Sunday, February 5, 2012

UAE - Holiday Inn Express hotel, Dubai

Last October 2011, on  my way to Dubai from Abu Dhabi for an official trip I was told that I would be staying at Holiday Inn at Safa Park. I was a bit excited for I have known Holiday Inn as classy and trendy hotel and I would be enjoying its facilities for more than a week. However, I was also curious why it was called Holiday Inn Express.

Approaching Safa Park, Dubai, my neck was stretched for trying to locate any tower or structure that would indicate the location of the said hotel.

I was taken aback when our service vehicle stopped in front of a 5-storey building.

I never thought that Holiday Inn would have a budget hotel which was rated 5 star on the net. No more time to complain to our company coordinator; my company used to book me at 5 star hotels whenever I am on official trip or training. Hence, remember this guys, when you see the word "express" attached to any well known hotel brands, you should expect the same service, everything would be in express.

The reception female staff were nice but those two male staff though polite were obviously unapproachable. I even raised my voice once and after that incidence I had his attention whenever I transact business at the reception. He would entertain any "white" person first before me even if I came first. In addition, imagine being asked for a 200 Dhs deposit for use of room internet; they didn't have wifi. I had no choice since I need to be connected thus I paid the required amount. When my company has assured them that internet and laundry will be included on my room billing they refused to return my deposit. I don't need my 200 Dhs anymore on my last day in Dubai so I took grocery items such as juices and chips daily from their mini kiosks to be deducted from my deposit and I demanded official receipt for each item so I can refund them from my company. What a way to get even.

The lobby was gloomy and plain while the restaurant at the left side of the main lobby offers limited menu aside from free breakfast. I even had an upset stomach after eating fish from this restaurant. After that incidence, I went there for my daily breakfast and took my lunch and dinner outside. In fairness, the breakfast was above standard for a budget hotel. Different daily menu and several selections of pastries, fruits, jams and cereals.

There was a bar at the back of the lobby. Actually, it was a misnomer for the place was fit to be called as lounge. Two wide LCD TV in silent mode, few chairs and sofa and a small bar/counter. Remove the alcohol and the place can be mistaken as an airport lounge. I ordered my fav drink, vodka with tonic water double. A can of Schweppes tonic water plus two giger of Russian vodka cost me 56 Dhs or around 15 USD. It was a rip off considering that I can't reimburse my alcohol expenses from my company. That was the last time I went to that place. I asked my niece to buy me a liter of vodka from the shop. The 1 liter Absolute vodka cost around 80 Dhs only.

Well, about the room. See for yourself. I can find better room at KL and Bangkok for less than half of the price. I was told that our room cost around 100 USD per night with free breakfast excluding laundry and internet. 100 USD for a 5 star rated hotel? I was dreaming.

The wardrobe was laminated with wooden garnish. The design was awful for this hotel brand, I can see this lamination being used in cheap furniture in Manila. If this hotel is not attached to any 5 star brand I can simply say that this is another budget hotel in Dubai.

An old 21 inch TV, mini-ref and an electronic safe were creatively incorporated to the wardrobe.

The carpet was a bit grumpy and the couch has seen its days. The bed was comfortable. You have two different kinds of pillows, one was soft while the other was firm. That was the only trace of Holiday Inn inside that room, the tagged pillows.

Now we go to toilet. Toiletries? Bottled liquid body wash and shampoo. The same thing you normally find at hostel in Singapore. Those dated towels, small soap and confusing hot and cold water shower valves can easily weigh down on your expectations . At any rate, the toilet is being cleaned daily and dependable hot shower.


The amenities you will find in this toilet that traceable to a 5 star atmosphere are the wall phone and hair dryer. The wash basin was obviously mounted on a synthetic granite. Towels though fluppy were obvious to have seen better days.

On the plus side are the tea and coffee making facility, the wall lamp and the power sockets conveniently located above the table. No more groping underneath whenever I need power.

All in all, without the Holiday Inn brand, I would rank this as one of the best budget hotels I have checked in, price not included. However, at the same price, I can easily say that other lesser brands can easily outclass this Express hotel in terms of facilities and amenities.

By the way, I have seen another Holiday Inn Express hotel being built somewhere in Bangkok, Thailand. I believe It will find great competitors on this budget category in Bangkok.

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