a refit.
The mattress itself was comfortable enough, but the pillows were too soft and didn’t provide enough support. So much, we found ourselves sleeping without them. The was nicely made and the cotton sheets and duvet felt fresh.
The bathroom was functional and rather basic, although was very clean. The sink had wrap-around mirror, which was good for shaving. The shower was sufficiently powerful and in good working order.
The hand wash and shower gel provided seemed of reasonable quality, although the toilet paper was below average.
The towels looked a little tired and the stickers on the wall further cheapened the experience.
The TV screened the regular UK digital TV channels – all seemed to work and the remote worked fine.
Tea and coffee making facilities were provided in the form of a kettle, tea bags, sachets of instant coffee, and small UHT milk pots.
The room had an iron and full-size, floor-standing ironing board, tucked behind the main door.
Despite looking tired, the room had been thoroughly cleaned prior to our arrival. Linen was fresh, although those towels had reached the end of the road and should’ve been binned.
Our night’s sleep in our Double Room with Sofa Bed at the Holiday Inn Express Poole was decidedly average. While the hotel itself was peaceful and situated in a quiet part of the town, the internal plumbing seemed to be creating a commotion. Throughout the night, there seemed to be a near continuous hissing and humming of water noises, either from our own appliances or those of our neighbours. Combining this with the uncomfortable bedding, the night wasn’t particularly restful.
Room Score: 5/10
Facilities & Services
Being a budget hotel brand, the Holiday Inn Express Poole didn’t have facilities like a swimming pool, gym, or entertainment. It did, however, do fairly well for a budget hotel, having a good sized bar and lounge area, allowing guests and their children a space to relax over a drink. There was a small vending near to reception where snacks conventionally found in room mini bars can be purchased. Payment for these items was made at reception. Free ice was available from the machine.
There was also a comprehensive selection of information about local tourist attractions.
While the Holiday Inn Express Poole has a car park, charges were applicable to guests at a rate of £6 per night’s stay. The car park was monitored by cameras, with £100 penalty charges automatically being issued to unauthorised vehicles. There was a console in reception that enabled guests to register their registration number. We were strongly advised to do this by the receptionist, even if we weren’t planning on keeping the car there overnight.
Given the car park was part of the property, we felt it odd that a charge was being levied for hotel guests. Either the local council have forbidden them from providing free guest parking, or the hotel is causing unnecessary guest friction by trying to make a few extra pounds in unexpected charges. Taking the poor pedestrian access into consideration, this all felt wrong.
We were given complimentary Wi-Fi access and clocked speeds of↓ 3 Mbps ↑ 1 Mbps – acceptable for messaging and browsing, but may present challenges for streaming video or downloading large files.
Facilities & Services Score: 6/10
Bars & Dining
Holiday Inn Express Poole had a single lounge bar and dining area. It was a large and quite welcoming space that served as a nice place for groups to meet outside of their rooms. A full range of drinks could be purchased from the bar from lunchtime onwards. The bar also served food, with a selection of bar meals available throughout the day and into the evening. The reception staff told us the bar usually closes when the last guest leaves.
The breakfast at Holiday Inn Express Poole was a hot and cold buffet served from 07:00 – 10:30 in the lounge bar. The hot buffet was a full English breakfast featuring bacon, sausages, beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. Eggs were scrambled, which was fine for one of us who likes scrambled eggs, but less good for the other who dislikes them. No other type of egg. What you see is what you get. The overall quality of the food was mid-range breakfast cuisine, similar to that found in local workers cafés or canteen-like places.
A self-service bread and toaster station offered a variety of breads and preserves to accompany the breakfast.
On the cold buffet, we found a selection of cereals, fruit, and yoghurt. The selection was rounded off with a coffee machine dispensing OK-tasting coffee and fresh fruit juice.
It was busy on the Sunday morning we visited, although the size of the lounge bar meant there were still free tables. There were a couple of tables that needed clearing, although two members of staff were working as hard as they could to get to them. They were working very efficiently, although were clearly rushed off their feet.
Overall, the breakfast was slightly above our expectations for the class of hotel. A better range of eggs, and perhaps one extra member of staff, may have made the experience better.
As we’d pre-paid for our room and incurred no incidental charges, checking out at the end of our stay at Holiday Inn Express Poole was as simple as handing the key cards back to the receptionist. We didn’t have to queue, but if lines started to form there was an express check-out key drop box. Express by name, Express by nature.
So, as we drove out of the car park, how did we reflect on our stay at Holiday Inn Express Poole? We felt the tired room fell slightly below our expectations, while the food and beverage elements slightly exceeded what we’d anticipated. The car parking charge felt like either penny-pinching or bureaucracy that’s likely to sour the arrival experience for most. The staff we encountered throughout our stay were friendly and helpful. As far as budget hotels in Poole go, it was about right. Choice is limited and prices can soar at peak periods; the location of this hotel is better than some of its rivals. Taking everything into consideration, we would consider staying here again. We’ll be more enthusiastic when the rooms are refurbished.