I stayed by myself one night: 8 January 2013. The purpose of my trip was to attend the Notre Dame-USF women’s basketball game. I arrived about 2:30 pm and was warmly greeted and checked in to Room #240. It is an older hotel and reminds me of the Holiday Inn layout from 40 years ago. I can imagine that my suite was once two rooms with an entrance from the parking lot for one room, and an entrance from the garden area for the other room with another bathroom where the sink area is located in the living room. Today, you enter from the garden area. The first room is a living room and has a sofa bed, a reclining chair, a desk with a large tv, a round table with two chairs, a bar area with a hidden microwave and small fridge plus a sink and ledge with coffee pot/supplies and ice bucket. I wish the big comfortable chair had been in a better position to watch tv but have no suggestion of how to rearrange furniture for such. There is a small lamp on the corner table with the phone, and a larger lamp in the corner by the sofa. One potential danger was that many items were plugged into an extension cord in the corner. In the bedroom, there was a very comfortable, king sized bed (4 medium pillows and very comfortable bedding) where I got a great night's sleep, and two bedside tables. One had a phone and lamp, and the other had a clock radio and another lamp. There was a large bureau with iron and ironing board plus a few hangers and a sink area with amenities. In between were a small dresser (2 drawers) and another large tv. The dresser had a lot of scratch marks as did the sink. The furniture in the living room was not as scratched up. The bathroom was entered from the bedroom and had a toilet and tub/shower combo. Again, it was obvious about the style and age. The tub could not be controlled while in the tub. The control was about 4 feet high for the water temperature and water flow. This made taking a bath a task of getting up and down often to adjust the temperature and water level. It also meant a lot of overflow! It was not a comfortable place to take a soothing, relaxing bath. There were plenty of soft, fluffy towels plus a multi-setting shower head. The free wifi worked well, and even though they provided a code when I checked in, it wasn’t needed. Once I chose the wireless provider, it worked! There were windows on each end of the suite, and it could be loud on the bedroom side as Fowler St was not far away and there was a deli just out the back window plus a train track although I never heard or saw a train. A WaWa is going up nearby. There is a Village Inn on the south side of the hotel. You can see the roller coasters at Busch Garden to the south of the hotel. There is a small workout room with 4 or so pieces of aerobic equipment, but I was lazy and didn’t use. As others have said, parking can be tight. I tried to leave my car in the front and was lucky to find one last, non-handicap place when I returned from the basketball game, which Notre Dame barely won in overtime. The #2 ranked Irish ladies must have been tired from staying up late to watch the depressing football game the night before and from their big win at UConn 3 days prior since they should have won by 20 or more. My car was safe and untouched the next morning when it was time to leave.
The tvs only received about 25 channels-no MSNBC unfortunately. I received a card for a breakfast due to my Platinum status. This was a big disappointment for a Platinum perk. I was limited to about 5 or 6 meals from which to choose plus 1 drink. This meant coffee or juice but not both. At least, water didn’t count as a drink! Most were high in carbs and all were skimpy, but the best of the choices for me was the Best-4-Value, which was 2 eggs, meat, bread, and some very salty fried potatoes plus decaf coffee. On the menu, this would have been $7.25 (food) plus $2.25 (coffee) plus tax. I don’t see why they couldn’t just issue a voucher for, say $12, so one could have juice and coffee plus a meal of their choice. Most of the meals on the main menu also had 3 eggs, but this one like others with eggs on the "special" menu only had two, which were both very tiny. The bacon wasn’t moist as ordered but tasted like very cheap bacon. I could have had the same meal at Denny’s and probably better quality for about $5. If I could have chosen from the “real” menu, I would have chosen the low carb ham, Swiss, and mushroom omelet, which was priced at $7.95. The menu I saw in the book in the room said egg beaters could be had for no extra charge but didn’t mention egg whites. Either way, it would have been better. There were some other items on the main menu as well that would have been preferred: 1) steak and eggs at $8.95, 2) grilled ham & eggs at $9.95, or 3) a full American breakfast with 3 eggs, meat, and juice for $8.95. I know this is a perk for Platinum members, but since they don’t really seem to have any room upgrades, they should do a little more for their Platinum guests. Basically, I avoid Holiday Inn Expresses because I receive nothing there but maybe a higher floor! Holiday Inn, the original brand in the IHG family, should do more for its premier members, especially a Platinum Ambassador. Granted, it is much easier to reach Platinum status than it is to make Hilton Gold status, but the perks received at regular Hiltons are much better than those received at regular Holiday Inns. Another issue was that while I was eating breakfast, the electricity went off. It came back on quickly in the restaurant, but when I returned to my room, it was off in the living room section but on in the rest. When I checked out, I mentioned that I had no electricity in the living room section, and she said that half the hotel was without electricity. This shows the age of the wiring system and is scary, especially since no one seemed concerned, which leads me to believe it is a regular occurrence. For the price paid at the last minute, $69.95 plus tax, it was a great bargain. They have a special for booking 1-6 days in advance for which you have to prepay 1 night. This was the best price in the area at a Holiday Inn or Hilton property, my preferred two hotel chains to stay. I highly recommend if you want to stay near USF or Busch Gardens and you don’t mind dated layout and styles but want a good price. Again, my complaint is more to Holiday Inn than to this particular property, but if they want my repeat business, they need to offer more perks. I should have taken both cards for breakfast, which they offered even though I was traveling alone, and had two breakfasts and double the bacon and eggs. The friendly lady at check-in offered two cards and implied that I might have someone else back to my room…which I found rude and insulting since I am 52 years old and not on the prowl. Other than her comment, all of the interaction with her and the rest of the staff was professional and welcoming! Not sure if I’ll stay here again, even if I need something this close to USF. In summary, this property probably would have been razed a decade ago were it not so close to Busch Gardens and USF. It is like "That 70's Show".
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.