Searching online for accommodation in Phuket is overwhelming! After chatting to a few people I decided I wanted to be in the heart of the action – Patong. The Patong beach area is the touristy centre of Phuket. It has the (busy) beach, the shopping and the infamous nightlife in and around Bangla Road.
I’m no party animal, I wanted to be within walking distance of Bangla Road but far enough away to be able to sleep peacefully at night.
After LOTS of research, I decided to go with the Holiday Inn Express. It was unbelievably cheap, seemed to have a good location and had great reviews on Tripadvisor.
I booked through the Holiday Inn website. I emailed before arriving just to confirm our booking.
Bangkok Don Mueng Airport to Phuket
We traveled with Air Asia from Bangkok’s Don Mueng airport. Tip for Don Mueng – don’t get caught by seemingly helpful people who want to give you a map of Phuket. They just want to sell you tours. Anyway, the flight was about an hour to Phuket.
We took a shuttle from the Phuket airport to Patong. It wasn’t pre-booked, we just walked out of the airport and went to one of the many stalls. The shuttle was cheap but please don’t waste your time. Rather get a private transfer, it doesn’t cost much more and you will save an hour.
Holiday Inn Express -check in
Hip, trendy, affordable. You get more than you’d expect – in most aspects.
The reception area is well designed. Green,airy, wood and hints of purple – modern and welcoming.
We arrived around 9pm. Tired, hungry and sweaty. Thankfully, check in was fast! As soon as they took my passport, the friendly hotel receptionist read back my requests to me that I had mentioned in an email (pool view and on a higher level) and that’s exactly what we got. They had a personal touch, I didn’t feel like “just another tourist” (which can be rare in Patong!).
I was surprised when there was no bellhop to take up our luggage and guide us to our room (I had to remind myself Holiday Inn Express).
The walkway to the room could do with a good paint and some maintenance. It seems the flooring they used was not the best for a beachy/wet environment.
Apart from the tired carpet and damp air smell, the room was well designed and thought out. It’s a fairly new hotel and comes with all the modern comforts (and some extras). There’s a bar fridge, sitting areas in the room and on the balcony, a drying rack outside (perfect for a beach holiday), plenty of towels (and extras are available at reception – if you go early), a cute coffee and tea station with a good assortment of coffees. The bed was comfortable and had firm and soft pillows. There were plenty of plugs on both sides of the bed and also a TV with a USB port so you can use the TV to play music or look at your (millions) of photos. They also gave extras like a toothbrush, toothpaste and slippers. Really amazing amount of features for a budget hotel.
Back to the damp smell in our room – when we first checked in I was adamant that I was going to change rooms but it was so late that we left it till the morning. After the aircon was pumping all night, the smell vanished never to return again so we left it.
We had an incident with the bedding. On our first morning at the hotel, I found a mark on the top side of the bedding that was hidden by the runner i.e. it wasn’t a mark that we made. To request a change of bedding, you need to leave a sign on the bed. I did that and later found the mark was gone. However, when I wanted to go sleep that night, I found that the side with the mark on had been reversed so that we wouldn’t see it (i.e. the mark was now hidden on the inside of the bedding). I was livid and complained and they sent someone to change the bedding at 11pm at night. I felt bad but I refused to sleep in bedding I requested to be changed. The staff member changed all the bedding and surprise, the new washed bedding also had a mark on it! He changed all the bedding again for a second time. I think the hotel needs to invest in new bedding as although it might be clean, some of it is stained.
The pool is fabulous. Although it is fairly small and shallow (1.2m), it was always the right temperature (warm although not heated) with plenty of photo worthy opportunities around the pool. I remember seeing people swimming in the pool even when there was a downpour of rain, the water is an amazing temperature.
Near the pool was the kiddies pool that featured outdoor showers (in the pool) and outside of it, large couches to dry off on & bathrooms that never had anyone in it. I loved taking a dip in the pool after swimming at the beach. There were also lots of shady spots along the pool and beach chairs that were never full. Given that the hotel is a 2 minute walk to the beach, the pool actually gave good competition to Patong Beach. That’s not to say that Patong Beach isn’t great – it is. The pool was just great too.
The wooden planks around the pool need maintenance and I would love to see another rail to hang on when getting into the pool as it can be a bit slippery.
One of the cool things about the Holiday Inn Express is that the breakfast is included at no extra charge. On our first day that we went to get breakfast, we were a bit confused as no one seated us or told us where anything was. It’s basically completely self-service. It was fine, if not a little chaotic. They had a nice assortment of food. I loved the coffee machine.
I inquired about the laundry service as I read on Tripadvisor that they had a self-service laundry. The receptionist explained that they do normal standard laundry and that we can use the self-service which costed THB100 for 10kgs and another THB100 if you wanted to dry your clothes. That’s pretty cheap. It does take some time though (45 minutes for the wash and 45 minutes for the drying). There was usually a point in the day when we would sit with our tablets/phones and chat to people back home or catch up on emails etc. We figured we’d just do the normal and wash our clothes in that time. We also took a walk and had a drink at the cafe down the road while waiting so it didn’t feel like time wasted.
I also asked whether it was possible to store my luggage at the hotel after checking out as we would be going to Phi Phi Island for 2 nights and the receptionist was more than accommodating. I expected to be charged but all she said was “just come back to fetch it!”. In the end we decided to take our luggage with us but it’s good to know that they allow for it to be stored.
The hotel, while not directly on the beach (most hotels in Patong aren’t) is a quick 2 minute walk to Patong Beach. I found that area of the beach to be cleaner than some of the other sections of Patong Beach. The water was salty and there were a few waves. The water was not crystal clear but it was clear enough for me to find a USD 20 lying on the ocean floor! We paid THB200 for 2 mattresses and an umbrella although it appeared overcast – it was really hot!
There are 2 convenience shops about a minute walking distance of the hotel. Definitely saves you a few bucks!
Bangla Road was about a ten minute walk away. Most nights we would check out the shops and get a bite to eat around Bangla. We felt safe walking but most of the time we were home around midnight.
I enjoyed my stay at the Holiday Inn Express. I liked the location, decor, the other guests, the family friendly environment and mostly, the pool. I think you get a lot more than you bargained for at the Holiday Inn Express but in some ways – a bit less in terms of basics. The lack of general maintenance is a pity as no matter how hard the staff works to give good service, there isn’t much that they can do about the maintenance. The wood around the pool area needs to be treated quite badly. It’s almost understandable that the condition of the wood would be bad given the extreme weather (humidity and very heavy downpours). Some of the walkways could do with a lick of paint. The rooms need to be aired and that carpet in the room has got to go! Despite these things, I loved the Holiday Inn Express and would go back in a heartbeat.
Holiday Inn Express Phuket Patong Beach Central