Stayed in the Hilton in Adelaide as usual – unfortunately it’s the only Adelaide hotel on the IBM approved list.
Back in it’s day (the 1970’s !!), it was a great hotel with a great reputation and international brand name. It’s a pity that over 25 years later, it’s only just undergone refurbishment (not yet complete either !!) – and as such is very old and tired. The refurbished rooms are a bit Ikea, which is not a bad thing, but they haven’t spent any money on the bathrooms, which are still of 1970s quality.
The room I was in had not been refurbished yet, and the bed they gave me felt like it was all of 25 years old as well. The desk and chair were worn and chipped, and overall it had a worse feel than some of the cheap 2.5 star hotels I’ve staying at in regional areas.
Just like the Hilton in Brisbane and so I’ve heard, Melbourne as well, they are simply living on their international reputation which has been waning for the last couple of decades. They really cannot compete with the Hyatts, Marriots, Starwoods (Sheraton, Westin), and Shangri-Las of the world (just to name a few), all of which have really high quality and modern product.
I’d really like to try some of the other hotels in Adelaide since I know there are some really good ones there. I’ve got to try and convince IBM to add some other hotels to the approved list for Adelaide. Until then, I guess the best bet will be to hope that the Hilton is completely booked out during one of my trips so I don’t have a choice but to stay elsewhere.
I’ve had a few problems with the service at the Hilton too – they frequently make mistakes with their check in procedures and this trip they initially put me in a smoking room (which really really stank) due to a mixup with my profile. They changed me to a better room without a fuss, but this is not the first time it’s happened here, and I really expect better from an international class hotel.
I must admit though, that at almost all of the hotels I’ve stayed at where I’ve complained about the service in some way, this is never a problem with the concierge staff or the doorman. These people are almost always ready and eager to help, and my dealings with them are almost always very pleasant. It’s the administrative or room service staff which I sometimes have problems with. Go the concierge !
That being said, there are some redeeming qualities about the Hilton. Like all Hiltons they have gone to a bit of trouble with their breakfasts – actually promoting it as a destination all on its own. They encourage people to come just for the breakfast or even come for an overnight package with breakfast included. As such, Sunday mornings are usually very busy in the restaurant with many people taking advantage of the pretty good buffet they put on.
On Saturday morning I invited some of my old friends from Uni to join me for breakfast, and it was really nice to catch up with people over a relaxing meal.
I’ll get to the ratings for further comment…
Room: 5/10 – functional, clean, minimalist, reasonable size, nice views over Victoria Square, but with marginally adequate desk and chair and and old tired feel to the decor. A couple of lounge chairs which were really not that comfortable and a coffee table as well – which I guess is more than what many hotels provide. Bathroom small and pokey, but clean and functional. The other rooms that have already been refurbished are improved (I’d probably give them a 7/10), but the lack of changes in the bathroom and the fact that they haven’t completed the refurb yet (or more the point that they put me in an unrefurbished room because I complained about the smoking room) means that I really don’t think they deserve more than 5/10
Bed: 3/10 – similar to the hotel we stayed at recently in Hong Kong, waking up with a sore back or sore neck does not serve you well for the coming day. However this time the problem was the opposite – a bed that was so soft I reckon when I sat on it my bum hit the floor. I suspect this bed is as old as the hotel – and really is not suitable. The pillows were not terribly comfortable either. Again, given how well most other hotels seem to go with the beds and pillows, I don’t think there is any excuse at all for such crappy rooms. Many people would look at my reviews and think I’m a travel snob (my wife does !!) – and I agree to a certain extent, but when you travel so much it’s the little things that make the difference and add to the pleasure of the experience. At the end of the day, all you really need is a good bed so you get a good nights sleep. I can’t understand how hotels which supply such a poor product in bed quality manage to stay in business. I guess it’s because people like me are forced to keep going back. *sigh*. Gotta get that approved hotel list changed !
