A Bali hotel best avoided – Holiday Inn Express Bali Raya Kuta

The Holiday Inn Express Bali Raya Kuta has large modern rooms as you expect from the brand in Asia – and the good news ends there. The service is terrible, the location is far from the beach and between two noisy roads and the tour groups frequenting this hotel are not helping it either and internet is so slow it is useless. There are not IHG Reward Club benefits either, leaving little reason for any independent traveler to stay here. Read my full review for the details why you should avoid it!

Location: The Holiday Inn Express Bali Raya Kuta is located on one of the main through streets, Jalan Raya Kuta, near Sunset Road. That makes it a favorite with tour groups, as the access for trips around Bali is much easier from here than from hotels near the beach. If you are planning sightseeing trips to the temples and lakes further North, it’s a good base and your driver will thank you for it!  But that also makes it a very bad destination if you want to go to the beach – it’ll be a 2km walk or drive, about 30 minutes either way! The Bai airport is also about 30 minutes away. There are not a lot of restaurants or stores in walking distance either, making it inconvenient for longer stays.

Service & Rewards: The service at the Holiday Inn Express Kuta was the worst I’ve experienced at any hotel on Bali in the more than 15 years I’ve been coming here. At check-in, I confirmed my room preference (in my reservation & IHG profile) of a quiet-room, away from the elevator and on a high-floor – and staff confirmed it is indeed a quiet room. That was so far from the truth, it was mind-boggling! My room was on a mid-level floor, next to the elevator and facing the busy street! All night till about 1am, I had noise from people leaving the elevator and the loud & obnoxious “ding ding” the elevator would make every time it arrives on the floor. Add to that the road noise due to poor noise insulation of the windows and poorly behaved tour groups, and I didn’t get much sleep”! I walked around the hotel later, and this was easily one of the noisiest rooms in the hotel. To top it off, one of the tour groups assembled in the courtyard at 7:30 am and had a group session with the leader yelling through a megaphone – unbelievable!
The restaurant staff didn’t do much better and was not able to clear tables  or restock the breakfast buffet in a timely fashion. Housekeeping was the only one on top of their task – my room was clean, all supplies stocked appropriately and in good working order.
There was no recognition of my IHG Rewards Club Platinum status – no preferred room or upgrade, no welcome amenity or any other recognition. The front desk staff seemed to be unaware of the program. It appeared that their sole focus are tour groups and few independent travelers find their way here!

Room: The room was the highlight of the stay – it’s the typical layout and equipment you’ll find at Holiday Inn Express hotels in Asia, this time held in light wood with green as an accent color. The room was slightly bigger than usual, with a large desk and work chair as well as a soft chair in the corner. The room was fully equipped with a TV, coffee/tea facilities and a safe.

The bathroom has a glass window to the bedroom with blinds, my favorite set-up that makes both the room and bathroom feel bigger. The walk-in shower had a full glass wall and door and a standard, movable shower head. The sink-in-countertop offered plenty of space for your toiletries. The towels are of good quality and a full set of standard Holiday Inn Express bath amenities was provided.

While the free WiFi internet measured an average speed of 5.2Mbps, it was only fast for short periods – most of the day and evening, the speed was less than 1Mbps, making it useless for streaming video, phone calls or even web browsing and email!

Restaurant & Amenities: The hotel has a large pool, surrounded by the hotel on three sides and facing the road on the other. It’s landscaped nicely with trees separating from the road for a peaceful enough setting, with plenty of loungers.
There is also a small gym with limited equipment for a basic workout.

A nice addition is the laundry room, so if this is a stop-over on a longer trip, you’ll be able to take care of your clothes!

The restaurant was much too small for the size of the hotel and the tour groups it’s serving. It was so crowded that I couldn’t find a seat on my first attempt, even in the “overflow” area in the lobby. On my second attempt, I did find a table, but nearby tables were still covered in dirty dishes and food.

The buffet breakfast was the sadest breakfast I’ve ever seen at a Holiday Inn Express. While it met the brand guidelines in terms of the selection offered, it was the cheapest way to meet those minimum standards: A small selection of tiny, tasteless pastries (what you see in the photo is it!), tiny, mostly brown bananas, a few pieces of water melon, a cold salad – that was it. There should have been some hot dish, but it appeared to have been out.

Bottomline: The Holiday Inn Express Bali Raya Kuta caters to tour groups and it shows. The service is terrible, my room was so noisy I didn’t get much sleep, the breakfast was bad and the internet slow most of the time. Even at the low price point of $40/night, there are so many better hotels on Bali, there is little reason for any independent traveler to stay here: If you just need a short-stopover, you can stay at the Hilton Garden Inn at the airport. If you want to go sightseeing, you are better off making Ubud your base. If you want to stay at an IHG hotel on Bali, try the much better Holiday Inn Express Bali Baruna! This hotel is a disgrace for the Holiday Inn Express brand and I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody to stay here!


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