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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.)
Down in the lobby, there was also a fresh new look. Here is the dining area:
…. with a rack of free magazines to read:
…. and an all-day coffee machine (tokens bought from reception):
…. and a lighter, brighter bar:
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.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)