On a recent trip to San Francisco, we visited friends in Mill Valley and needed a hotel closeby for a night. We chose the Holiday Inn Express Mill Valley, which has a great location by the bay and is one of the nicer hotels in the area. It was a recent conversion from a smaller chain and I was curious how it would stack up to other Holiday Inn Express that were newly built! Read on to find out what to expect!
Location: The Holiday Inn is just off Highway 101 on the road into Mill Valley. It’s sitting right on the bay, which makes for a nice spot, although at risk of flooding, so watch out for the advice posted in the hotel where best to park your car. It’s best to reach with a rental car and from here it’s a short drive into Mill Valley, to Mount Tamalpais or Stinson Beach and about 45 minutes to the wine country. The drive from San Francisco Airport is anywhere between 40 – 90 minutes, depending on time of day and traffic. There is free parking at the hotel.
Service: The front desk staff was friendly and had us checked in quickly. There was no recognition of the IHG Rewards Club Platinum status and there are no available room upgrades or welcome amenities. Housekeeping had done a thorough job cleaning our room – it was in good condition on arrival. The restaurant staff was on top of their task as well and kept the tables clean and food restocked throughout.
Room: Despite being a conversion (read more about conversions here), the room was very much in line with Holiday Inn Express standards: modern and held in light woods and beige/green tones, certainly less stylish than properties in Asia. The queen-size bed was comfortable and there are a small desk, closet and a single chair. While their are tea/coffee facilities, to my surprise there was no safe, which I’d expect at a Holiday Inn Express! The room was a little smaller than other US properties, but reasonable for 2 people. The bathroom had a traditional layout, with a shower-over-tub with a double-curtain on a curved rod and a sink with enough counter space. The towels and amenities were of good quality. There is free wifi available, but at a speed of only 1.1Mbps it is very slow, so don’t expect to stream video or get a lot of work done! Overall, despite being a motel conversion, the room was up to HIX standards and was fine for the price category.
Restaurant/Amenities: For a mid-scale hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Mill Valley offers quite a lot of amenities. There is a good-size outdoor pool. It looked a little desolate during our winter visit, but I’m sure it’s a lot more pleasant in summer. The hotel also has a small gym with cardio equipment and you can borrow bicycles for free, which should be a lot more fun than working out in the gym. There are great bike trails all over Marin, so it’s great to have these available!
If you are traveling with kids, you might enjoy the S’mores kits to use at the fire pit available at the hotel. If you have to get work done, there is a small business center with a PC and printer. And if you don’t want to drive anymore, there is an independent restaurant on the grounds.
As any Holiday Inn Express, you have access to a free, hot breakfast. You’ll get standard fare of fruits, yogurts and cereal, and pastries as well as eggs and breakfast meats. There are fruit juices, coffee and tea as well. All of it is of standard quality. The atmosphere was cafeteria style, but it’s a good start into the day before leaving the hotel!
Value & Conclusion: We paid $137/night which is great value in the San Francisco area. As an IHG hotel, you can use 30,000 IHG Rewards points as well, a value of $180, which I would consider decent value – it can be helpful when San Francisco is sold out and prices are sky-high.
Overall, you get a nice, clean room with a free breakfast, just as you can expect from Holiday Inn Express. The HIX Mill Valley stands out with their amenities: Free parking is a rarity in the Bay Area – you can pay more than $50/night in San Francisco, you get a pool and gym and I really liked the free rental bikes, even though we didn’t get to use them on our short stay. If you are planning to explore Marin County and need a jumping-off point for the wine country or the Northern Coast, the Holiday Inn Express is a good option and great value compared to hotels in San Francisco or Napa Valley. I’d recommend it and wouldn’t hesitate to stay again!