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Your next Holiday Inn Express stay might be that much funnier—at least in theory—as the hotel chain has signed up comedian, actor, and all around funnyman Rob Riggle to shill for the brand. The humor—again, at least in theory—starts with his title, as from this point forward he will be known as Creative Director and Breakfast Excellence Honcho.
The partnership arrives as Holiday Inn Express launches a new contest, as they need a little bit of help to name their newfangled pancake machine. This month guests are welcomed and encouraged to send in suggestions on what to call the thing.
The other week we were pretty proud of ourselves for nabbing a brand-new hotel room in NYC at the Holiday Inn Express, Manhattan West Side (aka Hell's Kitchen) for under $200 a night, especially when room rates in New York were hovering around the $350 mark. Today, we're having a bit of buyer's remorse. While the rate was a good deal, the experience was marred by a few problems.
Here's what you should know:
· Loyalty Perks. Being a Priority Rewards Club member, we were given two bottles of water at check-in.
· Outlets. The room had a ton of outlets everywhere.
· Extra Toiletries. Housekeeping will deliver up any toiletries that you may have forgotten like a toothbrush and toothpaste. This was extremely convenient at ten o'clock at night.
· Friendly Staff. The hotel employees were extremely friendly and helpful, even when things didn't go as planned (See below.)
Manhattan Hotels / New York Hotels / Holiday Inn Express / Hotel Openings / Hotel Rates / Hotel Deals / AAA Card / → All Tags
Read all about our stay right here
If you're looking to visit to Manhattan this summer, you're probably in disbelief over the room rates. We mentioned the truly outrageous ones last week ($700+ for a Sheraton) but we're also seeing some non-spectacular, chain hotels going for at least $300 a night. If you want to stay two or more nights, that's going to be at least $600, not including taxes or WiFi charges. And thanks to a recent court ruling, you can't even use AirBnB.com anymore to try and score a cheap room in the Big Apple.
While our 5 fave hotel booking sites can help us get the best deal, they can't lower the rates to the price point we like/need--which is about $200 a night, before taxes. But after some digging and throwing some caution to the wind, we found a room for just under $200 a night in mid-June at the just-opened Holiday Inn Express, Manhattan West Side.
Located at 48th and 10th Avenue, the hotel is firmly in the old Hell's Kitchen nabe but it's ideal for folks who have business or leisure plans in and around Times Square which is about four big blocks away. We've stayed in the area before, at Ink48 (which is sold out the nights we are visiting), and it's not the most exciting neighborhood in Manhattan but we're hardly going to be in our room at all. And besides, we didn't pick the hotel because of the neighborhood.
Hotel Openings / Manhattan Hotels / Hotel News / Hotel Constructions / Marriott Hotels / Hilton Hotels / Andaz Hotels / Courtyard by Marriott Hotels / Holiday Inn Express / → All Tags
New York, get ready. If you were at all excited by the hotel openings in 2011 (Nolitan, Hyatt 48Lex, Mondrian Soho, Flatiron Hotel Toshi, and many more), then you're about to freak out. Bloomberg News is reporting on how hoteliers like Ian Schrager are snatching up development sites like hot cakes, favoring the development of new buildings rather than the rehabilitation of old ones, and generally just going hotel crazy. Schrager himself has bought one plot already, and hopes to purchase a second this year.
Sure, the income potential for hotels in NYC is high, but will we really need another 120 new properties by the end of 2014? Soon hotels will have outnumbered Starbucks! Of the many facts and figures referenced in the article, one in particular stood out to us: the country's woeful 9% unemployment rate, which many say will continue well into 2012.
Nothing says fresh breakfast like a pancake machine?
UPDATE: This picture from a tipster was actually taken at a Holiday Inn EXPRESS which will not be getting the new social hubs. Long story short, the pancake machine lives! Thanks @Expresser24 for pointing this out.
Pancakes slide out on a conveyor belt off to the side "in about a minute." It's not exactly homemade but if you have a hankering for pancakes on the road, we guess it will do.
As for the new Holiday Inn breakfast offerings, the first place to get it will be the Holiday Inn Gwinnett Center in Atlanta. After this, the rest of Holiday Inn's 3,000+ hotels worldwide will start to roll out their new social hubs which aside from better food will include a tech concierge, a 24/7 Grab 'n Go market, a video gaming area, a bar, a modern dining area and in some cases, firepits with cabanas. Pancake machines not allowed.
The Holiday Inns and Holiday Inn Expresses in the UK are offering monsters-in-law, er, excuse us mothers-in-law 25 percent off at their hotels from December 23-29 as a way to give everyone in the family a reprieve from her incessant nagging about your culinary skills, your "expensive" lifestyle, your unwillingness to visit her more often and the real reason why your kids are acting out.
