My stay tonight is at the Ibis Birmingham New Street station hotel, part of the Accor chain. It’s centrally located and as its name suggests, is near to New Street railway station.
There’s a modern feel to the bar area and reception, so first impressions were positive. The staff member at reception was friendly, engaging and helpful, with everything feeling like it was well run. I got my drinks voucher without needing to ask and the hotel said they weren’t going to collect the 98p that was owing (I paid for nearly all of this stay with Accor rewards points), although I suspect it might appear on my card statement as these things tend to be automated. Either way, all nicely done and I like the personable check-in process. The staff member also mentioned that she was looking forwards to seeing me again next week, I hadn’t realised their system showed future linked bookings. I had forgotten I had booked here next week for three nights, but she was quite right.
The bar area is comfortable, not very busy at the moment and fits in with the attempts to modernise the Ibis brand. Nice.
There were a few beer options, none of them decadent, but the Camden Pale Ale is perfectly acceptable to me as a welcome drink. It doesn’t take much effort to offer something like this, rather than just shove a few Bud and Corona in the fridge and claim that’s a beer offering. Another engaging member of staff at the bar, there’s a welcoming feel and atmosphere to this entire hotel. In an ideal world the bar could probably ramp up its drinks offerings to be a bit more creative, but there are no problems currently with the choice.
The room is clearly a few years old and it’s slightly smaller than Ibis rooms usually are. However, it’s a central location and it has a desk, so I’m happy. There’s an air conditioning unit under the window which seems to be disconnected (although reviews suggest they are still going in some rooms), but the window opens and there’s a fan, so that’s fine with me. This attempt to sterilise rooms by sealing them up annoys me when hotels do it, it’s nice here to actually have a window open and to hear the world outside. There are no small number of reviews complaining about the noise from the street, but I quite like that and I’m not sure what a city centre hotel is realistically meant to do about city noise. I like that they’ve given me a top floor room as well, not too near the lift.
I’m not tempted by the breakfast which is £10, requires pre-booking and seems to allow a limited amount of each items, so no more than two sausages and two rashers of bacon I think it mentioned. Customers also had to choose which hot drink they wanted, but Ibis usually offer endless amounts of any particular item. It’s much cheaper to just go around the corner to JD Wetherspoon or a local cafe, but I imagine that these Covid limitations will be swept away soon enough.
Anyway, I’m very pleased with my £35 per night stay, especially as it’s funded by Accor points from previous stays. The rooms probably need a refurbishment in the next few years, but they are currently clean and entirely functional, so there’s perhaps no huge urgency. Reviews are mixed, but I think most of the problem is the room pushing the scores down, the staff and location rate highly.