Hotel Review: King Suite at the Holiday Inn on Flinders Lane (Melbourne, VIC)

The Holiday Inn hotel chain has undergone a staggering amount of changes over the last decade, taking it from a budget hotel/motel chain that most people associated with overnight stops along highways or airport layovers, into an upmarket full service – though reasonably priced – group of hotels that focus on comfort and quality of stay, appealing to business travellers and families alike. For any brand, this sort of turnaround is nothing short of impressive.

Though, having grown up through the years where the Holiday Inn chain was attributed with a more budgetary style of living, it still never ceases to surprise me just how upmarket the brand has become, while still maintaining a lower price point. For instance, the four star Crowne Plaza down the road in Melbourne, also owned by parent company IHG, goes for about $225 a night, while the HI sits close to $170, even though it’s also a four star hotel – and I daresay that the amenities between brands wouldn’t be too dissimilar.

In Melbourne for a night last month, I was lucky enough to be placed in the King Suite, which is essentially a one bedroom apartment, minus the kitchen. The spacious bathroom and King bedroom are accompanied by a large living room area, with couches, TV and dining table. The comfortable bed was provided with – as is popular amongst many upscale hotels around the world – a variety of pillows with different levels of softness and firmness, and a menu to order others based on your preference, all encouraging as much comfort as possible during the stay, be it for business or pleasure. And indeed I was provided with a sleep I had no desire to wake from.

Given the space I had available to me, I made full use of the room, inviting the band goodbyemotel (a name somewhat appropriate for the brand) to perform an acoustic session for the AU sessions (during the day, of course – and you can watch that HERE), as well as the AU review Melbourne contributors for a brief meeting. This then moved down to the Sirocco Bar where we enjoyed affordable beers and a menu that offered a wide range of cuisines. I treated myself to the steak sandwich, which featured a generous helping of the steak itself and some delicious chips. Filling indeed.

Looking at the other dishes that were enjoyed by the AU crew, the fish and chips were quite popular, as was the curry, confirming this was a well balanced menu featuring generous servings and ingredients of high quality. Though you’re probably going to pay a few more dollars eating here than at some of the nearby bars, you’re still getting incredibly good value for it.

The Sirocco Bar and Restaurant was also home to the morning’s breakfast buffet, which featured all the trimmings you’d expect from an upscale hotel. There was an omelette bar where a chef made you a fresh omelette based on your specifications – one of my personal favourite breakfast buffet touches. The fruit, juices and cereals were plentiful, as was the choice for bread and pastry. And as for the hot food, there was everything from eggs benedict to baked beans, sausages, bacon, mushrooms and all that you’d ever need at 9am.

The hotel also features a gym and a pool which I unfortunately didn’t get the chance to try out (even though they are open later than most), as well as a business centre, laundry facilities, wireless internet and six meeting rooms that cater to a variety of requirements. As is now synonymous with the brand, all you could need from a hotel is included in the building, and with shops and a train station just a short walk away, it’s also the perfect location for your next trip to Melbourne.

Find out more about the hotel here: http://www.ihg.com/holidayinn/hotels/us/en/melbourne/melsf/hoteldetail

This article was originally published in June 2013 for our Food and Lifestyle section. The writer stayed as a guest of the hotel. All information was correct at the time of publishing.

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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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