Holiday Inn Express, Bellingham WA

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01. Introduction: San Diego to Bellingham and back on Allegiant, Horizon, and Alaska Airlines
02. Allegiant Air A319 San Diego, CA to Bellingham, WA
03. Holiday Inn Express, Bellingham WA
04. The one reason why it’s impossible to hate an airline like Allegiant
05. Horizon Air Dash 8 Q400 Bellingham to Seattle
06. Alaska Airlines 737-800 economy class Seattle to San Diego

Hardcore SANspotter fans (lol – yes I just made that up) should be well aware by now about my attraction to Holiday Inn Express hotels. Somewhere, somehow, the cheapo Holiday Inn’s of the past have been renovated into some really nice properties, so much so that I will actually go out of my way to chose to stay at one of them over any other low to mid-tier hotel brand in the same area. And that’s exactly what I did during this trip to Bellingham.

Here’s a quick video of my room for those of you who want a quick preview before reading the rest of this review:

To be honest, there aren’t many plush hotel options around the Bellingham airport. My #1 requirement for this particular stay was to be as close to the airport as possible, but the options were few. A quick search on Hotels.com revealed a Holiday Inn Express just two minutes away, so that pretty much sealed the deal for me. The two Holiday Inn Express properties I stayed at in Deming, NM and Amarillo, TX during my cross-country drive back in April of this year impressed the hell out of me so I knew that the chances of being disappointed with this choice were very low. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, my choice started to feel “wrong” the moment I stepped through the front door. The lobby of this particular property had none of the high-end touches that those other two Holiday Inn’s had, and it felt like a cheap Comfort Inn more than anything else. Sure, the lounge area was nice, but the check in desk and “kitchen” felt very low end.

lobby lounge holiday inn express

The lobby lounge, located directly opposite of the check in desk. Looks good, right?

check in desk holiday inn express

But the check in desk screamed “budget hotel” at the top of it’s lungs

kitchen off the main lobby

The kitchen area looked very low-end as well

Stepping onto the elevator confirmed my suspicion that I had set my expectations too high. This particular lift was old, smelly, and creaky with buttons that looked straight out of 1985. I guess it’s true – not all Holiday Inn Express properties are created equal.

holiday inn express elevator

Nothing high tech here in the elevator!

hallway holiday inn express

Things started looking better after stepping off the elevator. The hallways seemed nicely updated and fresh.

holiday inn express door room

The door to my room for the evening

Thankfully, I was once again a happy traveller as soon as I opened the door to my room. Now this is what I was expecting! While the rest of this hotel was poorly (and cheaply renovated) to fit the style of this new brand, the room was top-notch. I’ll let all the pics do the talking:

holiday inn express bellingham room

My first glimpse of the room – not bad!

nice colors and textures holiday inn express

On par with the other Holiday Inn Express properties I’ve stayed at, the colors and textures used throughout the room were very pleasing

Window and desk area

Window and desk area

looking towards the door

Looking back towards the door – as you can see, this is an odd-shaped room

in-room microwave and refrigerator

Entertainment unit with integrated microwave and large refrigerator

large refrigerator holiday inn express bellingham

Really nice to see such a large refrigerator!

holiday inn express room door

Closer look at the room door

holiday inn express bellingham floor plan

Floor plan of this hotel. Looks like I got lucky with one of those bigger “corner” rooms.

large storage space

Decent size closet space, though it would look much nicer if there was a door or mirror on it

bathroom holiday inn express

Large, bright bathroom

sink and vanity

I really liked the modern look. Very stylish.

Complimentary bathroom amenities

Complimentary bathroom amenities

Overall, I can’t really complain about this hotel. It didn’t give me a very nice first impression, but the quality of the room made up for all the inconsistencies elsewhere. Combine that with the fact that I got lucky with very quiet neighbors (I slept like a baby), it’s a place I’d return to again.

view from my window

The view from my window. This property is located away from the main road so it is very secluded and quiet.

comfortable bed holiday inn express

I slept like a baby!

One final note about my stay here: even though they advertise “free shuttle service” to and from the airport, they do not have their own shuttle bus. They simply cover the cost of taxi fare to and from BLI for all guests. Nothing inconvenient about that, but it would be nice if they would advertise it that way to avoid confusion.