A recent business meeting required me to spend one night in Bakersfield, and after reading several unfavorable reviews of this property on Tripadvisor I was a bit reluctant to stay there. Fortunately, I did and was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. This property is set back a few blocks from Hwy. 99, and you do not hear the freeway. The other HIE property (I believe it is called Bakersfield Suites) backs up to the 99 freeway. So very happy I didn't select that one with all that noise & pollution.
Currently, the hotel is undergoing a rather massive renovation, and from the looks of some of its' old furniture and wallpaper it clearly needed it. However, I requested and was given one of the renovated rooms and found it excellent. The hotel is being renovated with new redesigned interiors that are more modern and contemporary and look great. My room was large and spacious, with great linens and towels, and a new flat screen 32" (or possibly 40") TV. Room was quiet and comfortable, and the construction crews were more than gracious. In fact, a couple of times when I was on the elevator and it stopped at one of the floors under renovation I heard a crewman say 'guest' and they waited to use it so they wouldn't bother me. So except for seeing the contractors and some of the debris outside of the hotel, the construction did not bother me. And I did not notice any additional noise. The floor my room was on had already been renovated (4th floor), and it was great and looks great.
The lobby is almost done, and the breakfast room was finished and looked great. Typical HIE breakfast buffet spread which is always nice and welcome. The pool area was clean and comfortable, and there was plenty of free parking. The hotel has a small gym, which has already been renovated and it was perfect. Brand new equipment (treadmill, bike, and stair machine) and stretching area with weighted balls and dumbbells (5-50 lb.). Very small but very functional.
Several reviewers commented on the fact that this hotel is located near train tracks (which it is) and that this was bothersome. I only saw one train during my stay, and it was only because I was in the parking lot and could see it. Otherwise I did not notice any noise from the train tracks. If you are concerned about train noise I would suggest you request a room facing the rear of the hotel which faces away from the train tracks.
I had a great stay at this property. But if a little mess, and the idea that it is not 'finished' bothers you, I would suggest you stay elsewhere until it is finished (which should be late this summer I believe). But if you can tolerate a little bit of dust, you'll find a friendly, comfortable, and nicely 'redesigned' Holiday Inn Express.