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Great location for exploring Edinburgh
Holiday Inn Express
Member Name: steedandpeel
Holiday Inn Express
Advantages: Location, standard of accommodation, helpful staff
Disadvantages: None in my experience
Last summer we didn't get a chance to go away on a proper holiday, but we did manage to get a couple of breaks, two nights in Dublin and 3 nights in Edinburgh, both of which were really appreciated. The Holiday Inn I will be reviewing is the Edinburgh City Centre hotel, in Picardy Place, Edinburgh.
We booked this online via the Holiday Inn Express (HIExpress) website at a cost of £89 a night for the two of use. We thought this was a fair price, considering the central location of the hotel and the time we booked (last day of August/beginning of September) which meant we were there for the last day of the Edinburgh Festival.
The hotel is located to the north east of the city centre, near The Mound and opposite the Playhouse Theatre. It is a number of beautiful Georgian buildings converted to a hotel (no doubt extended somewhat to the rear). We decided to get the train to Edinburgh, and once we'd found our way out of Waverley Station, the hotel was a 5 min walk (downhill), which was very convenient.
Check in took about 2 minutes and we were swiftly directed to our room on the 4th floor by way of a handy lift. The room was relatively spacious, very tidy and spotlessly clean. It was pleasantly, although blandly decorated, which is what you would expect from this type of hotel. It had a double bed, a sofa, desk and tv, tea and coffee making facilities and a fan. Pretty standard fare really. There was also information about what to do in Edinburgh in the room, which helped us plan our days. We found the bed to be extremely comfortable and slept well every night we were there.
The bathroom was very clean, but only has a shower, which was fine for us, but some people may miss a soak in the bath. Complementary toiletries are included in squeazy bottles and are Lux branded. The hotel also provides disposable flannels, shower caps and soap. The power shower was great, much better than the one we have at home. However, the bathroom was internal with not much ventilation, so it took a while to de-steam the room after showering.
Our room faced to the north, away from Picardy Place and Leith Walk. As we were located at the top of the hotel, our view was quite nice; in the foreground were typical city centre commercial buildings, but beyond we could see down to the Firth of Forth, and even the Forth road and rail bridges at a slightly oblique angle. Being in a city centre location, there was some noise from revellers etc quite late into the evening. However, as we're not usually early to bed type people, this didn't disturb us too much and it certainly didn't prevent us from getting a good nights sleep. You would expect some sort of noise in a central location anyway. We didn't have any road noise though, which was good considering the location. We also noticed that the sound proofing between rooms was good and we never heard any of our neighbours.
A continental breakfast was included in the price of the hotel. This was not particularly inspiring, but there was a relatively good choice and it enabled us to fill up in the morning, so we didn't need a big lunch. Complementary newspapers were provided at breakfast which was a nice touch.
The breakfast was served on the mezzanine of the bar area. On our first evening we had a quick drink in the bar before going to bed. It was quite smartly furnished and comfortable with friendly staff. However, as is the nature of hotel bars of this type, it was devoid of atmosphere.
Another facility we made use of in the hotel was the ice machine. I would love to have one of these, and although it is very Americanised, it is a useful feature which stops you spending a fortune on chilled water in the vending machines dotted around the hotel. Internet access was available via computers in the hotel lobby. We didn't make use of this as the price was shockingly expensive. I can't remember how much now, but I think it was in the region of £10 per hour! We hadn't taken our laptops due to our train journey to get there, so I can't comment on whether wi-fi access was available or how much it was.
The hotel staff were all very friendly and helpful. They were happy to replenish our tea and coffee making equipment when asked. We also opted for express check-out to stop us rushing for the train. This was smooth and took a couple of seconds.
The hotel is ideally located for exploring Edinburgh. The New Town, The Mound, George Street and Princes Street were all within 5 minutes walk of the hotel. The Old Town was about 15 mins walk, with Holyrood and Edinburgh Castle being about a 30 mins walk. As we are young and fit, we opted to walk everywhere, which was easy to do. However, we noticed buses going past the hotel frequently, so it would be easy to hop on one for longer journeys. We decided to take a taxi to the station when we left as we had been hitting the shops and stocking up on shortbread and our bags had just about doubled in weight (and it was raining and uphill). There is a taxi rank just opposite the hotel in front of the Playhouse Theatre and it cost us about £5 to get to Waverley Station.
One of the highlights of our stay was the fireworks display put on for the last day of the festival. As we were in the city by chance on this day, this was completely unexpected, but amazing. Fireworks were raining down the walls of the castle in all different colours, set to a backdrop of live classical music. It was the best display I have ever seen and completely free from vantage points around the city. Afterwards, we turned the tv on back at the hotel and they were replaying the whole event, so we watched it again!
I see from the HIExpress website that there are two other HIExpress hotels in the city; one is in Leith to the north of the city, on the waterfront and the other is in the Old Town. I would imagine that the standard of accommodation would be similar to the Picardy Place hotel. As the hotel we stayed in was a converted older building, the main entrance is via steps. However, I believe there was a step free entrance for people with mobility problems. There was also a lift to all floors to enable inclusive access.
I was pleased with our hotel. I didn't find it too expensive considering the location and the time we booked. I imagine you could find cheaper accommodation in the city, but I can't vouch for the standard that this would be. We booked relatively late, but I would also imagine the Holiday Inn does have deals you could book in advance and promotions for a cheaper room.
HIExpress is a relatively standard product, and could be described by some as bland and soulless. However, I am quite picky about accommodation, as I like it to be clean and comfortable. Therefore, I find the benefit of a standardised type of accommodation is that you know what to expect in advance. Your holiday will not be ruined by dirty sheets or unexpected hairs in the bath. Therefore, I am more than happy to choose HIExpress, as it certainly delivers a good product - and it's so much nicer than a Travel Lodge!!!
Summary: Excellent hotel in a great city centre location
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