“ Ibis Hotel in central Bratislava, Slovakia. „
Last time we stayed in Bratislava, back in 2003, we arrived at our pre-booked hostel to find they didn't have any record of our reservation. We were recommended something cheap but further out of town and as a result we didn't see as much of the city as we'd have liked. Nine years on we wanted to make sure we were close to the main sights in order to cram in as much sightseeing as possible; it turned out to be a good decision because we arrived late due to a delayed flight and lost a whole evening. I'm not a particular fan of Ibis Hotels but when I was booking the parent group Accor (Sofitel, Etap, Mercure and others fall under its umbrella) were running an attractive promotion and I was also able to get a pretty high rate of cash-back (from Topcashback.co.uk - please message me if you would like a link) as well as collecting a few points on my Accor loyalty card. You'll rarely find any real character or style with an Ibis hotel but, at least where the Bratislava hotel is concerned, you get a clean and comfortable room, and a good location and all of this for a very reasonable price for a capital city. The Ibis Bratislava Centre is just two minutes from the old town, and ten minutes from the iconic Novy most or Most SNP. It is situated just below the city's castle and is a five or ten minute taxi ride (depending on the time of day) from main train station. It's a ten minute taxi ride to the other large train station at Petrzalka from which place trains head west. If you don't want to use taxis or have more time to spare, it's easy enough to get to the stations by bus, tram or trolleybus. We arrived much later than we'd anticipated but we were expected and given a polite welcome, though it could hardly be described as friendly. Our first impression was marred slightly by the handful of guests smoking right in the doorway of the hotel; smoking is not permitted anywhere in the hotel but the smell of smoke does drift into reception because people simply won't move away from the doors. In reception there is a small bar and a handful of tables; you probably wouldn't use this area as a bar to sit in, you'd more likely buy a drink to take to your room. There's a PC with free internet access for guests though wi-fi access is now free in all rooms (on which more to come). Our room was on the first floor and card access was needed to access the corridor from the landing. Unfortunately it was a heavy door with a push bar which made a terrible noise when left to slam closed; it was possible to pull the door and close it with less noise but clearly nobody gave a second's thought to the people in the room nearest the door (us!). The room was not large but, devoid of furniture, neither was it cluttered. The room was as bland as I've come to expect from an Ibis hotel but there are two points worth noting. First the floor was laminate, not carpet; I think this is great because it means there isn't the potential for ponginess you can get with old carpet in a hotel room, and also because it just looks more modern. The other thing was the bed linen; on first glance it looked like there was a coffee coloured runner across the bottom of the bed but actually it was printed onto the quilt cover, which is better, in my opinion, because it makes bland bedding look more interesting, but you don't have that thing where you have to find somewhere to put the runner if you don't want to wake up to find it on the floor. Possibly every known television station in Europe was available if you are crazy enough to want to travel all the way to Slovakia and stay in watching television. We were unable to connect to the wi-fi and mentioned this the next morning as we went out for the day. The receptionist was hardly apologetic and questioned whether it could be our computer that was at fault. She did however, when pressed, say she would speak to the person in charge of IT. When we returned mid morning to pick up jackets we tried again and found the service still unavailable. That night when returning to the hotel it was still not possible to connect; the story was the same the next morning. We complained again to the receptionist on duty who did not apologise and told us that we were the only people that had complained. When we pointed out that this was a facility that had been unavailable to us for the duration of our stay, he shrugged and said "Well it is free" (which I took to mean, you can hardly complain about not getting something you haven't actually paid for; which I hope readers of this review will agree is a very poor attitude). Customer service is not the forte of the staff of this hotel. Although I will generally re-use towels in a hotel, the ones here were minuscule and soaking in no time at all so I dropped them in the shower tray to request fresh towels. When we returned late in the evening we had no towels at all. Himself went to reception to ask for new towels and reported that his request was fulfilled, albeit with indifference, and when he requested a fresh bathmat as well as the towels, he detected a quiet "tut". We didn't take breakfast in the hotel but as we had to walk past the breakfast room we could see that it looked like a light and airy room, well maintained like all of the hotel's public areas. As you would expect from an Ibis, facilities are limited so this is the sort of hotel that is ideal if you intend to spend all your time out exploring and don't expect things like a gym or a pool. One thing that was nice that I have never seen in an Ibis hotel before, was a a book exchange shelf. My rating of the hotel is a combination of the facilities and the condition of the room, with the level of customer service. Had the staff been more friendly and helpful I'd have certainly awarded four stars; however, I would also add that much as I like visiting Slovakia and that I have some wonderfully warm and hospitable Slovak friends, I find customer service in Bratislava generally lacking and this hotel was not unusual. The Ibis Bratislava may not have the charm of many of the hotels in the nearby old town, or be as swanky as some of those in the new town, but the location is not bad and for the price we paid I was happy enough. We paid Euro60 for a Thursday and Euro50 for the Friday night, booking in advance. I used comparison sites when booking and found Ibis to be the cheapest option in the centre without looking at hostels which, in this city, tend to be quite noisy.