Our small family of three desired to getaway for a short trip during school vacation. We had planned to visit the Mystic Aquarium as well as the Olde Mystic Village shops. One of the largest variables for us and likely many other families is how much the lodging is going to cost and whether or not it will be "kid friendly". So to offer a quick review for those not interested in granular details, the Holiday Inn Express in Mystic was a very family-friendly facility and our family of three enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. The hotel met or exceeded all of our expectations. The facility appeared very clean and modern. Our son loved the pool and hot tub. Upon leaving today, my wife said she could definitely see us returning to this facility next year for a similar trip.
MORE IN DEPTH REVIEW:
As we pulled in to the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express, we were presented with a very large beautiful facility high up on a grassy hill the literally overlooked the village and aquarium. Our son said "Oooh, this hotel is fancy".
We arrived slightly before the actual 3PM check-in time. I approached the counter to ask if we could check in and at that time the staff explained that our room was not ready yet, which was to be expected. We went over and had a seat on the comfy couches in the beautiful, very large and bright lobby near the warm fireplace. As I sat on the couch I took in the huge cathedral ceilings and made note of the overall modern feel of the place. As we waited, there were some others waiting as well and we joked about the "magic 3PM" check-in time and the rooms would suddenly be available. Our 9 year old didn't mind the wait.. he was very entertained by the large dolphin water fountain out front. A few minutes after 3PM, we were called up to the desk to check in.
My wife uses a wheelchair. I had not specifically reserved or requested an accessible room. I was pleasantly surprised that the hotel changed my room type with an accessible room without my needing to ask. Upon entering the room, our son said "this is a really nice room". It was very spacious with two comfortable queen sized beds, a little coffee cabinet with fridge and microwave, a working table, a TV cabinet and a couch by the windows. The bathroom, being an accessible room, was quite spacious. There were grab bars in all expected locations and my wife felt safe. She asked me to mention that the space was great for her purposes. Again, my observations were that the majority of the decor and furnishings were fairly modern. Our room seemed very clean and there were no "funky" odors, etc. My wife also asked that I mention that she appreciated the fact that you could actually open the windows in your room to let natural fresh air in from outdoors.
The complimentary Wi-Fi didn't seem to work with the logon information they gave us. As I was about to inquire at the front desk, a notice was slipped under our door apologizing for any inconvenience and mentioned that the password was being changed and informed us of the new logon. This is evidence of a staff "on the ball".
My only two complaints about the room were that the card readers do a horrible job of reading the cards. It takes several swipes to maybe get your door to open. I heard the same issue from other guests. We even tried to get our card replaced thinking it was the card, but the same issue existed. Also, the shower head was mounted to a grab bar in the shower and had a lever that was supposed to lock it in place to prevent it from sliding down the bar vertically. The mechanism itself was pretty loose, which resulted in putting the shower head up high and then it'd slide down the bar and be too low to actually shower with. I'm quite positive this would've been resolved quickly by a member of the staff tightening it, had we called about it.
One of the major attractions for families when they travel with their kids is to have access to a pool. This was definitely one of the reasons we booked this hotel. We also appreciated, given the cool temps, that this pool was indoors. This isn't a complaint, but an observation. The pool at this facility is a very odd size. It is rather small, however didn't seem over crowded at all. The sign in the pool area mentioned that the occupancy limit for the pool is 20 people. I definitely think 20 people would be pushing it.
The pool is apparently a salt water pool from what I was reading, however the water at the "deep" end is approx 5.5ft deep. This was great for our son. My only issue was that the water was so cloudy that we had dropped his fluorescent multi colored goggles in the water and as soon as they began to sink, we couldn't see them at all. I'm not sure if the water is supposed to be as cloudy as it was. Also, beware, the pool is concrete and the floor is a little rough on the feet as far as the potential to scrape or scratch.
The staff was very diligent about keeping the towels stocked in the towel rack as well as draping towels over the backs of all the chairs. I even saw one of the staff spending lots of time cleaning the glass doors and windows entering the pool area.
The overall pool room could benefit very much from some interior lighting treatments different from what they have. Being indoor, it seemed a bit dreary when it wasn't very sunny outside.
Our 9 year old son loved loved loved the hot tub. He sat in it numerous times and leaned back in to the strong bubbles and said "Aaah, this is the life". I think that says it all!
OUTDOOR FIRE PLACE:
Yesterday the pool area was just too warm/humid for me, so I went outside and sat in one of the chairs around the outdoor / propane fire pit. The combo of cold air vs. warm fire was just the perfect balance and it was right outside the pool area. I considered this a "nice touch".
The breakfast offerings at this hotel were pretty decent. They had starting from left to right the following offerings:
*Fridge stocked with milks, butter, cream cheese, peeled hard boiled eggs and yogurts.
*A warmer stocked with trays of pre-packaged, but good (according to my wife) cinnamon rolls
*Another warmer with bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs (omelets the first day), biscuits (which my wife said were good) etc.
*A 4 slice toaster
*A multi-tier display with various fresh fruits.
*A cabinet filled with muffins, various types of bread and really thick / large bagels.
*A pancake making machine. I tried this just for novelty and the pancakes were actually decent.
The only item that I felt was really missing for breakfast choices was oatmeal. I didn't see a big pot or anything offering this.
This hotel has a fairly small fitness center. There are two treadmills, an elliptical, some hand weights, a ball, a TV, a scale, a water cooler with plastic wrapped cups and a towel rack. Our 9 year old enjoyed using the treadmill and lifted the hand weights a few times.
PROXIMITY TO VILLAGE AND AQUARIUM:
Distance wise, you can't beat it. The shops and aquarium are a stones-throw from the hotel.
This hotel is located very high up on a hill. My wife, as I mentioned earlier, uses a wheelchair. I wouldn't say that it's really safe to try and walk from the hotel to the shops, which are right across the street. Doing so involves traversing down the large hill driveway to an extremely busy road with several blind spots for oncoming traffic. The best way was to either go left out of the driveway and walk on a somewhat poorly maintained sidewalk and go all the way down to the traffic light and cross at the crosswalk and then walk back up the hill a little ways to the shops entrance. We were trying to be "fit" and decided to walk it but there was really no obvious pedestrian friendly ways to do this. If we took a right out of the driveway, it was another long sidewalk to another traffic light, which had slightly better crosswalks, etc.
One thing we found odd was the shops all close at 6pm. After checking in at 3pm, getting settled, doing some swimming, it was about 5:40pm and we went to the shops across the street. It was literally a ghost town. We checked out a few shops and planned to return the following morning. That obviously has nothing to do with the Holiday Inn Express though, just worth mentioning for any travelers looking for some general feedback about the area.
Don't try to check in before 3PM, especially on a school vacation week :-)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.