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But we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night (and earned one free night)

This week is round two of Into the Nights as we earn two free nights at any IHG hotel worldwide on my wife’s IHG account. I completed my Into the Nights task earlier this month and the two free nights posted to my account after completing two 1-night paid stays. I needed to stay at two IHG hotels outside the USA in two different countries. One country was the UK with Holiday Inn London Gatwick on a bonus points and breakfast rate and the other country was Ireland at Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport.

Similar to my situation, Kelley originally had one offer with five tasks when I registered her account in September and then her offer changed to a simple stay two times and earn one free night. She had a stay last month at Crowne Plaza Denver Airport and last night we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express on the California coast in Port Hueneme, south of Ventura and Oxnard and north of the mudslide on Pacific Coast Highway that has closed the Malibu stretch of road. California shows signs of heavy December rains across the state.

Kelley should now have earned one free night at any IHG hotel worldwide after $220 in spend for two hotel nights we needed.

Holiday Inn Express is truly the face of IHG

Holiday Inn Express hotels comprise almost 50% of the IHG chain’s global portfolio with over 2,258 hotels reported at year end 2013 out of 4,700 hotels worldwide. Holiday Inn Express is by far the largest brand by number of hotels in IHG’s global footprint. Interestingly, Holiday Inn hotels, a separate and older hotel brand has about half the number of hotels at 1,168 worldwide, but the average hotel size is larger and total rooms at 212,058 is only slightly less than the number of rooms for Holiday Inn Express at 214,597.

These numbers are a year-old now and undoubtedly both brands have grown with many of the hotels in construction phase one year ago now open. Holiday Inn had 249 hotels in the pipeline and Holiday Inn Express had a staggering 473 hotels planned at year end 2013.

As a traveler, the number of hotels is more significant to me when planning travel. I only need one room. In the hotel industry, the number of rooms is the more significant measure since each room is potential revenue for the hotel brand. Holiday Inn Express is a major global hotel brand anyway you look at it. There are more hotels in the Holiday Inn Express brand than any other hotel brand, except Best Western hotels.

But I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night

Here are some photos from the two Holiday Inn Express stays I had this month. One hotel in Port Hueneme, California and one hotel at the airport in Dublin, Ireland. The HIX Port Hueneme hotel receives a high 4.7 out of 5.0 rating.

Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme

The basic Holiday Inn Express usually has free parking, a computer station in the lobby, Stay Smart free breakfast, coffee in the room and a refrigerator.

The Holiday Inn Express room at Dublin Airport was small. I estimate the total room size in Dublin was probably about 150 square feet with a bed, desk, closet, shower, sink and toilet.

Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport compact and efficient room was fine for one person.

The Holiday Inn Express room at Port Hueneme, California was huge. Kelley has no IHG status and the standard King bed room measured about 500 square feet. That is the average size of a luxury hotel resort standard room and more than twice the size of the hotel rooms we had at Radisson Blu hotels in London last month.

Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme, California standard room was about 500 square feet.

WiFi was free at both hotels and worked well in Dublin and Port Hueneme. I wrote Loyalty Traveler articles sitting at the desks in both hotels.

Holiday Inn Express Dublin desk and old box TV.

The rolling chair in Port Hueneme and drip coffee filter made the desk work a little more comfortable. I tired of instant coffee after two weeks in London and Ireland. Two of the hotels where I stayed in Ireland had old-style box TV.

Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme desk and TV with microwave and refrigerator in cabinet.

Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme, like most U.S. HIX hotels, offers a microwave, empty refrigerator (in the cabinet) and a coffee maker.

Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport bathroom

The coolest feature of the HIX Dublin Airport bathroom was a blue light switch. I did not snap a photo of the bathroom awash in blue light. I loved the blue light effect so much that I tried to sleep with the bathroom blue light on, but I am a sleeper who needs the darkness and I had to switch it off to fall asleep.

HIX-PH bathroom
Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme two room bathroom.

Both bathrooms in Dublin and Port Hueneme had walk in showers

HIX-DUB shower
Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport stand in shower.

In a twist on the standard European shower with a glass door only partially covering the shower, the HIX Dublin Airport had a shower door that fully closed and the Port Hueneme HIX had a half door.

Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme walk-in shower

All the space in the Holiday Inn Express Dublin was maximized for efficiency.

HIX DUB amenities
Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport efficient use of space.

The photos do not reveal the size of the Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme room. Suffice to say that in the room there was plenty of space to add a couch and second chair or set up two extra roll-away beds. The mostly empty closet space was large enough for a crib.

HIX PH-closet
Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme abundance of space.

This post illustrates there are differences to be found in the more than 200,000 Holiday Inn Express rooms around the USA and worldwide. One thing that is common to all Holiday Inn Express hotels is free internet and breakfast. That is the basic guest value offered at most midscale hotel chains.

The basic value of IHG Rewards Club Into the Nights is the opportunity to stay at IHG brand hotels and earn two free nights in the last four months of 2014 at a hotel spend cost potentially less than the value of the free nights.  Despite the fiasco roll-out of the Into the Nights promotion with changing terms and task boards that did not necessarily update to track your progress toward free nights, the promotion offered the best value hotel stay promotion of 2014 for IHG Rewards Club members who did not have high hurdle tasks.

My tasks required only 2 nights since I was able to stay at hotels in Ireland and England to meet the task of stays in two countries outside the USA. Otherwise, I would have needed 7 hotel nights to earn two free nights. As it turned out, I earned two free nights after staying only two paid nights.

There is still time to enroll in IHG Into the Nights and complete hotel stays before December 31 to earn a free night or two. This assumes you get simple enough tasks like stay two times at any IHG hotel for one free night.

HIX Port Hueneme
Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme, California lobby

We plan to stay two more times with IHG over the next week to earn the second free night for Kelley’s account. With only nine nights left to complete IHG Into the Nights, we are hitting the finish line at the last minute.

The reward in mind makes the Into the Nights promotion effort worthwhile after we have four free nights to redeem in 2015. We have our eye set on the InterContinental London Park Lane for a summer break.

IC London Park Lane
InterContinental London Park Lane across from Hyde Park and Green Park in central London.

We may not have the travel budget to pay the typical $500 per night rates for InterContinental London Park Lane, but we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night to earn a free IHG night. That is what I call “Stay Smart”.


  • mhenner December 22, 2014

    I am confused about the promotion.

    I was offered a free night after staying at two different Holiday Inns.

    I have now been told that my stays at Holiday Inn Express hotels do not count.

    Has anyone else had this problem?

  • Wendy December 22, 2014

    If you have a Candlewood Suites close by try them. I recently stayed at the one by Cleveland hopkins airport. Suite was wonderful and price was right. 51 bucks booked through hotel tonight.

  • Dad to go December 22, 2014

    @mhenner I did not have this problem but I did have the same offer. I did some research on flyertalk and saw that the Holiday Inn Express stays would not count towards a Holiday Inn stay. It had to be a straight Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Resort hotel. Sorry… but I think you’re going to be out of luck.

  • Ric Garrido December 22, 2014

    Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express are two different brands.

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