We were surprised by how much we liked this “new” version of Holiday Inn. Our room was large, clean, quiet, contemporary, digitally well-equipped, and remarkably comfortable. Even the hallways had a light and colorful feel about them – all of this in stark contrast to the dark and dreary days of the old Holiday Inn brand. We also liked the out-in-the-country location of this particular property. At first we worried it was going to take us too far off of I-66 in the opposite direction of Front Royal, but the extra drive was only about a mile and the hill-top site was a great place to see the mix of valleys and ridges in the distance. And we enjoyed seeing all the stars that night, something that is difficult to appreciate in other locations where light pollution makes it difficult to remember what a sea of stars can actually look like.
Unfortunately, few things are perfect and there was an item of notable annoyance – enough to reduce our rating to a 4-star experience. When we arrived, there were at least 6 different groups waiting in line for check-in and only one clerk at the desk. After 15 minutes of no movement, people were beginning to show the usual signs of irritation. Once the line did begin to move, it still took at least 5 minutes per customer before we got our turn at the desk. The clerk was obviously stressed and apologized for the “slow computer system” that handled reservations. We might not have mentioned this if this had been a one-time incident -- but -- we encountered the same exact problem at 3 different Holiday Inn locations this summer. The first occurred at a Holiday Inn in Williamsburg (which, after a 20 minute wait, turned out to be a different Holiday Inn from the one we had booked) and the most recent incident was in Austin Texas. In all 3 cases there was only one clerk handling customers and two of these clerks mentioned a “slow computer” for the long wait. We have done our share of travel and these repeated check-in waits were the longest we have experienced at any major hotel chain. Perhaps they were all coincidental but it has made us wonder if the chain might be growing a little too fast for its infrastructure. Hope the problem gets fixed because we really do like the look and feel of the new HI experience.
PS. As noted by other reviewers, the Houlihan’s restaurant next to the hotel is not affiliated with Holiday Inn and we won’t review it here. Nevertheless, our advice to hotel customers visiting the restaurant is to eat in the bar area if you can. We found the service to be 100% better.