When we’re booking a roadside hotel, we know what to expect. It won’t make a difference if we’re at a Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn or Holiday Inn Express, as every hotel will provide a room and free breakfast. Sure, some hotels have a small pool and possibly an interesting view that’s more than the nearby interstate.
When you’re staying away from a major thoroughfare, there’s a chance you’ll find something more captivating. That’s what happened when we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Walnut Creek, CA.
Located in the East Bay area of San Francisco, Walnut Creek is 16 miles east of Oakland. Since we had a nearby event, it wasn’t convenient to stay in San Francisco or Oakland. Hotels in Berkley were crazy expensive, so booking a room in Walnut Creek made the most sense. I booked the Holiday Inn Express using a free night certificate from our IHG credit card + 30K points for the 2nd night.
This is the hotel where I accidentally booked the free night certificate for the wrong day and the hotel staff manually adjusted the stay. Up until we checked in, I was worried that we’d have a problem. I’m happy to say that we didn’t and the hotel connected both reservations so we only had to exchange keys for the two-night stay.
Holiday Inn Express Walnut Creek
2730 North Main Street, Walnut Creek, CA
When we walked into the lobby, it was clear this wasn’t your typical HI Express.
Wow. Open spaces and two-story windows at a HI Express. It reminded me of the large windows we saw at the hotels in Yosemite National Park.
While the public spaces were different from what I envisioned, the room was exactly what you’d expect, which isn’t a bad thing. The hallway has a generic hotel design with splashes of color.
Entering the room, the aesthetic was above average. There’s a comfortable workspace with a desk & chair and a seperate table with chair. Why can’t more expensive hotels realize that’s all we want in a hotel room.
The bathroom was adequate, which is all that you need.
For breakfast, there’s the usual HI Express spread, including a pancake machine.
The outdoor spaces were very nice. It’s a large improvement over the “Swimming pool in a parking lot” feel you’ll find at most hotels in this category.
There’s a swimming pool and hot tub.
There are plenty of tables and chairs if you want to sit outside.
IHG puts Holiday Inn Express in its “Essentials” category. That’s a fitting title as that is what I want when staying at a hotel like this. If you provide a clean room with a comfortable bed and a place to sit and work or relax, I’m satisfied.
Most hotels in this range supply that bare minimum experience. However, every once in a while you’ll come across a property that gives you a little extra. Maybe it’s a better breakfast than you’d expect or sometimes the property itself is nicer than a cookie-cutter rectangle-shaped hotel.
I’m not going to go out of my way to stay here, but it was a pleasant surprise to get more than I expected from this hotel.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
Cover Photo from HI Express Walnut Creek’s website.