As other reviewers have mentioned, this facility is made up of multiple different buildings, so it's probably not fair to judge the entire operation based on a single review. However, since I am stuck here for 4 months, I was placed in one of the remote buildings out on Forney loop (buildings 505-509), I presume because these units have a kitchenette. From what I am told, the units in the main building (Knadel Hall), have been renovated to at least '90s standards, and fall under the official branding of the IHG's Holiday Inn Express label. I believe the buildings I am in do not even meet the meager standards needed to wear that designation.
First, the positives: the rooms where I am located consist of a small bedroom with a queen sized bed that is decently comfortable and has relatively modern bedding, including two types of pillows (the pillow cases include embroidering that is supposed to indicate whether the pillow is firm or soft, although they don't always seem to be placed on the correct version), two dressers, a closet with an iron, 6 hangers, and a safe (mine is nonfunctional), an old pleather BarcaLounger chair, a desk, a couple lamps, a ceiling fan, and the kitchenette includes a mini fridge, microwave, small pantry closet, two burner gas stove, sink with garbage disposal, a collection of essential cookware, dishes, and utensils, a toaster, coffee maker, and a small table with chair. The bathroom is tiny, but includes a medicine cabinet which is nice for storing toiletries, given the length of time I'll be staying here. There are two heating options (I'm here in the winter): an under window HVAC unit and a portable electric radiator, both of which do the job. There is a 32" (I'm guesstimating) flat screen LCD TV with Comcast cable including hbo, a DVD/VCR combo unit (pre-blu ray era), and wireless internet which on a good day can achieve download speeds of 4-5 Mbps, and about 0.7 Mbps up. So overall, the room is well-equipped with basic necessities and a few niceties. The front desk staff has also been excellent, and they do offer continental breakfast and weekly social events. Laundry facilities are free. There is also a fitness room, but it's in the main building.
Now the not-so-great: with the exception of the bedding and the TV, most of the standard equipment is right out of 1988. The lighting is dim, the carpet is grungy, the ugly wallpapered walls separate from the ceiling, adding to the "horror movie" ambience a previous reviewer invoked. The shower stall is made of thin plastic, and reminds me of the type of shower you might find in a recreational vehicle. Many of the white towels are dingy or stained. The whole room feels dirty, and in fact, one of the first things I did was invest in a large bottle of Clorox wipes. A few swipes on the BarcaLounger and the wipe was brown and covered in hair, food crumbs, and dirt. This may not be surprising, given that housekeeping only does two full cleanings per week. The rest of the days, they empty the trash and make the beds, and there is no service on weekends unless requested ahead of time. To their credit, the housekeepers have all been very friendly; they're probably just not sufficiently staffed to really clean the rooms like they need to be.
Another gripe: the walls are extremely thin, to the point that I can clearly hear conversations (and pretty much everything else going on) in the adjacent rooms. At one point, there was someone training a puppy next to me! To minimize this I have started running the bathroom and kitchen fans all the time so the white noise will block out some of the sound intrusion from adjacent rooms.
The cable tv signal is abysmal. The tv may be high def, but the signal it receives is awful, so it might as well be low def. You probably won't mind, though, if you are watching VHS tapes on the supplied VCR.
So in summary, the lodging is serviceable, and meets my needs, but is disappointingly outdated given all the hype about what privatized army lodging was supposed to deliver (all I see is a nicer sign outside the building). Maybe the experience would have been better in Knadel Hall, but that was never presented to me as an option, and even if it was, I probably would have declined for the simple reason that I need a kitchenette for my prolonged stay.
Short of spending the money to modernize, the rooms in buildings 505-509 are in desperate need of deep cleaning, and some nice-to-haves would include new towels (or at least retire the dingy stained ones), better lighting, more hangers in the closet, and improved tv reception.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to IHG Army Hotels on Fort Belvoir. We are committed to providing quality on-post accommodations to military personnel and official guests of the United States Army. Because we are located right on post, we have a unique understanding of military guests and their needs. We also offer a number of amenities including daily complimentary breakfast, courtesy on-post shuttle service, free internet access, a flexible pet policy, and complimentary weekly socials. ... more less