Well, I never intended re-writing reviews but I’ve got two this month for you. The first is our recent visit to Holiday Inn Gatwick Airport, which I think deserves a mention due to a very nice renovation.We stay here as it is 5 minutes drive to the terminals by taxi, at a very reasonable £6, and it gives us peace of mind when flying out of Gatwick that we are close by and don’t have to worry about early morning dashes (we live 3 1/2 hours away) or getting caught up on the M25. Why fly from Gatwick? That’s another story.
The first thing that hits you is the slightly more spacious and brighter reception, although I have to say it hasn’t increased the check-in speed. We must have been lucky as we checked in relatively quickly but half a hour later they were queuing back into the restaurant and I could see why – the three receptionists have so much to go through, including now the computerised parking system that you have to complete, even if you have pre-booked long stay parking. The various questions and information seemed to go on for ever, and really after a 4 hour drive (30 mins stuck on the M25) all we want to do is check in, get the keys and go and chill. And I think a few of the other guests felt likewise. I know they have a fixed script they have to go through, but honestly they need to streamline check-in much more.
The next thing you notice is the new corridor carpeting, in the new Holiday Inn colours I presume. On our corridor it didn’t seem to have been fitted too well at the edges, but I’m sure it will bed down. A few wall hangings wouldn’t go a miss. Sort of reminds me of a scene from “The Shining”…
Entering the room was a treat – they look so much fresher, brighter and vibrant, with new fittings, colour schemes and a “love it or hate it” geometric style bedding. I have to say it works very well for me.
I would have possibly gone for a slightly larger TV to give a more executive feel to the room, giving the size of the nicely illuminated backboard.
Our room is normally on the back facing the car park, but this time we were overlooking the front, and despite the proximity to the road, we found the room very quiet.
The bathroom had also had a very nice makeover, giving it a much more luxurious feel than we had been accustomed to previously.
The only slight disappointment was the bath, which I think might be the original and didn’t quite have the same new shine than the rest of the fittings.
But overall a very nice refurb. I think they have definitely brought the hotel back up to the standard of quality you might expect from the Holiday Inn chain.
For some reason there was a “No Housekeeping” notice on our bed but we were hardly concerned, as ours was a single night stay and the room was immaculate on arrival.
Unfortunately, you can take a refurb a step too far and the restaurant has fallen foul of this. The hotel used to have two dining areas, a bar style area with booths and a nice, quiet traditional restaurant to the rear, where you could relax for the evening with a nice meal and a bottle of wine, almost not noticing the other guests. And between the dining areas and reception used to be a comfortable lounge area.
Some clever bod has decided to merge all three areas into one large cafeteria style area, with fairly basic seating and tables, very open plan, reaching right up to the windows. There certainly isn’t the opportunity for quiet dining. We were sat between two tables for two, with little space between us, and unfortunately easily able to overhear both conversations at once. I was sat on a strange bench seat that was so deep you had to lean back at 45 degrees to rest your back on it, meaning that I had to sit upright for the whole of the meal with no back support – very uncomfortable.
The menu and food quality wasn’t as good as previous visits, we had a bit of a moment with a waiter who wouldn’t accept a wine voucher without a printed copy, even though the voucher (emailed from Holiday Inn I might add) said in big words “Just show this to the waiter”. We eventually got the free wine after the staff had to have some internal discussions, and when it arrived it was fairly gross and we didn’t touch most of it.
Overall, the service was slow, not overly friendly and not a patch on previous meals. Despite its obvious convenience, we will certainly be considering having a ride out to see what else is in the locality if we stay again.
So, a big thumbs up for the upgrade in the main hotel, but the restaurant is a definite home goal and the reception experience really needs some attention – focus on the main aim to the guests quickly in their room, rather than wasting time with all the upselling.