BACKGROUND The hotel underwent some light renovations in December 2009 as part of Holiday Inn’s brand-wide refurbishment. Updates included a new choice of hard or soft pillows in the guestrooms, the introduction of a complimentary hot breakfast and a general refreshing of the bathrooms, workspaces and hotel lighting.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? As part of the Holiday Inn Express rebrand, staff went through customer service training, and it certainly showed on my visit. When I arrived, there was a problem with my reservation (i.e. there appeared to not be one). Staff were polite, patient and incredibly helpful, so the mix-up did not take too long to remedy.
The lobby has a few handy facilities for travellers such as a vending machine if you’re in a hurry, weighing scales for luggage (£1 allows you to weigh five pieces) and a departures and arrivals board for Luton airport.
WHERE IS IT? The hotel is a great option for early morning flights since it is the closest of all hotels in the vicinity to Luton airport. The bus links aren’t even a necessity, just walk to the pavement in front of the hotel, head to the underpass, and you will spot the planes lined up to your left and the terminal straight ahead.
ROOM FACILTIES The 147 rooms spread across five floors are fairly basic, but are perfectly kitted out for business travellers, with triple-glazed windows ensuring a sound night’s sleep, a work desk with ample space and tea- and coffee-making facilities. The room had an orange colour scheme and crisp white bed sheets, with the choice of pillows a welcome plus. There was 32-inch flatscreen TV with some satellite channels, space to hang clothes and power points at the desk.
The bathroom was fairly sparse and simple, but clean and with enough space. There was a non-branded soap dispenser by the sink and in the shower, and there was a small hairdryer. Sofa beds are available in some rooms for families, but otherwise it’s a choice between a double or a twin room. I opted for a double, which looked out over the car park. Wifi is available, with fees starting from £4.95, though it is free in all the public spaces.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There is one restaurant, the Great Room, which doubles up as a dining and drinking area, with sofas and round tables. When I headed for dinner at around 8pm the area was packed with families heading out on holiday the next day and groups of business travellers. A bar is located alongside reception, where guests can order drinks and dinner.
The menu consisted of a choice of soup or antipasti to start and several classic pub meals to choose from for a main. There was also a choice of three white wines, three red and two rosés. For dinner, I went for the chicken tikka curry (£12.75), which came with rice, naan, poppadoms and mango chutney. The portions were generous and the meal very tasty.
In the morning I did not feel like having breakfast as I was heading out on a very early morning flight, however the dining area was already filling up. Options included a hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausages and beans, or fresh fruit, cereals, Muller yoghurts, cheese, juice and pastries. Toast and cereal are available from 4am.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There is a 24-hour business centre offering a PC, fax machine and photocopying facilities. For meetings, there are seven rooms all with natural light and wifi access on the lower ground floor. Three of these are syndicate rooms accommodating up to eight delegates each, boardroom-style, while the other four are larger spaces, with the biggest hosting 56 people theatre-style.
LEISURE FACILTIES There are no leisure facilities in the hotel.
VERDICT The hotel is in the best location for Luton airport, at a comfortable, quiet spot. The food is homely and the service very amenable.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 147 rooms split between double and twin categories, with some doubles turning into family rooms with the inclusion of a sofa bed.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The triple-glazed windows ensured I had a good night sleep this near the airport, and the new bedding was comfortable.
PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in March start from £111.
CONTACT Holiday Inn Express London Luton Airport, 2 Percival Way, Luton, LU2 9GP; expresslutonairport.co.uk