For my first stay of my Iberian Explorer trip I picked the Holiday Inn Express Ave Liberated for its central location. I generally like these select service hotels with their focus on nice rooms, an included breakfast and none of the services I’m unlikely to use anyway. Find out if it met my expectations as my first base in Lisbon!
Location: The Holiday Inn Express is located three blocks from the Marques Pombal Circle at the end of Avenida Liberdade, with access to two metro lines. It’s 30 minutes from the airport by train and 10-15 minutes to anywhere in the downtown area, including the various major train stations. That makes it a good location to explore Lisbon. You can walk into the Bairro Alto neighborhood with its many restaurants and bars in 20-30 minutes, doable despite the hills. While the HIX is located on a busy road, I had no issues with road noise in the well insulated rooms.
Service/Rewards: The front desk was friendly at check in, recognized my IHG Rewards Club Platinum status with a welcome amenity and had me on the way to my room quickly. They were helpful with a map and advice for the city and were responsive to an issue I reported when somebody spilled food/drink in the elevator. All staff spoke excellent English (and a few other languages) as most of the people I met in Lisbon! The housekeeping staff was also on top of their game and had the room made up quickly and nicely every day. Towels were replaced (or left for another use) according to their eco policy. Unfortunately, the staff in the breakfast restaurant was not nearly as good: One morning, the coffee machines weren’t turned on, one day they were out of milk, the other out of coffee. They were not replacing food quickly either, leaving you occasionally with empty plates. One guest raised them from their back room – service apparently on request only. You had to clear your tray yourself into a cafeteria style card – even for a select service HIX, that’s less service than I’m used to from other hotels of the chain!
Room: The room was just what I expect and like about Holiday Inn Express: Despite the hotel being in a beautiful old building, the rooms were stylish and modern, without being “loud”. They are decorated in grey and blue tones, with nice carpets, a big, comfortable bed, a small desk and a sofa bed to lounge or for extra people. There’s enough room for multiple luggages and a small closet, as well as tea/coffee facilities and a TV. Noticeably absent were a fridge and a safe, which you’ll usually find in an HIX hotel! The bathroom was equally modern, held in stylish black & white, with a large, glass enclosed shower and a round, white sink standing out from the black countertop . You’ll find nice, big towels, a hair dryer (in the bed room) and facial tissue. Soap & shampoo are provided via eco-friendly dispensers and they use less eco-friendly plastic cups! Other than the missing safe and fridge, the room provided a comfortable base for my stay in Lisbon!
Amenities/Restaurant: The hotel has a small bar in the lobby of the hotel. It’s pretty stylish, but despite the free welcome drink, I didn’t try it out. The restaurant for the included breakfast is in the basement and a lot less stylish – it looks and feels like a cafeteria. Similar to the service, the food was not quite up to expectation either: While most Holiday Inn Express around the world serve a hot breakfast, the HIX Ave Libertade serves an extensive continental breakfast. You’ll find cereal and yoghurt, as well as a broad selection of toast, bread rolls and pastries as well as some cheese, ham and turkey cold cuts. There are two espresso coffee machines as well as a juice dispenser. There were no eggs or other hot dishes and very little fresh fruit. The yogurt, jams and juices all tasted very artificial – not very good quality. The pastries and bread rolls were very good though, so I did not leave hungry.
The hotel doesn’t have a gym, pool or any other amenities, but there was a computer available for use.
Conclusion: Overall, the Holiday Inn Express Ave Liberdade is a good base to explore Lisbon and I would stay here again. My initial disappointment with the missing amenities and limited breakfast was put into perspective by my following stay at the ibis styles, which was much worse at the same price point (read my review here). If you are looking for a clean, modern room in a good location at a good price, I recommend to consider the HIX Ave Liberdade!