On a trip to Melbourne recently, I needed to be within striking distance of the airport at Tullamarine, so stopped off at the Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport, a fixture of the business travel circuit.
Unlike Sydney Airport, Melbourne has hotels within walking distance of the airport terminals, so I was keen to see how it measured up.
Location & Impressions
From Melbourne's joint domestic and international terminal precinct, the Holiday Inn is a five minute walk through the rental car parking area or around on the paths. (Note that there is some fairly intense construction work going on, so be prepared for detours.)
It's an easy walk with a single rollaboard carry-on, but if you've actual luggage you may prefer to ring the hotel to send their shuttle bus on the two-minute journey to pick you and your baggage up.
The hotel itself is a retro three-pointed tricorn shape, with three wings pointing out from a central spine that contains check-in, the lobby and the lifts. It looks like a 1960s pile from the outside, but the lobby is pleasant enough (if somewhat dim), while the rooms are in good nick.
I was welcomed by the friendly and efficient staff -- who continued to impress throughout my stay -- and was quickly on my way up the top floor.
Since I had a number of one-on-one meetings at the airport, the spacious top floor suite I was alloted was perfect for my stay, with a separate table for meetings, a comfortable lounge area and a guest bathroom.
The door opened onto a foyer with a well-equipped desk. From there, it was forward to the living room area, left to the bedroom and main bathroom, or right to the second bathroom, kitchenette and dining/meeting area.
In size terms, the suite was essentially three regular hotel rooms joined together, and the decor was comfortably corporate with grey tones over a warm red carpet rather than swanky.
Inside the spacious bedroom, the 2009-refreshed Holiday Inn standard king bed (with mattress pad and choice of pillows) was joined by a pair of grey armchairs and a decently sized flatscreen TV on a shelf unit.
While the power point situation was a little odd (two on the floor nowhere near the TV, for a start) both bedside tables came with power points, though you'd need to unplug the bedside lamps.
One of the bedside tables also came with an iPhone alarm clock charging dock.
Between bedroom and bathroom was one of the largest wardrobe-with-changing-areas (and, potentially, a storage area for conference material and so on) I've seen in a hotel room.
The main bathroom was a little underloved, with corporate grey-beige and fluorescent lighting. On the plus side, the shower head was well-powered and came on the end of a handheld shower wand.
Across the suite, the expansive walls of picture windows were remarkably well insulated, and noise from the airport (or the start of the Tullamarine Freeway) was never an issue.
Since the suite is a great option for informal meetings at Melbourne airport, the living room and dining/meeting rooms are remarkably useful. The sofas and armchair will seat five easily (or seven if you're close friends running a startup), and the dining/meeting table will seat six.
The dining area also comes with a CD player in an entertainment unit between the kitchen and guest bathroom, although I couldn't figure out a way to hook up my laptop or MP3 player to it (no 3.5mm Aux In cable or socket, in other words).
A kitchenette with microwave, a fullsized fridge, kettle and a small minibar selection is off the dining/meeting area, with lots of space but not a whole lot of things to fill it.
So you'll probably rattle around inside it unless you're on an extended stay. Still, a very useful option if your meetings run late and you order in some dinner.
The desk is a decent size and feels pretty corporate, with a comfortable chair and good task lighting. Alas, there is only one power point at the desk, and with various bits of desk furniture on it there's not a huge amount of room for your own stuff unless you clear off the desk. (However, there are no drawers to put things away into.)
Internet is restricted to the awful Reivernet system that I have grown to detest, for all the reasons I outlined in our review of the Holiday Inn Sydney Airport. Bring your own access via a cellphone data plan, wireless dongle or "mifi" style 3G-wifi router.
The Internet speed (I used the wired connection through my own travel wireless router) was 4Mbps down and 2Mbps up -- a speed that would be just okay if not for the frustrations of the Reivernet connection.
The Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport punches well above its weight for food, both as an airport hotel and as a Holiday Inn.
The restaurant downstairs did a seriously well cooked piece of steak, and room service was equally tasty. It's not haute cuisine, but it's good food, cooked well and served by friendly and efficient staff in a light and bright restaurant overlooking the pool. The wine is also very well-chosen for a midrange hotel, with some choice drops on the list.
Breakfast is a wide-ranging buffet with particularly tasty sausages, omelettes to order and decent coffee (despite being from a machine).
Apart from chilling out in the suite, there's an outdoor pool, small fitness centre and a lobby bar in the hotel.
Since it's a walkable distance to the terminal, you've also got all the delights of the airport on the doorstep. (That includes the "anytime access" Virgin Australia lounge, which doesn't involve passing through security, if you're a Velocity Gold or Platinum member. http://www.ausbt.com.au/photo-gallery-virgin-australia-s-new-melbourne-airport-lounge-now-open)
The Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport looks a little 1960s from the outside, but its rooms and facilities exceed many other Holiday Inns in Australia, punching well above its brand weight.
All in all, it's one of the best Australian airport hotels around.