There's a danger in tarring every hotel in a chain with the same brush. To say, all Holiday Inn Expresses are wonderful or awful, above or below average wouldn't be fair - if you had stayed in only one hotel in the chain. However...
Holiday Inn Expresses SEEM to hold so much promise. They are, without fail, well-located and easy to find, and appear, from the exterior, modern and clean, with ample parking.
Inside, it is a different story. With only one exception, we encountered front-line staff who were young (very young in many instances) unable to make decisions or respond appropriately to situations and lacking in confidence. The hotel's decor was interesting, with a modernist feel. If it had actually been CLEAN, we may have enjoyed it. From the moment we entered the lobby, the dirt and accumulated dead leaves only served to (slightly) distract us from the grease stains, bleach spots (with the attempted remedy of removing bits of carpeting and leaving bald patches). Same in the elevators, down the halls and in the rooms. Yes, carpeting is expensive, but it is also one of the first things patrons look at. Elevators were very dirty and looked as if they hadn't been vacuumed in many days. When asked about this, front desk staff cited the busyness of the staff, hotel, etc. I may say that many times when I was hoisting a large number of boxes and bags (more about that later) that staff were busy talking, socializing and doing nothing much. Check in was not fun: a limited number of trolleys were available. We waited a long while for one. I finally scanned all the hallways, hoping to find a stray. No result. I asked the front desk staff. No help there. As I had a large number of quite heavy boxes/pieces of luggage to haul, I was quite insistent. No help. After five trips up (unassisted, by even the opening of a door!) I entered the room. Same carpeting problems. Long black hair in bed. Looked as if the bed had not been made (I still have my doubts). Yes, part of our stay was comped - only part - but the excuses went on and on.
As this is only one of the many Holiday Inn Express stories we have to tell (the excellent Hampton Inn was booked) we feel we have given this chain all the chance they deserve.