I check out the ‘next generation’ Holiday Inn Express design – did it impress?

Last week had a wild and crazy travel schedule even by HFP standards.  As well as visiting Southend on Monday, I headed out to West Ealing on Friday.

The reason for my visit was to take a look at the new Holiday Inn Express London Ealing.  This is the first Holiday Inn Express in the UK to feature a new ‘next generation’ design which will be the template for all new properties going forward.

I have to say I was impressed.

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

The first wave of Holiday Inn Express hotels was developed around a ‘cheap and not hugely cheerful’ prefabricated room template.  There was nothing wrong with the quality but it was pretty dispiriting.  If you’ve ever stayed in one, you will have marvelled how the bathroom door also doubles as the toilet door.

The problem is that chains like Premier Inn, which are pitched at the same market, chose to invest in a more upmarket design and HIX was getting left behind.  This ‘new generation’ of design is meant to reverse that trend.

Here is an overview of a room at the Holiday Inn Express Ealing.  I saw a corner room so it is brighter than usual:

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

The room is bright with neutral colour scheme, offset by red accents in the Bodum kettle, chair, document rack and cushion.  I liked it.

Let’s look in detail at some of the features.  There is no wardrobe, just a few open hangers:

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

The TV is a Smart TV.  This is the first time that I have seen one in a hotel as far as I can remember.  You can call up BBC iPlayer, YouTube etc.  It swings back from the wall to face the bed.  You still get a kettle, tea, coffee etc.

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

There is no desk.  You get a funky but not hugely comfy chair and the wooden table.  At least it is a wooden table and so can be used with a mouse, unlike the glass table I had at The May Fair Hotel last week.

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

Unfortunately, they messed up here.  There is no plug socket anywhere near the desk so unless you have a 10 foot power cable you will be doing some furniture rearranging if you want to work.

Speaking of power cables, the hotel has powered USB sockets as well as traditional plugs.

Here is a nice touch.  What you have below is a mirror which, instead of being fixed flat to the wall, pivots out at 30 degrees.  This creates a void where an ironing board and iron can sit.

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

The net impact of all of the above is that the room felt very spacious even though it was actually relative small in square metre terms.  Even the lighting had been well done – you can see the hidden downlights in this photo:

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

I then opened the bathroom door and was genuinely surprised.

What you have is a huge open plan wet room.  I have stayed in five star hotels with far smaller bathrooms.  (EDIT: the comments below suggest that I may have been shown a wheelchair-accessible bathroom.  It may also have been, as a corner room, the bathroom was simply bigger to fill the space.  I know from the fire escape floor plan that normal rooms are the standard shoe box shape.)

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review


Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

Down in the lobby, there was also a fresh new look.  Here is the dining area:

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

…. with a rack of free magazines to read:

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

…. and an all-day coffee machine (tokens bought from reception):

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

…. and a lighter, brighter bar:

Holiday Inn Express Ealing review

I would be perfectly happy to spend a few days in a hotel like this.  It reminded me of the Hampton by Hilton in Berlin where I had a great stay around five years ago and when I first realised that Holiday Inn Express was going to be in serious trouble if it didn’t modernise.

But what about the hotel itself?

I should add a few words about the hotel itself rather than just the ‘next generation’ design.  Holiday Inn Express London Ealing is not the best located hotel in the world.  It is well over a mile from Ealing Broadway underground station.  A far better option is West Ealing mainline station, about 6-7 minutes walk away, but that has only four trains an hour and is closed on Sunday.  West Ealing trains connect to the tube at Ealing Broadway or you can travel into Paddington.

Sitting directly on Broadway, you are not short of shopping options – although mainly of the Poundworld variety.  I can imagine that it could also get noisy at night in the rooms overlooking the street.

This is all reflected in the price – one of the cheapest Holiday Inn Express properties in London.  Given the high quality and general all-round ‘newness’ of the hotel (with free breakfast for everyone) I would recommend it as a decent option if your budget is low but your standards high.  You can find out more and book on the hotel page of the IHG website here.

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  1. Looks like it was an accessible room, hence the large open wet room style bathroom. Would be surprised if normal rooms had that layout.

    • Lochlann says:

      Thought same when looking at it just now

    • Was going to say the same thing. Notice the red emergency cord near the toilet with a pull down bar on the opposite side nearer the door. Unless they have designed all rooms in this way, which would be a surprise.

    • Johnnycl says:

      Yes it must be wheelchair accessible. The room I stayed in there had a separate shower cubicle (very spacious) in the bathroom.

  2. HiDeHi says:

    Looks similar to Aloft hotels. Not sure I am a huge fan of these new hotels without a proper desk. I have no problem with a more modern design, but I still want a proper desk.

  3. SydneySwan says:

    Wow – West Ealing and Southend in the same week! I doubt most get to go to both in the same lifetime!

  4. Henry Young says:

    Yes that’s definitely a wheelchair accessible bathroom. I had similar in the Oxford Holiday Inn Express recently. The space is nice but I prefer a more enclosed shower space. I always wondered what people do about their soaking wet wheelchairs after a shower, or does the hotel provide a purpose one ?

