On a recent trip to Melbourne, I was in a quandary about hotel location: I was arriving into town late, but had an early start in the city the next morning. As frequent travellers know, the Skybus from the airport is a rort and a hassle, and the connecting hotel buses don't run to a schedule and frequently fail to turn up, while staying at the airport and getting stuck in morning traffic didn't appeal either.
After a quick check, the Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders turned out to be a well-located option, but the website showed a fairly dated hotel.
So, naturally, I went along to figure out whether this is the perfect hotel for business travellers in just my situation: late flight in, but with early meetings.
Location & Impressions
The Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders isn't technically on Flinders Street -- the door is half a block up the hill towards Southern Cross station, and opens out onto Flinders Lane.
The location is seriously convenient, even if you're hauling luggage, especially if you don't want to stay at the airport.
The friendly and efficient staffers quickly had me checked in and heading up to my room.
My one-bedroom King corner suite is one of the standard upgrades for high-status Priority Club frequent guest members, a hotel staffer told me, and a fairly spacious upgrade at that.
As you enter, the bedroom and bathroom are ahead, with the main living/working room on your right. Everything's Australian Holiday Inn standard: corporate, in good nick but not exactly exciting. The decorative highlight is a grey-blue wall in the living room.
Since the living room is oddly shaped given that the corners of the hotel are rounded, it's a bit of a squeeze to get all the furniture into the room. There's the slightly odd situation of having two desks: one in the living room, and one in the bedroom.
I found there to be just a bit too much furniture in the room: there doesn't feel like there's really enough space to get past to the desk if someone's watching TV.
The round dining table is also a bit odd, feeling like a bit of an afterthought and stuck in the corner of the room. A larger table here, combined with mounting the TV on the wall, could have made the room feel much more spacious.
I thought the bedroom was a good size, but the logic of having a second desk instead of (say) an armchair or chaise longue escapes me. Top marks for a full-sized suitcase shelf, though.
The bathroom was tired and soulless, with nothing to liven up a 1980s-beige sink area and tiling. Toiletries were the standard Holiday Inn ones (bring your own if you're in the slightest bit picky), and the shower was over the bathtub. Overall, the bathrooms are in need of a refurb.
Power points, too, are elusive and few. The hotel could usefully take a leaf out of its Sydney Airport sister and provide a power strip at the desk.
With two desks in the room, you're spoilt for choice on where to work -- useful if you and the other half are on a business trip together, mind.
My tip: if it's a sunny day and your laptop is one of the ones with a reflective screen, pick the one in the bedroom. The living room is light and bright, but that comes with a bit of an unfortunate glare problem.
Wifi in the hotel is relatively fast -- 13Mbps down but only 0.6Mbps up -- but it's unfortunately the awful Reivernet rort that I've previously called one of the worst ripoffs in travel.
Your 24-hour connection costs $22.50 for the first 300MB at full speed, then it slows to a trickle. You can pay 10c per MB to boost the speed again, but only to 1GB. Extortionately priced and a real ripoff.
Dining in the hotel was slightly below the usually fairly decent Holiday Inn standard. It's the same Sirocco concept you'll see in other Holiday Inns, but I found it a bit stodgier and heavier than I'd had elsewhere.
Breakfast was the usual buffet, boosted by an outstandingly good coffee machine (seriously, whatever this one is, it's as good as some decent barista brews I've had).
The corner suites come with your choice of armchair or sofa, which are actually quite comfy despite their blocky appearance, making them above average for hotels in this price bracket.
There's a very small gym with equipment that feels about five or six years old, plus a rooftop pool that's good for doing a few lengths.
And if you like to unwind by doing your washing, there are convenient guest laundry facilities inside the hotel. Always useful if your trip gets extended.
Of course, you're also right on the edge of the Melbourne CBD, so a brief walk will bring you to a few good spots to chill out of an evening.
The rooms feel a bit tired and in need of a refurb, but the Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders does the job if you're looking for a mid-range hotel in Melbourne. I wouldn't go out of my way to stay here again, but the location is convenient and everything's efficiently corporate.
Our reporter was a guest of the hotel.