We decided to stay at the Holiday Inn in Bern, Switzerland. MS usually has to stay at an IHG Hotel when traveling for work, so we’ve got a ton of points built up – and since Switzerland is so expensive, it made sense to burn some of these seldom used IHG points. We usually stay in the center of whatever City we are visiting – we don’t like the burbs at home, we don’t like them on vacation, but based on the various reviews…and well, availability the days we were in town, we decided to stay on the edge of town.
The Holiday Inn is connected to a large shopping mall and is adjacent to a commuter rail line that takes you into Bern Central Station. There is just one stop that separates the Holiday Inn Bern-Westside and the Central Station – this trip took less than 10 minutes. Another benefit – the good folks at the Holiday Inn gave us a free transit pass to get between the hotel and the Center. Not an Earth Shattering Perk, but a nice surprise nonetheless.
We checked into the hotel at around 15h30 and were greeted by some very young looking gentlemen who were working the front desk. They thanked MS for his loyalty to IHG and recognized his status (I don’t think the status got us anything – or maybe the free train ticket was a benefit…who knows). We were efficiently checked in and given a rundown of the facilities, which included direct access to the mall, complimentary internet and access to breakfast in the hotel (not complimentary). They also explained to us how the gym access worked, but 1) we had no intention of using it and 2) the explanation was long and complex so even if we wanted to use it, we probably couldn’t have figured it out – the explanation was mostly about open hours and how to get to the gym.
We were on the 7th floor of the hotel in a standard room. The room had a queen size bed, a small desk, a small closet with a coffee station and a safe.
The bathroom was clean and modern – as was the entire hotel. The building looks to be only a couple years old and despite it being a Holiday Inn, it is in really great shape. That being said, I will say that the European Holiday Inns are usually much better than the ones I come across in the US.
I did find it interesting that the room was pretty bare. There was but a single piece of art hanging on the walls. It was a bit above the TV, sort of bridging the gap between the TV and the closet – a large expanse of white walls. It looked strange where it was hung and the subject matter was odd: the picture was of different chocolates. When in Switzerland, I guess.
One of my biggest concerns in a hotel anywhere is that we have hot water and good water pressure in the morning. This hotel was perfect in both respects. God I hate getting up with a luke warm drizzle shower.
We did have one issue at the hotel and it was all our fault. When driving up to Bern from Beaune, we hit some pretty heavy fog so we turned on the fog lights in our rental car. We neglected to turn them off when we parked at the hotel. As we left, we noticed the lights were on, but very dim. There was a bit of juice in the battery, but not enough to turn the engine over. I’ll write about the awful customer service provided by the rental agency Sixt later. Long story short, the hotel and the shopping mall helped us eventually get the battery jumped and we were on our way – wasting about 2.5 hours of the day and requiring us to miss a couple sites we wanted to see in Bern. Now we have a real reason to go back!
Speaking of going back to Bern, I wouldn’t hesitate staying at the Holiday Inn Bern-Westside again. The location isn’t ideal, but the train connection is frequent (and free), the hotel is modern, clean and with a great staff. I’d prefer it to be in the Center, but you can’t be perfect. One recommendation though, skip the breakfast at the hotel and walk to a coffee/pastry shop inside the shopping mall. You’ll get a great selection of food and two people can eat for less than half the price of one person at the restaurant in the hotel.