Holiday Inn Express at Malaga Airport (soft of)
I needed to stay overnight near Malaga Airport, with an early morning flight the following day. Although Malaga’s airport has a newly constructed terminal and appears to not be lacking for space there are no onsite hotels. The Holiday Inn Express is seen as the closest you can get to a real airport hotel so I took my chances. The rates all include breakfast and combined with completing an IHG quarterly promotion, I thought it looked like a great option on paper. In reality another soulless airport accommodation was a disappointment. It is not so much a failure of the property or staff but rather the property marketing and general expectations.I had spent the last few days based in Algeciras after passing through Ceuta from Tetouan. Rather than stay in and/or fly out of Gibraltar I had found much more diverse flight options departing Malaga which is the largest airport in the region. The quickest way was getting a direct bus from Algeciras bus terminal to Malaga Airport. This left me directly outside the new terminal building.
Before booking it was made clear on their website that they did not operate an airport shuttle bus. Yet some online reviewers seemed mislead into thinking there was, possibly there was some incorrect third party information. Instead you’re directed to take the public bus from the airport and get off a few stops down. The hotel refunds you the few euro for the ticket (at least, on arriving…). The public bus turned up not too long after I arrived. So far so good. Here’s where it turns south, you get on and it eventually turns onto the highway, leaving you not exactly close at all. You have to drag your (hopefully small) luggage up and over the pedestrian overpass then it’s back another 100 metres. At this stage you realise this whole airport hotel wasn’t really designed for people coming from the airport. It’s not backbreaking but you’re paying for the miserable privilege.
The hotel has a nondescript frontage, besides it’s sign that glows warmly at night.
Each room in the property is the same, there are no suites here, it’s pretty much all uniform. The space is entirely average and acceptable. I’m not sure how old the property is but everything was clean and well maintained. Floor was carpeted, furnishings had a light wood grain and the rather Spanish red accent. A small desk and TV were somewhat token efforts. The bathroom includes a bath, so points for that. Typical of a Holiday Inn Express, most amenities are provided on request. For some an important thing in a property like this are the curtains. If you’re arriving at some random time from South America having not slept the last day in economy, you may want it dark. There were three layers of curtains here, so they meet the definition but the implementation was poor, light breached through the sides. Outside in the empty patch of industrial land was a large billboard that lit up and shone through at night, so at least half the room will be affected by this. Bring your eye mask if you’re sensitive.
Breakfast isn’t properly served until 7 AM. A bit late I felt, but there was an early simple breakfast available of fruit and yoghurt etc. from 4 AM I believe. I figured I could leave just after 7 and be comfortably early for my flight so I had my bag packed and ready to walk with me during breakfast. I arrived before 7 and there is just one family finishing up. I grabbed what was already available expecting more to come out at 7. Well the one staff member starting bringing more food out, but it was more of the same. A few breads and spreads but all pretty plain. Suddenly a lot of people came to eat however. I decided to give up and leave and try my luck at the VIP lounge in Malaga Airport.
After breakfast gave my card back and walked straight out hoping to make the bus, would help if they posted the times in the hotel. The stop toward the airport is at least closer, only 50 metres away. Unfortunately, I did miss the bus by just a minute and even though it’s morning peak traffic, the next bus wouldn’t be for another half hour. The distance was a twenty metre walk although I couldn’t be sure of the terrain. It really was not ideal with my luggage. A smaller piece may have been less problematic but if you have two bags just don’t bother. The walk was mostly paved and past maybe fifty different car rental and offsite parking businesses. Occasionally you had to share the major road with traffic. When approaching the terminal, I noticed there was a pedestrian bridge over to the onsite long term carpark, just once again had to negotiate a large ramp going back and forth. Eventually over the major road. Once at the airport carpark it was a tiled undercover elevated walkway the rest of the way. With travelators but none of them worked/were turned on of course.
In the end of it there are some logistical issues that would make me strongly recommend going into town or any other decent property. It’s location near the airport is the selling point yet it is not easy to get to/from without a car. Great for people using it in that way but for transiting between flights, buyer beware. Malaga is full of low cost airlines and travel options, at least I wasn’t this guy…