Our next trip to Bahrain came on the 1st of January, right after we discovered that both the Mrs and myself have the rest of the week off for the new year, we got into a fast decision to head back to Bahrain and enjoy the rest of the previous weekend.
We converted our STC Qitaf points and had enough to get us 3 nights at the Ibis
Seef Hotel, those who know me, know how much I appreciate the model of Ibis, and the brand in general. The brand recently expanded its line to cover several different clientele, from the Red Ibis, to Styles, and the Ibis Budget, which was previously accor’s Etap Hotels.
This transition turned Ibis into a group within a group, allowing Accor to expand the Ibis brand, as a multi-tier economy directed hotel.
We got to the hotel at the afternoon, and tried making our way to the indoor parking, just to discover that it only opens up with the room card, a very fair move given that some people tend to abuse the establishment’s parking to do other chores. We parked in an open space outside and made our way in to the lobby. Ibis doesn’t provide luggage assistance, guests are to use their own trolleys to get their stuff up to their room, we were welcomed by courteous and professional front office staff, who welcomed us to Ibis with a smile; the hotel lobby is spacious, and compliments the living space approach that Ibis is implementing across their brand. Christmas decoration was still on, so the feeling of a wintery Christmassy feeling was indeed filling up the space, we received our room card and our wifi code, and up we head to our room.
Ibis’ rooms are almost similar across the world, compact size, purpose directed type of room, with a double sized bed (Oh we are so spoiled with king size), a tiny shower with no amenities, an empty minibar with no complimentary water and a TV. Next to our bed was a small closet and a safe, and that’s about it. The point of Ibis’ model is to provide travellers with a more economical option, by taking away all the frills, and giving you a clean, modern, comfortable sleep, and then off you go with your exploration, with a promise of much lower rates than its full service competitors, yet when Is look into today’s rates at expedia.com, I realize that 1 night at Ibis Seef stands now at $59++, while the 4.1 rated Wyndham Garden is at $67++.
Now, you might ask yourself, why am I comparing Ibis with a 4 stars establishment, well, the plaque outside the hotel, identifies Ibis as a 4 stars hotel, and that’s where the comparison begins. You see, had the hotel been officially recognized as 3 stars, it would have made perfect sense, from the (do it yourself approach), to the economical rooms, small beds, no frills experience, all the way to the sense and feel of the hotel, but when you get that 4th star, you will already and immediately be compared with others, and Bahrain has a lot of good players in the 4* game, from the above mentioned Wyndham, the 4.0 rated $69 Best Western, to the $71 a night Swiss Bel-Hotel, all are within price reach of Ibis with plenty of more amenities, and with much bigger beds. Here’s the thing, 2 bottles of water + personal amenities, already adds up to the $8 difference between the two facilities.
You see, once you get that 4th star, I will start complaining about the small bed, the tough mattress, the not so plush pillows, the lack of amenities, even the size of the room becomes a question to me, all with the fact that I wouldn’t even look at them if you were a 3 stars within a budget rate. Red Ibis fits perfect in the 3 stars world, but in the 4 stars, it just feels weird.
Yet, don’t get me wrong, Ibis is a straight to the point brand, you come, you sleep, you wake up, and off you go with your day, only to come back for more sleep/rest, anything beyond that can either happen if a pool exists or within the lobby, but do not expect a cloudy big mattress that you can throw yourself at.
Will I get back to Ibis though? Hmm, not really if the rates are within the $10-15 from the decent 4 star players in the country, yet if Ibis has a decent offer which can never be resisted, then of course I’ll be back, after all, who spends his day in a hotel? It’s just weird!Read more