Considering that Holiday Inn is one of our picks for the worst budget brand hotels in Europe because they are so "bland and boring," we think this is a fitting punishment for "Mom." Who knows? Maybe she will like it.
There's no word on how you can prove she is an actual mother-in-law but if you and your spouse bound and gag Mom and drop her off at the front desk, we're sure that will qualify her for the discount. Merry Christmas!
This just in, dispatched from a tipster road warrior who is currently traveling across the country visiting different baseball stadiums (how cool is that?): there appears to be a Holiday Inn Express in Cleveland, Ohio with absolutely ridiculously large rooms. The Holiday Inn Express Downtown Cleveland, specifically.
He sends this snapshot over to us, along with this description:
So far, I've talked to four different employees and all have been fantastic friendly and polite. The room itself definitely seems like a value, given the square footage (or, more accurately, the cubic footage, given the super-high ceiling) and the fixtures. I'm normally a no-frills traveler, but I do enjoy feeling like I'm in a nice place as opposed to a run-down motel.
This bad boy goes for exactly $125.34 this evening, and we're totally impressed with space and the hardwood floors. There's also a desk that wouldn't fit into the frame here. Apparently, the hotel is actually inside a 19th century historic Guardian Bank Building and was renovated in 2004.
Another pleasant surprise from the budget chain that seems to be turnin' heads this year.
[Photo: T.J. Ryan]
When we discovered there was a Holiday Inn Express Dubai Internet City, we thought the hotel chain was just using a clever gimmick to draw in guests. But no, there actually is a real place called Dubai Internet City. According to its website:
Dubai Internet City is a strategic base for companies targeting emerging markets in a vast region extending from the Middle East to the Indian subcontinent, and Africa to the CIS countries, covering 2 billion people with GDP $ 6.7 trillion.
Ok, so that's a little too much business and geek-speak for us to understand but naturally all these companies heading to Dubai Internet City are going to need a place to stay. In comes the Holiday Inn Express.
The Holiday Inn chain of hotels hasn't always been known for bonuses like a complimentary hot breakfast bar and occasionally clean pools; no, they used to be real dens of iniquity, serving almost as petri dishes for staph bacteria.
The heyday of their seedy reputation came in the late 1990s, when the term "Holiday Inn" was slang, referring to any cheap motel for unsavory activities regardless of hotel brand. Mentions in popular rap songs, including "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang and the more recent "Holiday Inn" by Chingy, dug a deeper hole for the hotel chain and their image dropped to an almost unsalvageable low.
Up in northern England in the town of Hull, some of the locals speak with a dialect that's a bit hard to understand. But don't let that stop you visiting--the Holiday Inn Express Hull has produced a handy English-to-Hull translation guide so you'll be able to get what you're after.
The current manager is Dutch and had a few problems of his own understanding the local lingo when he first arrived. Now he knows that an arfa larga is a half glass of beer, that bains are children and if someone shouts Gerrof! at you they want you to leave them alone.
Some of the locals are upset about the guide but we can definitely see the usefulness--we've been making such guides ourselves, like the Uganda hotel vocab lesson--that of the sleeping beer. Thumbs up to Hull for contributing to the linguistic wellbeing of hotel guests.
[Photo of "nowtinnit" (empty) room: robinhood_x]
MSNBC Travel columnist Amy Bradley-Hole published a super-interesting piece on hotel advertising called "Why Hotels Should Shutter Ad Campaigns." Essentially, she argues that hotel ads are outdated and sort of worthless these days.
To some extent, we agree with her: many of the ads for the big-chain hotels on TV are kind of lame (alright, outrageously lame) and follow the pretty people/fluffy beds formula (example: Hampton Inn).
But on the other hand, it might be unfair to say that all hotel ad campaigns are outdated.
A couple of the points that really stuck out to us:
Business travelers are told where to stay. Companies have always made "bulk" contracts with hotels -- the more rooms a company books a year, the cheaper the rate.
We say: true! It's tough for Joe Employee to choose where he gets to crash on business trips.
A recent column by Slate magazine advertising critic Seth Stevenson offers critique of the newly-launched TV advertising campaign from Holiday Inn Express and the brand's new "hot breakfast bar" initiative.
In the TV ads viewers get to feast their eyes on the chain's new breakfast bar offerings, as a group of male hotel guests feast their eyes on an attractive young woman across the dining room.
Hoping to win her favor, the group opts to buy Ms. Pretty Young Thing a complimentary breakfast food item and begin to argue about which item she would prefer.