On my recent trip to Australia, I stayed at two hotels at the very opposite end of the spectrum; the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane Central, and the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. The difference between them couldn’t have been more stark, and not in the way that I was expecting.
I had booked one night at the Holiday Inn on IHG points, which at the time was on their PointsBreak offer, exceptional value at just 5,000 points for the Saturday night.
It’s a brand new hotel and I have to say I was very impressed with the overall value for money (or points) and the standard of the accommodation.
The room was modern, as you’d expect, not the largest, however as an IHG Gold (the lowest elite tier) was given a high floor with a great view of the city. On both sides of the bed were USB ports and regular plug sockets for charging devices. There was a large flatscreen Samsung TV with breakout ports for plugging in HDMI by the side of the desk.
The bathroom had a walk in shower, but no bath, which I infinitely prefer to having to step in and out of a bath.
The wifi was free for all guests, with a strong signal across the hotel and very fast. Certainly enough for watching Netflix at HD quality.
Also, being a Holiday Inn Express, breakfast is included in all rates. There was a great selection of pastries, cold meats and cheeses, fruits and cereals. There was also a hot section with scrambled eggs, sausages, beans and bacon. A selection of fruit juices with glasses that weren’t thimble sized, plus also a beans to cup coffee machine that made a really great cup.
I asked for late checkout to 14.00 on the Sunday and after a few taps, got a “no problem sir, we can give you later if you want?”.
Overall, I was very impressed – the hotel completely exceeded all of my expectations and would have no hesitation about going back in the future. Even at the normal rate of 15K points, it’s cracking value.
Lets contrast the HIX with my experience at the Sofitel in Melbourne which is billed as one of the top hotels in the city, and is the highest tier brand in the Accor portfolio.
The Sofitel is clearly an older property. I paid about A$620 for three nights, that’s about £365 in total, booked directly via the Accor website.
Check-in was quick and efficient and was allocated a room on a high floor. The photo at the top of this post is the view. Got to the room and looked for somewhere to charge my phone. There wasn’t a single USB port anywhere in the room. Worse than that, there wasn’t even a plug socket next to the bed. On either side.
I travel normally with my laptop, an iPad and my iPhone. In 2017 having nowhere to plug your devices in is completely unacceptable, let alone for a luxury 5* hotel. No HDMI breakout ports were available, leaving me rummaging around the back.
There was a lovely Bose clock/radio next to the bed, but it had a CD player and no USB port or Bluetooth, meaning it was impossible for me to play any music on it. It was simply a very large, totally useless clock.
Being on holiday, I decided to to relax, so when in search of a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi or pool. Unfortunately, the hotel has none of them, there’s just a small gym.
Wandering down to the concierge, he confirmed this was the case and suggested going over the Pullman. Being too late and having evening commitments I passed. The next day, I decided to go, and walked the 20 minutes or so through the park to the Pullman (there was no offer to take me in a house car).
I arrived at the hotel which was clearly under extensive renovation and said that I was here to use the facilities. They couldn’t find any male locker keys so suggested I left the majority of my stuff at reception – which I duly did.
Walking through to the facilities themselves, the pool was outdoor and pretty cold. The jacuzzi thankfully was inside and quite pleasant. The steam room wasn’t steamy in the slightest. The sauna at least was hot, but the floor was utterly filthy with ingrained dirt all over the floor and walls. It was totally disgusting.
I walked out, informed the staff and walked back to the Sofitel. I also dropped Clive Scott, the General Manager an email informing him of my disappointment.
The reply was lacking in every sense. No apology, no offer of service recovery, just thanking me for my constructive feedback.
I suspect that’s why the hotel is lacking of such basic amenities in 2017 – with a GM that clearly doesn’t care about resolving the issues of guests.
In summary, the Holiday Inn Express Brisbane – completely awesome.
The Sofitel Melbourne (and the Pullman) – avoid like the plague.