  5. Keith says:

    Coincidentally I am currently in a new design HIX in Lichfield choosing to break up the journey to Alton Towers. Like yourself I have been pleasantly surprised by the new design. This one does have a desk, is a decent size with a king size bed. The downsides are the bathroom seems to be the old design and there is no socket/usb point anywhere near the bed. But for £37 including breakfast, I am quite impressed!

  6. I stayed at an HIX in Milton Keynes a couple of weeks ago which is currently being refurbished to the new design. My room was one of the old style rooms (although I find them perfectly acceptable) but the breakfast was the ‘new design’. Much improved spread – now includes bacon, porridge ‘pots’, a takeaway option (you can build your own breakfast baps with bags included), croissants that were actually heated in an oven and not a microwave … the coffee machines could still do with an upgrade though!

    • We stayed at HIX Milton Keynes and I agree with your comments. When they told us there was bacon for breakfast I imagined the thin fatty strips that HIX had briefly when they started the hot breakfast items. The next morning I was impressed that it was actually proper bacon rashers and also that the sausages had been improved. For about £35, the stay was great value. Am looking forward to seeing the refurbished rooms for myself!

  7. Geoggy says:

    Glad you liked it. Most fellow Ealing residents think it’s a monstrosity.

    Mind you so is the rest of West Ealing Broadway. First 97p store I’ve seen!

    • Raffles says:

      I was going to mention the 97p Store but thought better of it. I did grab a snack at the fried chicken shop on the corner of the road where West Ealing station joins Broadway!

      • Geoggy says:

        Best you don’t google their hygiene rating Rob!

        If you are in the area again the Lebanese place called Ya Sham is excellent food and BYO

  8. “At least it is a wooden table and so can be used with a mouse, unlike the glass table I had at The May Fair Hotel last week.”
    You need to get yourself a Logitech Anywhere Mouse MX 😉

  9. Interestingly, accor are building a new ibis along the same stretch of road. Not sure why the area needs so many cheap-and-cheerful hotels, bit there must be a reason.

    • Geoggy says:

      It’s the “cross rail” boom that’s seen a proliferation of average chain restaurants open at Ealing Broadway and the Dickens Yard development with horribly over priced apartments

      • William says:

        Tell me about it!

        So Ealing has two ‘retail’ claims to fame now…The first Nandos in the UK! Never mind Ealing Studios, these are two great commercial stories.

        I’m curious about this location tbf…West Ealing is trading on the ‘crossrail’ story but the train frequency will still only be 4 per hour. Is this the logic for Holiday Inn or is there something else about the location I’m missing? I’m not sure when its pomp was but that part of West Ealing is pretty horrid…HfP’s reference to poundshops is putting it politely. There is a Waitrose though 😉

        I imagine the problem for hotel groups is there’s nowhere to go on the Broadway proper (next to EB) until they knock down the whole strip opposite the station and the station itself. Even then I’m sure it will go to overpriced tiny flats.

    • Lady London says:

      er…. because the area is cheap n cheerful?

      I stayed there on points a couple of weeks ago. The photo is definitely an accessible room not the regular one. I had a regular shower which was very nice and large. It had a door, so did not soak the entire bathroom.

      I found the staff to be hugely helpful and willing, whilst claiming the hotel is in Ealing which is utter tosh. It’s in West Ealing which is very different. There’s a minicab office practically opposite. I suspect a taxi to Heathrow would be 20-30min on a good day and not that expensive. I agree with another poster that the coffee was forgettable. The bacon quality was good but it was like the old BMI lounge in T1 – bacon hardly cooked at all and flabby. It needs proper crisping please guys otherwise your nice bacon is a waste of time! At least round the edges.

      I would happily stay there again noting there’s no tube that nearby, but a very decent waitrose walkable and a sainsbury’s in the courtyard next to the hotel set a little further back from the street than the hotel.

      Think I still prefer the US Hamptons I’ve stayed in although breakfast is a waste of time in those if you’re not into the overloaded-with-starch totally synthetic American breakfasts moderate chain hotels seem to serve in the US.

      • Geoggy says:

        The Piccadilly and Central lines are easy to get to from there.

        Jump on an E3 from West Ealing Broadway to Northfields- less than 10 mins.

        Jump on 427, 207, 83 to Ealing Broadway for Central line – again less than 10 mins but could be more with traffic.

        There are a couple of decent independent restaurants around the area – so easy to avoid the chains!

  10. Cupoftea says:

    I stayed there a couple of weeks ago and can confirm that normal rooms have much smaller, although very nice, bathrooms. My room had a more standard (non wet room) walk in shower.
    You also get free breakfast, it was perfectly OK, only a few hot items, but nice enough.

  11. Chris says:

    HIX Newcastle City Centre has had the refresh. It has kept the old fixtures such as the desk and headboard etc so it looks a little odd with the new colour scheme and bedding.

    Glasgow Riverside is being done at the moment – both are managed by the same group

  12. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    That selection of magazines is a bit narrower than it looks at first glance!

