This is part 10 in a series about my summer 2017 trip, which took me to Norway, the Netherlands, and Malta. You can read an overview of the trip here.
I only spent two nights in Rotterdam but split the stay between two hotels in order to take advantage of a great IHG Accelerate promotion offer, which meant I’d get an insane number of points by staying one night at the Holiday Inn Express Rotterdam on a 72 EUR stay booked with the IHG Mastercard partner promo rate. The second night was at the Hilton Rotterdam, which was right across the street (facing each other). I didn’t book through Hilton because Mastercard travel had a $126 rate including breakfast, which was about half of what Hilton.com had. Hilton.com wouldn’t match it, saying it was a members-only rate (although it’s not, actually). I actually was quite pleased with both properties, though they were very different.
Holiday Inn Express Rotterdam – Central Station
It was about a ten-minute walk from Rotterdam’s Central Station to the Holiday Inn Express, right on Weena, a boulevard filled with large office buildings and several hotels and with a tram down the middle. The Holiday Inn Express is in a large nondescript glass building, with office space on some floors.
On entering the ground level, you have to ride up a small elevator one floor to the lobby/reception. In addition to the reception desk, there was a small area with bar-top style seating and a small bar. There was also a billiards table, two computers, and some seating off to the side. Check-in was quick and friendly, and I was offered a choice of points or a snack and drink as a welcome amenity. I was also presented with a Welcome Letter explaining the hotel and facilities, and then I went up to the top floor, where I had a corner room.
The room was pretty basic, and had no real view, as it was on the side of the L -shaped hotel that faced the neighboring building. The room was similar in size to my room at the Radisson Blu Scandinavia Oslo (i.e., not that big), but it felt less cramped- particularly in the bathroom and entry way. I hadn’t expected any upgrade since there’s only one room type. It was neat and clean and modern.
The bed wasn’t super-comfortable, as is common in Europe. There was a hot water kettle and coffee/tea setup as the extent of amenities. One of the towels in the bathroom had a big hole in it.
The free wi-fi was fine, and there wasn’t much else in terms in amenities. There was no gym on-site, but you could buy a pass for a nearby gym for only 10 EUR, but since I was going to the Hilton the next day, I didn’t bother.
One thing the hotel did have, though, was complimentary breakfast. It was crowded with members of a Spanish tour group, but the staff did a good job keeping the buffet stocked and tables cleaned. Served in an area off the lobby, it was a basic cold continental buffet, with very fresh breads, meats and cheeses, cereal, yogurt, juice, and hard-boiled eggs, along with a self-serve coffee machine.
I haven’t really stayed at many Holiday Inn Express properties before- I think actually only once in Seoul and once in Seward, Alaska. I didn’t really have high expectations, particularly at 72 EUR in summer in Europe. But the hotel got the job done – and with the IHG Accelerate offer, I got 16,000 bonus points for the one night, plus another 2,000 points from the stay, putting it on my IHG credit card, and my welcome points (and it allowed me to get another 11,600 points from an “achievement bonus” when I did my Cash & Points stay at the Intercontinental Malta the following week).
The Hilton Rotterdam is literally across the street from the Holiday Inn Express, with the same easy access to the trams that run down Weena, and next to the Stadhuis Metro. It’s actually a fairly historic hotel, opened in 1963 and one of the first post-war buildings in Rotterdam, the outside still has a 1960s retro vibe, though the interior was completely renovated in 2013.
As noted above, I didn’t book this stay through Hilton due to price, so I wasn’t expecting to get my Hilton Gold benefits. Since I had breakfast included anyway, and Hilton generally disappoints in providing elite benefits, I didn’t care much. Surprisingly, of my two Hilton family stays on this trip, this was the far superior one, and I was recognized for my loyalty repeatedly.
The Hilton was a host hotel for the North Sea Jazz Festival, which unfortunately was starting the night I left. But many of the artists arrived a day early. I had dropped my bags at the front desk early in the morning before heading to Kinderdijk. When I went to check in on return, I was stuck behind a huge group of musicians, but the front desk staff was apologetic, and confirmed my Gold Honors status, which I had added via email the week before.
I had a standard “Deluxe” room on the 6th floor, which was very nice. It was on the Weena side of the hotel, with a view of the fountain and Holiday Inn Express out front, which is the less picturesque side of the hotel, but oh well. There was a king-size bed (two twins), which was soooo firm, with a little sitting area on the side. There was a separate desk, and then a small dresser. Overall, the room had a really Scandinavian feel, modern with light wood. There were plenty of plugs everywhere.
One thing I liked was a lot of local art around the room, even in the bathroom. There was also a book about the history of the hotel which is a nice touch, and definitely made it feel a bit more boutique-y than a standard Hilton.
I accidentally discovered that the hotel had bikes for rental, which I’d definitely explore if I was staying longer. I did check out the gym, which was fairly small for a full-service Hilton, with about five cardio machines, a small rack of weights, and some random other equipment.
At check-in, I was told I had lounge access, which was nice. The lounge was on the ground floor, just off the lobby. It was open all day, with an evening reception. I first popped in on the early side on the way back from the gym. A bit after 7pm, the chafing dishes were empty and there were piles of dishes all over. There seemed to be only one staff member working, who was checking people in, clearing places, and restocking the buffet – and responding to some rather demanding guests – that’s a lot! I did have a glass of champagne, but out of a water glass, as there were no champagne glasses.
When I came back down after freshening up, things had calmed down a bit. The chafing dishes had been refilled with an assortment of fried things, which I concluded after hands-on testing were approximately chicken nuggets, meatballs, fried cheese, and rice balls. There was also a display of a variety of cold vegetables and salads, and cheese, as well as jars of crisps, cookies, and nuts. I ended up just sitting and reading for a bit and filled myself enough for a light dinner before bed. The spread was nice, but the space itself could probably be a bit bigger and have a greater range of seating.
In the morning, I headed to restaurant, also on the main floor, for breakfast. At check-in, I had been advised I could have breakfast in either the lounge or the restaurant. I’m not sure if I would have been given the option had I not purchased a non-Hilton rate that included breakfast. I was seated by a very friendly waiter, who said “Thank you for your loyalty,” as he seated me. His friendliness wasn’t just directed at me, as two Chinese girls took a picture with him on their way out (they may have also liked him for his looks, but the manbun 22-year-old thing doesn’t do it for me J). There was a fairly typical Hilton breakfast buffet, with some hot dishes of amore standard British style, as well as a small Asian breakfast. There was a very delicious array of pastries, including a phenomenal apple cake. There was a small meat and cheese station, as well as a yogurt and fruit station, with a sign saying you could make a bowl of fruit and they would juice it for you. Waiters brought your choice of a pot of coffee or tea, or espresso beverages, and a waitress was walking around with fresh orange juice. Since the hot options weren’t appealing to me, I ordered an omelet.
In all, I really liked the Hilton Rotterdam, and would definitely stay there again if I was in town and the rate was right. The location was good and the service was friendly.