For my most recent trip to Bali, I booked a stay at the Holiday Inn Express Baruna Bai to meet the requirements of the IHG Rewards Club Accelerate promotion – and despite its mediocre location, it turned out to be a positive surprise with nice rooms and great service. If you need a hotel close to the airport and the beach, the Holiday Inn Express Baruna Bali is a good value option!
Location: The HIE Baruna is located close to the airport (10 minutes taxi, 20 minutes walk) and very close to the beach, just passing through the Holiday Inn Resort next door! The beach is not that nice though, it isn’t cleaned as well as in Kuta or Legian, there are plenty of rocks and boats tied up in front, making it less of a fit for families with small kids. You can reach the main beach at Kuta via a paved boardwalk in about 15-20 minutes. Along the beach and the road are a few independent restaurants, shops and massage places.
This location works best if you have a short stop-over before or after a flight and want access to the beach, without being in the midst of Kuta!
Service & Rewards: While I have high expectations for service on Bali, the HIE Baruna still did better than expected. The staff greeted me warmly at check-in, thanked me for my IHG Rewards Platinum status and went out of their way to assign one of the nicest (standard) rooms in the property, on a high floor and with an ocean view no less! They provided helpful information, but there was no welcome amenity or points offered.
Housekeeping did a nice job and each day cleaned the room thoroughly and timely. Staff at the pool had pool towels on hand. The restaurant staff did especially well, making the best out of a tough situation with large tour groups overwhelming the breakfast room in the morning. When they saw my disappointment over the empty buffet on the first morning, they saved a plate of various pastries on day 2 for me and brought it to my table when I arrived – that was by far the most attentive staff I’ve ever seen at a Holiday Inn Express and puts many much more expensive hotels in Europe or the US to shame!
The hotel also had a simple, yet effective to the noise created by rowdy tour groups – signs in the hallways and near the elevators reminded guests to be quiet and it worked remarkably well!
Room: My standard room was clean, modern and large enough. It had tiled floor, dark wood furniture and blue color accents as well as large artwork over the bed.
The queen-size bed was comfortable and the bed features a narrow desk with chair.
There is an open closet for your clothes, a bench for your luggage, as well as a wall-mounted TV, an empty mini-fridge, a laptop size safe and tea/coffee facilities.
The bathroom has the toilet to the right, a sink-in-countertop with plenty of space at the center and a large walk-in shower to the right. The shower has a blue glass brick wall to the bedroom for extra light and the bathroom door doubles as shower door – a nice idea, if a little akward in this case due to the size of the door. All of it felt new, was clean and well maintained and in good working order.
Among all the new Holiday Inn Express I’ve stayed at in Asia, this was one of the most generous ones. The free WiFi internet was one of the fastest on Bali with an average speed of 11.6Mbps. Even though it varied greatly from 5 to 32 Mbps, it was always fast enough to do work or stream video.
Amenities & Restaurant: The HIE Baruna has a beautiful and bright lobby that feels a lot more spacious than most hotels in this category. On the same level, you find two computers and a printer, as well as a room with washer & dryer, great if you want to do some laundry before traveling onwards!
There is a small gym with cardio and weight equipment, enough for a basic workout.
The pool on the rooftop is beautiful, with an infinity edge, plenty of loungers, tables and chairs to hang out and a grand view over the Holiday Inn Resort in front and the ocean beyond! Some of the chairs are under a roof, so you can escape the sun and beach towels are available.
The restaurant serves the always free breakfast in the morning and has a mix of bar stool, bistro and booth seating next to the lobby and open air, with the buffet served in an air-conditioned room.
It was not sized appropriately to handle the tour bus crowds. It was difficult to find a clean seat during rush-hour, staff had a hard time to keep up and the buffet would run out of food items long before the end of breakfast. That was partly caused by unreasonable behavior of guests leaving mountains of uneaten food behind on their plates.
Fortunately for me, the staff noticed my disappointment and (maybe due to my Platinum status?), saved some pastries for me the next day and brought them to my table – while it saved my breakfast and was exceptionally attentive service, the hotel still needs to adjust for all guests. The selection was standard for Holiday Inn Express and the quality of the food items was average for hotels in this category.
Bottomline: For a price of $47/night, you get a nice room, great service, some of the fastest internet on Bali and a free breakfast, all just a short ride from the airport and steps from the beach. You also get better amenities than I’d expect in this price category and earn IHG Rewards Club points, making it an overall good value. I’m not a fan of the location, but it can work well for anybody who is looking for a short stop-over near the airport with beach access. It’s the best of the budget IHG hotels on Bali and I’d stay again without hesitation!