Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Hotel Review - Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo

Location: Incheon, South Korea

Note: This article was written base on experience of staying in Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo's King Bed Superior Room. The following info is important to you because it tells you on which month we stayed, and the price relative to the amount of time between the date of stay to the date of booking. You may experience higher or lower price at different months/seasons and if you book further or nearer to the date of stay.

We booked through: directly via Holiday Inn
We booked on:         May 2016
We stayed on:          June 2016
We paid in total:      980,100 (in total, inclusive of 10%  charge and 10% VAT) @ King Bed Superior Room, 1 person, 6 nights, breakfast inclusive
* 163,350 (~RM580) per night (including charges, VAT, breakfast)

Incheon is a familiar name for frequent travelers to South Korea since this is the name for its international airport, which is named after the region where it is located. Unknown to most traveler though is that Incheon is a large region whereas the airport only lies on a strip of artificially island in said region. My recent business brought me to the industrial areas of Incheon, an area that is right across the airport and Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo was located at just the right distance for my convenience.

View of King Bed Superior Room

So let's explore the room I reserved - a King Bed Superior room. Even though this is the most economical choice among Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo's rooms, the room is still quite spacious at 26 m2. There is ample space for pacing in the room even with the luggage wide open on the floor, and that is after the fact that the room is decked out with a work desk and coffee table.

My room overlooked the developing part of the area, so only vistas of constructions greeted me whenever I parted the curtain blinds and I could do with a nice view overlooking Incheon bridge after a long day at work. Alas I had to contend myself with the interior decor of the room, which in itself was very nice. The room came with a tiled washroom, with a standing shower and as an added novelty to my hotel experience, the toilet was an automated version, with bidets for cleaning after yourself.

View of King Bed Superior Room from another side

The washroom

Standing shower stall occupying one side of the washroom.

This was the view looking out of my room. Incheon is being developed in a rush, resulting in a slew of construction projects cropping up almost everywhere. I would have preferred a view overlooking the sea for a change.

I stayed quite far above the ground. Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo is also connected to the neighboring condominium blocks, and from my higher vantage point, I could see that these residences came with nice facilities, including an outdoor playground.

Incheon's seaside location meant that fog could roll in from time to time, especially so in the morning. This photo was taken when it was only 5 in the morning but the surroundings were barely visible. It would be a nice setting for Silent Hill.

Room number

Corridor - beige can exude a king of boring dull feel here...

The level where I stayed on

Just as the room was impressive, so was the hotel itself. Interestingly, although I entered the building on ground floor, that was not where the lobby was situated - it was located instead on level 17, almost the highest floor of the hotel building. As such a fantastic view of Incheon Bridge crossing the sea greeted most visitors when one stepped out of the elevator and into the lobby. Talk about making a first impression.

And to top the experience, breakfast was served in the restaurant next to the lobby, awarding diners with the same breathtaking vista across the sea. When I arrived early for breakfast and need not jostle for a nice spot, I would invariably choose the seaside view. With an array of western and local breakfast items to choose from, coupled with a variety of fresh espresso choices, I could easily settle into a pondering state after finishing my breakfast while sipping coffee and looking out to the sea.

There was a rooftop bar, which I did not visit since I do not drink, and a cafe on the ground floor to complement the restaurant. I had visited the cafe - beautifully named Arts Deli - twice and I was surprised by its sheer size. It occupied a good plot of the level and since Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo was not exactly in a bustling corner, it was relatively devoid of diners, just a few souls filling in the spaces. Arts Deli did pack great coffee choices, which was why I returned despite receiving a lackluster service when I placed my order. There were confectioneries on display as well but I did not try those. Unfortunately for me, the cafe closed around 8 p.m., which I usually missed since my business concluded usually later than that.

Arts Deli, the cafe for relaxation

A nice view towards a quiet neighborhood

This is only 1 corner of the cafe, the whole area is much larger and can accommodate a few groups.

I arrived via cab and upon entering the ground floor entrance, I mistook this area for the lobby. This is actually the concierge area but they seem to be used to the mistake and will direct guests to the lobby level.

Another section of the same concierge area - again the recurring beige theme make me feel kind of old and dull.

The fact that the hotel's location is approximately 1.5 hours away from downtown Seoul by train meant that it is far away from the hustle of Seoul. Incheon Line 1 connects the area to Seoul city center and Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo is situated right at the exit of Central Park station of the subway system. This station is the second last stop of the line, which depending on how you look at it, could be a fortunate or unfortunate thing. Being close to the terminus meant that I was guaranteed a seat since the train was rather empty, but it also meant that I was as far as I could be from Seoul city center and you just would not look forward to a 3 hour return journey with nothing to do.

However the area surrounding Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo was rather relaxing, and I usually took a stroll after returning to the hotel. High rises dotted the landscape, ranging from residences to business towers, all similar with cold glass facade exuding a modern vibe. I was not drawn to these however but to the canal just in front of the hotel, an artificial waterway which aimed to connect the few buildings around the hotel with other residences a few blocks away via water taxi. I did not see the water taxi getting much use but the situation may change after the construction projects in the area are completed.

View from the ground floor entrance if you arrive by cab.

The other side of the hotel ground entrance led me to the subway entrance for Central Park station. This side of the building faces the artificial canal with a water taxi service.

Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo is interestingly the lower building when one takes in the surrounding area. Most buildings in the area reached for the sky, be it the financial tower on the left or the residential condominium on the right.

For idle driver waiting for their business guest to come down, he could stare blankly at these color changing columns with soothing sounds of bubbling water.

This is the financial tower standing next to the hotel, its glass facade an icon of modern architecture.

For a business traveler like me, Holiday Inn Incheon Songdo's location could be a boon or a bane. I loved its relaxing surrounding, which will no longer be the same peaceful scene when the construction projects complete in the future. Shopaholics may despair with the fact that it was located so far from Seoul by public transport so this could be a deterrent if one would like to combine their business trip with chopping sprees. I do appreciate its room's generous space and cozy furniture, and a nice scenery overlooking the sea while dining notch it up a few points in my opinion. Since I am not a shopaholic, its distance from my business partner is far more important than its distance from Seoul. And being so close to the airport meant that I can save some rest time and not worry about traffic conditions jeopardizing my flight schedule.

Environment:          A relaxing beachfront with private beach facing the Andamans
Suitable for:             Business
Visit worthiness:    8.5/10 
Sleep quality:               5.0/5.0 
Surroundings:             3.0/5.0
Service:                         5.0/5.0
Value:                            4.0/5.0
Cleanliness:                  5.0/5.0
Architecture/decor:    4.0/5.0

Room rate:                135,000 (~RM480)/night @ King Bed Superior Room (not inclusive of tax, inclusive of breakfast)
                                        163,350 (~RM580)/night @ King Bed Superior Room (inclusive of taxinclusive of breakfast)
                                        check latest room rates and availability here
Check-in time:         after 3.00 p.m.
Check-out time:      before 12.00 p.m.

Website:                   http://www.ihg.com

Contact:                    +82 32 2500000 (hotel general line)
                                      1800 787 1221 (reservation)
E-mail:                      reservation.songdo@ihg.com
Address:                   251 Incheon Tower-Daero, Yeonsu-gu, Incheon, 406-840, Republic of Korea

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