As part of our trip to New York City, we decided to drive up north to Connecticut for a weekend road trip to catch peak fall foliage. Fall is our favourite season of the year, especially in the US Northeast.
What better way to explore the state than to visit its capital city of Hartford?
During our 2-day road trip, we will be spending most of our time exploring new places. This is a trip where we won’t have a lot of time to spend enjoying our accommodation. Therefore, we just needed to find a hotel that is decently comfortable and located in a centrally good location.
We’ve luckily found Holiday Inn at Hartford Downtown that on paper, seemed to tick all of our boxes.
This can either be described as the best check-in experience we ever had, or the worst experience. The whole process was incredibly quick.
Paperwork was already prepared for us beforehand and all we had to do was to say our name and sign the form. It took less than 2 minutes for us to get our keys.
However, we felt that the receptionist was a little too “cold” and unfriendly. There weren’t any attempts at small talk and she was listening to her earphones on 1 ear throughout our conversation.
Despite being an IHG Platinum Elite member, we did not receive a room upgrade for our stay. This is to be expected as this stay was an award stay. According to IHG’s rules, award stays are not eligible for room upgrades. Therefore, we were checked into the standard room of the hotel.
The Holiday Inn Hartford Downtown hotel can be described as a very typical no-frills business hotel as seen by the room we stayed in.
Every room comes with a desk for working and a really comfortable office chair. I managed to write out a portion of this blog post sitting here, so I’ll highly recommend it!
Instead of the more common Nespresso machines around the world, Holiday Inn opted to go for Keurig coffee machines (which seems to be more common in the US). It also comes with 3 complimentary capsules.
There are no minibar services provided by the hotel. You simply get an empty fridge in your room which is completely empty.
The bathroom is decidedly minimal and empty. It isn’t fancy and designed to impress. It has all the basic amenities expected of a toilet. A sink, toilet, bathtub and shower.
The provided soap and shower gels are by Bath and Body Works. However, something noticeably missing is a tooth brushing kit. Remember to bring your own if you’re visiting (unlike me).
In today’s remote work from home environment, internet speed in hotels is increasingly more important. The speed in Holiday Inn Hartford Downtown wasn’t impressive at all.
I was able to get basic usage out of it, surfing the web and social media platforms. Any serious video watching or conferences were simply unusable.
A small business centre sits adjacent to the hotel’s lobby. This is very useful for travellers who need to print any important last-minute documents.
I don’t presume anyone would want to do any serious work on a publicly shared computer. It also doesn’t seem like the computer will be able to handle any serious computing work.
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The restaurant was temporarily closed when we visited. This meant that there was no breakfast served regardless of status or room type. There was also no way for guests to get lunch or dinner in the hotel.
This isn’t much of a problem due to the central location of the hotel. There are many restaurants just a few minutes’ drive away.
Gym & Fitness Centre
The hotel has a very basic fitness centre and gym area. Even though it’s stated that the centre only opens at 9 am, I was there at 7.30 am and was able to enter.
It has all the basic equipment needed to do a proper workout. The dumbells have a sufficient variety of weights.
Something that stood out immediately to me was how untidy the centre was. As you can see from the picture above, used towels were left on the floor in front of the water cooler. This left me to wonder if the equipment were even cleaned or sanitised at the end of the day.
There was a swimming pool right outside the fitness centre. I appreciate the fact that it’s indoors as it would be impossible for anyone to swim in the frigid morning weather. I can imagine crowds of guests chilling beside the pool during peak summer periods.
Perhaps the biggest selling point of this hotel is its prime location. It is located right in the middle of downtown Hartford, making it incredibly convenient to visit places within the city.
However, it is specifically situated on the east of the Connecticut River. We found that the most happening parts of the city are mostly on the west of the river, and therefore you might need to make a quick 15 minute walk across the Founder’s Bridge.
Summary & thoughts
We think that the Holiday Inn Hartford Downtown is a decent hotel if you’re planning on making a business trip to the city. It fulfils most of the basic requirements that a hotel needs and its biggest selling point have to be its central location.
However, if you’re looking for a staycation or a relaxing trip that primarily revolves around your accommodation, then we will not recommend this. At an average nightly rate of US$150 a pop, a stay at the hotel does not come cheap. There was a significant lack of elite member recognition and customer service.
Of course, we cannot expect the same quality of service as what we’ve experienced in The Fullerton Hotel Singapore as they are clearly in a different hotel category.
We think it might be worth it to use your IHG points to book a stay here as it costs 22,000 points a night, making each point worth close to a decent 0.7 cents. If you’re paying cash, then we think it might be better to look at other Holiday Inns within the city.