TV: 6/10 – Regular channels plus CNN. Is this the new face of Australian hotels ? What’s with the lack of quality viewing for when you are stuck a long way from home with absolutely nothing to do and not a thing worth watching on TV. The least they could do would be do add some sports channels (not that I care about them) – or channels which will usually have something at least remotely interesting like Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel. Small TV, off to the side, which was viewable from the lounge chairs, but not terribly well from the bed (especially if there are two of you in bed – not that there were on this trip !!) – and not viewable at all from the desk.
Connectivity: 4/10 – Two phones, one by the bed and one on the desk, neither with a data port. A separate dataport by the desk was supplied, which would not provide a connection speed of more than about 28.8kbps – and frequently it came back with sub-20kbps connections which is totally unacceptable for a business traveller. sigh*. Gotta get that approved hotel list changed !
Breakfast: 9/10 – Like I said earlier, the Hilton chain have gone to a bit of trouble with their breakfast and are using this as a mechanism to lure people to their hotels – which is quite a reasonable strategy. What’s more they even go to the trouble of setting up a colour coded scheme for all of the foods they offer, so you can easily identify things that are suitable for your chosen breakfast type. From ultra healthy at one extreme, to the works at the other they clearly mark which options you should or should not choose, which is a nice change from the usual “take a guess” approach (or carrying around a reference guide which lets you know which foods you should or should not be eating), which you typically find when eating out. That being said, as one of my friends said to me over breakfast the other day, they come out to have a full hot breakfast with all the trimmings that go with it. They don’t come out to be made to feel guilty about what they are eating. I say you just need to learn to ignore the colour coding !! The food was good quality, well prepared, and they will gladly prepare you something special on request. They supply fresh squeezed orange juice – which they bring to you and refil just like they would for tea and coffee) – which I think is a really nice touch.
Room Service: Not evaluated. Why bother when there are so many other great places to eat in Adelaide, with some of them just around the corner on Gouger street.
Location: 10/10 – you could argue that being closer to the railway station, or Rundle Mall, or Rundle Street, or for that matter Glenelg or the Barossa. But the location is very good, being very centrally located on Victoria Square – with all the Gouger Street restaurants nearby and of course, who could forget the Central Markets.
I went for a wander through the Central Markets at lunchtime on Friday and it must be 10-15 years since I’ve done so. I was reminded again why they are so highly regarded by the locals – such an amazing supply of fresh produce and delicatessen goods – the sights and the smells are just amazing. It’s the kind of place which makes you want to walk through the food stalls just to see the fantastic quality of such fresh fruit and vegetables, and to sense the evocative aromas from the many different types of food. Freshly ground coffees, freshly baked breads, roasting nuts, cheeses, continental sausages cooking, even just the smell of the fresh fruit and vegetables themselves is intoxicating. There are stores dedicated to just muchrooms, another to cheeses of the world (some really exotic stuff there), yet another store specialising in sausages (you can really see the german influence on the town).
What’s more, heading further through the markets and into Chinatown, you come across several food courts with food from an incredible array of Asian regions, Chinese (several different types), Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Filipino (is that how you write it ?), and many more. Only in asia proper have I seen such a large and diverse collection of asian eateries – nowhere else in Australia have I come across it to this degree. I was impressed by the selection as well as by the number of locals (of all races) dining there at lunchtime. It was enough to make me regret not ever working in the Adelaide CBD when I lived here.
So, I really cannot fault the location of the Hilton at all – it’s easy to get to, and with the historic Glenelg tram right out the front door, it’s easy to get down to the beach as well. Rundle Mall and Rundle Street, and the North Terrace arts precinct are all a gentle stroll away (or you could catch a bus very easily) – so it’s a great place to be located.
If only the Adelaide Hilton could produce a better quality product in its rooms and sort out some of the issues that have with administration, then I think they could have a great hotel which would be a pleasure to stay in.
Hint for the Hilton – if they provided broadband access to the rooms – even if you had to pay for it – I would probably choose to stay there over a higher quality hotel which did not – simply for the convenience.
Total: 37/60 = 62%