Brian and I generally choose to stay in a Holiday Inn Express when we travel. As part of the IHG portfolio, we’re able to enjoy our IHG One Rewards membership benefits through this hotel brand, as well as 16 others. We find Holiday Inn Express hotels accessible, consistent, and convenient.
It’s not a luxury brand, but rather a comfortable, mid-priced accommodation that is perfectly adequate for our needs. Brian and I tend to choose this hotel over others due to its complimentary hot breakfast, simple aesthetic, and unfussy standards.
So when we booked our flights to Melbourne, Australia and found a Holiday Inn Express close to the Yarra River in a walkable neighborhood, we didn’t think twice about making a reservation.
To maximize our savings, Brian and I booked our 5-night stay using reward points. As an IHG Rewards Credit Cardmember, I receive IHG’s 4th-Night Free award. This awesome perk means that for every 3 nights I book with reward points, I receive the 4th-night at no cost.
|Note: The IHG Rewards Credit Cardmember 4th-Night Free benefit is only awarded for stays of four or more consecutive days booked solely with points.|
I only had the option to book a Queen Standard room. Ordinarily, this would have been totally fine for us. However, we were traveling for a special occasion. We ultimately decided to e-mail the hotel to ask what the cost would be to upgrade to a King Standard. A manager kindly responded that she upgraded the reservation at no extra cost on account of my membership status. It was such a nice surprise!
5-Night Stay: Cost 142,000 IHG Points for a Queen Standard Room ($757.85 USD value)
We were looking forward to settling in after a long day of travel. Not only were we excited to be staying in a walkable central location, but we were also very grateful for the surprise upgrade. I’m happy to share that the Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank exceeded our expectations.
Check-in was a breeze! At this point, it was technically 6:15AM EST back home, 16 hours behind our arrival time in Australia. It had been a while since we had driven on the left, so driving on the other side of the road in the dark had left us both worn out and a little stressed. Once we arrived at the hotel, Brian and I were relieved that we could pull into a designated driveway rather than have to search for a place to park.
Upon entering the building, we were directed to the lobby located on the 7th floor.
The receptionist was warm and welcoming as she informed us that we were placed in their best room. After a quick overview of the amenities, Brian and I thanked the receptionist and headed out to park our car in the hotel’s dedicated parking garage (AUD 35/night with key card access).
Top Floor, Room 2223
To access guest room floors, a key card must be scanned in the elevator. This is a feature that we appreciate, though don’t encounter often.
Located on the top floor, Room 2223, much to our surprise, had no shared walls.
Clean, modern, and spacious, this upgraded room provided us with:
- A comfortable king-sized bed
- A separate seating area
- Blackout shades
- Cozy, relaxing lighting
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Google Chromecast integration
- Mini refrigerator
- Electric kettle with coffee and tea options
Brian and I had enough space to put away our things, store some groceries, and still have a nice, clean room. We opted out of housekeeping during our stay in exchange for bonus IHG Rewards Club points.
The location of our room provided an especially quiet setting. We rarely saw other guests. In fact, most of the hotel was quiet during the length of our stay. All in all, Room 2223 provided an incredibly comfortable and relaxing space to retreat to from the city streets.
A Word to the Wise: Frosted glass walls separate the bathroom from the rest of the room. The bathroom itself features an open concept with a singular glass door that can either swing towards the shower to separate the shower from the toilet area, or the door can close the entire bathroom off from the rest of the bedroom. Either way, this design creates a lack of privacy that might be an issue among other travelers. Luckily for us, part of the wall separating the bathroom from the bedroom included some drywall.
Honestly, the buffet breakfast kind of blew us away. It was considerably different than the standard Holiday Inn Express fare offered in the States. We’d make our way to breakfast as soon as it opened to escape the morning crowds. It was a great and filling way to start the day!
Breakfast options included:
- A variety of hot options – scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and baked beans
- Toast with different jams, butters, and Vegemite
- A range of sweet and savory pastries
- Fresh fruit and yogurt
- Cereal (including Weet-Bix!)
- Gluten-free options
Beverage offerings were great, as well. A range of fresh juices, milk, water, coffee, and tea were provided. We also discovered a Hot/Cold water dispenser that proved wonderfully useful for keeping us hydrated throughout our trip.
Frankly, breakfast time was one of our most looked-forward-to treats every day. It was such an enjoyable and peaceful way to kick off our mornings.
The hotel’s 7th floor features a sleek, open-floor concept and is home to reception, dining, and more. It offers plenty of seating in the form of lounge, dining, and meeting options. While one side of the floor caters to the breakfast and dining space, the other offers a convenient and stylish bar and social area.
Brian and I did not visit the 24-hour bar, but noted that they had all kinds of spirits and drinks available at reasonable prices. They even offered daily happy hour specials. If we had more time during our stay, we might have enjoyed ourselves a beverage out on the terrace.
In addition to plenty of seating inside and outside, this area also features a video wall (think oversized big screen tv) and table tennis.
A limited fitness center is available to those wanting to keep active. Brian and I opted out of the gym and stuck to walking around the area.
Situated in Melbourne’s Art Precinct, the Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank is less than a 10-minute walk from the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Arts Centre Melbourne, and the National Gallery of Victoria. It is located south of the Central Business District and in close proximity to many of Melbourne’s vibrant and renowned restaurants and bars.
Brian and I loved the walkability of the area. The Southbank Promenade, a pedestrian and cycle pathway along the Yarra River, is one block away from the hotel. It’s lined with a number of restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops. From the Southbank Promenade, we’d cross a pedestrian bridge towards the Melbourne city centre.
We spent our time venturing through Chinatown, Little Italy, a few museums, and beautiful parks and gardens. Melbourne’s green spaces are a striking and welcome contrast to its city surroundings.
Brian and I found the city infused with dynamic energy, existing like most other major cities we’ve visited. However, we did carry a fondness for Melbourne’s accessibility, considerate drivers, and overall clean community.
Melbourne, truly, must be the cleanest city I have ever visited.
Would we visit again?
If Brian and I travel to Melbourne again, we would definitely stay at the Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank. It provided a relaxing place to rest and unwind during our trip.
Based on location alone, this hotel offers tremendous value and convenience. Add to that its complimentary breakfast buffet, comfortable guest rooms, and great customer service, and it’s easy to see why we’d choose to stay here again.
The Holiday Inn Express Melbourne Southbank is a fantastic place to stay if you’re in Melbourne, Australia, and looking to explore the city for a few days.