“ Halbeath, Dunfermline, KY11. Tel: 44 1383 748220 „
When it comes to budget hotels, few can be better than Express by Holiday Inn, in terms of what you get for you money.
Having stayed in Travelodges, Premier Inns and Days Inns also, my favourite has to be Express by Holiday Inn.
The Dunfermline hotel is one of the newer ones in the popular chain, and since opening three years ago has won the InterContinental Hotels Group Torchbearer Award for excellence in 2007, 2008 and again this year.
I have stayed at this hotel twice when visiting Scotland and throughly enjoyed my stay on both occasions.
Located 1.5 miles from Dunfermline town centre, the hotel occupies a quiet spot easily accessed from the Dunfermline turn-off on the M90 motorway and following the A907.
The hotel is set back from the road, built on a large grassed area with an ample car park.
If travelling by rail, Dunfermline has two railway stations in the centre and to the north east of the town.
The hotel has a very modern and contemporary design both inside and out, and has 82 guest rooms which are all non smoking, and a restaurant and bar area.
On my first visit to the hotel I did wonder if it would be a little noisy as there is a large Asda store just across the road from the hotel. However, this was not the case as it is actually very quiet. The hotel is set back from the road and has a large grassed area. The rear of the hotel is very quiet, looking out onto the large car park and grass.
Inside, I was greeted warmly on both occasions by the friendly reception staff. I had booked online via the hotel group's website HiExpress.co.uk, so they had all my details ready, I just had to give my name and car registration number.
I was given a swipe card which acts as your room key and also operates the electricity in your room. I was also informed of breakfast times as a continental buffet style breakfast is included in the room rate. I was also advised if I needed anything at all, or had any problems just to call reception from the telephone in my room.
I booked a double room for myself and my partner. The rooms are very spacious and are spread over three floors.
The room was very clean, modern and comfortable with a large bed made up with white bed linen. Four pillows were provided but if you want more then you simply ask at reception. The bed was comfortable, the mattress was just right for us, not too hard nor too soft and we spent a comfortable night on both occasions.
Also in the room was a sofa bed, space to hang your clothes, a work space, flatscreen TV with some sky channels, a kettle with sachets of tea/coffee etc which were replenished daily, hairdryer, full length mirror and telephone.
The walls were painted a cream colour, and a bright abstract canvas print hung above the bed which complimented the bright curtains, sofa bed and light fittings.
The windows are double glazed and the curtains were fully lined 'black-out' curtains.
The en-suite bathroom was fully tiled and immaculate. There is no bath but the power shower is excellent. Shower gel and handwash are provided as well as a bath and hand towel for each person. There was also a little note to say that if you had forgotten to bring any essential toiletry items, then just ask at reception and a replacement will be provided free of charge, which I thought was a very nice touch.
After freshening up we decided to go downstairs and have a drink at the bar. There is also a restaurant where meals are served and breakfast in the morning.
I was suprised to find the evening meals available were quite reasonably priced and on both our stays we have enjoyed a meal in the restaurant.
There are light bites and starters available such as Loaded Potato Skins (£3.79) Nachos with dips (£3.79), or Soup with crusty bread (£2.99).
On our most recent stay, my partner and I shared some loaded potato skins, which were chunky and stuffed full of bacon and cheese.
We then both enjoyed Chargrilled Steak Ciabatta Baguettes (£7.50) which came served with chips and a choice of sauces.
Other meals available included curries, fish and chips, penne al pomodoro pasta, salads, cajun chicken and pizza.
There were desserts available including chocolate fudge cake and sticky toffee pudding, but we were too full so I cannot comment on those.
The next morning we headed down for breakfast, which as previously mentioned is included in the room rate, and this is one of the reasons why Express by Holiday Inn offers such good value for money.
It is a continental buffet style and offers a large range of cereals, pastries, croissants, toast, jams, yoghurt, fresh fruit and also fruit juice and tea and coffee.
You just help yourself to as much as you like, and can also take it back to your room on a tray if you prefer.
I am not one for having breakfast at home, but strangely enough I always enjoy it when I am away!
Checking out was as easy as checking in. Checkout was at 12pm which is good, though if you are a member of their Priority Club Rewards Scheme, which I am, you can ask for a later checkout time at no extra cost.
PRICES AND PRIORITY CLUB REWARDS SCHEME
Another reason I believe that Express by Holiday Inn offers great value is their excellent Priority Club Rewards Scheme.
It is free to join, and the scheme covers all hotels in this chain : Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc. Details can be found on the website.
After signing up to Priority Club rewards, you receive a membership card and you will then earn points each stay which can be saved and used as payment for a free night. There is also the option to buy points if you do not wish to wait until you have accumulated enough for a free night.
This is a really good reward scheme which brings many benefits, apart from extended check in and out times, you will also receive priority check in, complimentary newspapers and regular offers sent to you via email, to earn extra points.
I have earned quite a few free nights over the last five years, and the good thing is your points never expire so you can save them for as long as you wish. There are also no black-out dates on redeeming your points, so you can have a free night on any day you wish.
One of my stays at this hotel was a 'free' night using my points, the other was a promotional rate of only £39 which I found on the website.
If you visit HiExpress.co.uk you will find on the website homepage an advert for rooms available from £39 which always seems to be there so it is worth checking out.
The normal room rates are available online from £44 - £58 per room per night, which I believe is still great value as it is cheaper than a room at a Premier Inn and it includes breakfast!
IN THE AREA
Dunfermline town centre has the usual shops and restaurants, but if you like culture then visit the tomb of the legendary King Robert the Bruce at Dunfermline Abbey, the Abbot House Museum, or the famous Carnegie Hall.
For football fans the hotel is just a few minutes from Dunfermline Athletic Football Club and only 6 miles from Knockhill Racing Circuit. Deep Sea World, the UK's largest aquarium, is within easy reach also.
Close by is the Royal Burgh of Culross, with its picturesque 17th century cottages.
Along the coast lies Limekilns, the ancient port of the Benedictine monks of Dunfermline. You can follow the coastal walkway east, past the magnificence of the Forth Bridges, to Aberdour and its castle, granted by Robert the Bruce to his nephew in the 14th century.
It is said that in Dunfermline you can walk through 900 years of Scottish history in a day.
If that is not enough for you, then approx 30 minutes drive away across the magnificent Forth Bridge, lies the historic city of Edinburgh.
Whether you are visiting Dunfermline or touring Scotland and need a place to stop off, then I can recommend a stay at the Express by Holiday Inn. I don't think it can be beaten for comfort and value for money.
Express by Holiday Inn
To book call 0871 423 4896 or visit HiExpress.co.uk