  13. Harry says:

    It is not that cheap and there is no point redemption availability for the whole of 2016! For me the lack of a proper desk and the need to find a long extension lead is a killer. Despite being an IHG Spire, I would actively look for another hotel now if a refurbished HiEx was the group’s only option. Am I alone in actually liking the current HiEx style of room?

    • Would fully agree. I often use HIX for business trips and need to work in my room. Despite being IHG Ambassador Spire I might well have to abandon HIX for alternatives that have a proper place to be able to work at.

  14. Sebastian says:

    I am glad HIX is getting an update as I’ve been disappointed with those I’ve stayed in, whilst the majority of the Hampton’s I’ve stayed in I’ve always been statisfied with. So hopefully, they’ll get pulled up to that standard.

  15. Imbruce says:

    Just stayed at the Crowne Plaza Stephenson. Quarter, the room was nice and big, bed a bit to hard,
    soft pillows,nice shower room with a very big shower. Very modern as is the hotel itself. It was a Deluxe Queen Bed room
    Great breakfast
    Things that let it down:
    Bright light coming from the Mini Bar all night
    Bad sound proofing, you can hear the trains and also other guests when the come in the early hours from the clubs. They talk loudly and bang into everything
    Did not know there was coffee making facilities until check out apparently the stuff is in a drawer
    Very expensive with breakfast not included although you can pay £9:00 per person per day at check in, £16:00 per person on the day
    Lots to choose from for breakfast and you can make it to take away with you disposable bags and cups are provided. They even have yummy healthy smoothies.
    Coffee let it down: from the machine the cappuccino is weak and the coffee in the pot the staff brin you is bitter.

    • Raffles says:

      I had a problem at the Hilton Heathrow T4 with light coming from the mini bar, I think I unplugged it in the end.

  16. Thunderbirds says:

    The refurbishments of HIX from the old brown themed rooms to the blue themed rooms have been ongoing for a number of years. This looks like a minor variation on that theme, or is it just some artistic flair from that particular hotel owner!
    I think the blue rooms are functional but effective (HIX T5) though the breakfast arrangements at some can be chaotic at busy periods (HIX Dunstable).
    Try the Holiday Inn Garden Court near Bedford if you really want to go back in time

    • This is, officially, the first hotel with this design model so I expect others to be very similar going forward.

  17. “The TV is a Smart TV. This is the first time that I have seen one in a hotel as far as I can remember.”

    You reminded me of a stay in a south coast Travelodge where the TV was fixed to the bracket by some kind of industrial bicycle chain/lock.

  18. Fenny says:

    For me, the biggest requirement of the television is an HDMI socket, so I can plug my laptop in and play Amazon Prime/Now TV etc through it. There are still hotels with old CRT style tellies which have no inputs, or flat screen with no HDMI in.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Agree its the HD TVs with no usable HDMI that really disappoint

      • Must say I was very impressed at a recent Hyatt Place stay in California – nice big HDTV with a full breakout set of connectors on the side of the unit below it – VGA, composite, HDMI, the works! Very nice. Decent breakfast spread included too – can see why HIX are upping their game.

        Have got a HIX San Francisco stay from tomorrow – booked on the 20k/night rate mentioned earlier this year which was a total steal :) Will be interested to see how it is, US HIXs generally been better than UK ones from my previous experience.

  19. Geoggy says:

    Middle of nowhere?! Londons queen of the boroughs! Outrageous comment ;0)

    • William says:

      He’s got a point…if you’re from out of town 😉

      If you are staying there i’d thoroughly recommend a trip to Persian Palace for some outrageous portions of kebab and rice.

  20. Fenny says:

    Not sure whether you think this is a kind or an unkind review.

  21. Raffles says:

    In the context of what?

    This is not a hotel review per se, more a design review, and the photos tell the story. Not funded by IHG in any way!

  22. jovanna says:

    OT: Curve card – ‘Make sure first purchase is Chip & PIN’ When does the PIN arrive? Have I set it on the App at some point? I really can’t remember as it was so long ago when I applied for the card.

    • blenz10 says:

      when you activate the card in the app the PIN is displayed.

    • yip, the app will give you the pin.

    • Alex W says:

      When you first set up the card in the app, there is a screen which pops up with your pin. You have to re-enter it to make sure you remembered it. If you’ve forgotten you may need toe ring them up.

    • jovanna says:

      Cheers. I probably know what I entered. I’ll give it a go in the morning.

  23. “Free breakfast for everyone”… Didn’t IHG get in to trouble for describing the breakfast as free?! I thought it was technically an included breakfast.

    Anyway, it looks great (the room, not the breakfast). I really like holiday inn express hotels, I don’t even mind the quirky bathroom/toilet door. The new design looks even better. Happy.

    • Yes they did. Legally they cannot call the breakfast free because no-one is charged for it. One of the more bizarre ASA verdicts!

  24. William says:

    I have to say the ‘wet room’ looks superb for what it’s worth. Wet room, Waitrose, 4 trains per hour and Persian Palace nearby. What more does one want?