Unfortunately, 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 online revealed a Holiday Inn Express just two minutes away from BLI, so that pretty much sealed the deal for me.

A full review of my 1 night stay at the Holiday Inn Express in Bellingham, WA

It feels weird to admit out loud that I am becoming a really big fan of 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. What could possibly go wrong?

The lobby

To my absolute horror, the choice I made felt “wrong” the moment I stepped through the front door. The lobby of this particular property had none of the high-end touches that other Holiday Inn Express hotels that I’ve experienced had.

It actually felt as cheap as the Comfort Inn & Suites in Deming, NM (which is a massive insult BTW). Sure, the lounge area was nice, but the check in desk and “kitchen” gave off a very budget-focused vibe.

Holiday Inn Express Bellingham lobby
The lobby lounge, located directly opposite of the check in desk. Looks good, right?
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham check in desk
But the check in desk screamed “budget hotel” at the top of it’s lungs
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham lobby kitchen area
The kitchen area looked very “budget” as well

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

Getting to my room

Holiday Inn Express Bellingham elevator
Nothing high tech here in the elevator. Welcome back to the 80’s!
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham guest room hallway
Things started looking better after stepping off the elevator. The hallways seemed nicely updated and fresh.
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham room door
The door to my room for the evening (number 327)

The room

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 the “Express” 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!
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham bed
On par with the other Holiday Inn Express properties I’ve stayed at, the colors and textures used throughout the room were very pleasing.
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham bed and pillows
Hard to complain about the padding on the headboard. Safety first!
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham room details
Window and desk area
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham room layout
Looking back towards the door – as you can see, this is an odd-shaped room (it’s not square)
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham entertainment center
Entertainment unit with integrated microwave and large refrigerator
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham in room refrigerator
Really nice to see such a large refrigerator!
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham door
Closer look at the room door (because I’m sure at least one of you really wanted to see it).
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham floor plan
Floor plan of this hotel. Looks like I got lucky with one of those bigger “corner” rooms.
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham closet
Decent size closet space, though it would look much nicer if there was a door (or mirror) on it.

The bathroom

Holiday Inn Express Bellingham bathroom
A large, bright bathroom.
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham bathroom layout
I really liked the modern look of the bathroom. Very stylish.
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham bathroom vanity
So clean I almost felt guilty for getting it dirty.
Holiday Inn Express Bellingham bathroom amenities
Complimentary bathroom amenities

Final thoughts

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), and I’d give it a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Holiday Inn Express Bellingham view
The view from my window. This property is located away from the main road so it is very secluded and quiet.
what the bed looked like in the morning
I slept like a baby!

The Holiday Inn Express in Amarillo, TX was my first experience this brand. Shortly after that, I stayed in another Holiday Inn Express in Maumelle, AR. Both impressed the hell out of me, and therefore, my expectations were admittedly high before stepping into this one in Bellingham.

If I would have been careful not to expect too much, I probably wouldn’t have said all the mean things I did about the lobby. Just sayin’.

One final note about my stay here: even though they advertise “free shuttle service” to and from the airport, they did not have their own shuttle bus during my stay. They simply covered 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.

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