Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stay Report: InterContinental Dar Al Hijra, Madinah (April 2017)

Stay Report: InterContinental Dar Al Hijra, Madinah
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In my previous trips to Madinah, I had stayed at the Hilton which was located very close to the religious area but the rooms were not good and looked like they had not been updated since 1990.  Because of this, I looked for other hotels and found the Intercontinental – there are two InterCons located in Madinah; one was right next to the religious area while the other was a bit further away.  The reviews for the one next to the religious area were not good so we decided to pick the one that was a bit further away considering previous guests had given it high marks.
From the outside the hotel looked decent enough but on the inside the hotel looked older and had a really small lobby.  As you entered into the hotel, on the left was the concierge desk and straight ahead was the check-in desk.  Further towards the left was a seating area for both the lobby and small café.  Next to the café was the business center and further down were escalators which led to the second floor dining room.  As with the hotel in Makkah, this hotel was also booked as part of a tour package but I had emailed the hotel and was able to locate my reservation and add my IHG number.  For this reason, when I checked in I was greeted as an IHG member, given a welcome letter, and there was fruit and sweets located in the room.  Even though I had emailed the hotel about the reservation, it was a very long and complicated checkin process.  There were two staff behind the desk but neither seemed to a) know what was going on and b) neither seemed to have a good grasp of English which further delayed the process.  I finally checked in and received my keys to the room.  The elevators were located behind the checkin desks, but there were only two small elevators and it took a long time to get a free elevator.
Our room was located on the second floor, at the end of the hallway. The room itself was big in size, but had the same old décor and look as the hotel.  The room was shaped like an L, with long straight side that leads into the main room.  As you entered into the room, there was a small entryway which contained a table; on top of this table was the complimentary fruit and sweets.  The entryway led to a long hallway on the right hand side, which eventually led to the bedroom.  In the middle of the hallway, on the right hand side was the bathroom while on the left was the window which faced out onto the street.  The bathroom was a decent size and contained a sink, a toilet, a bidet and shower.  The shower was big but the sink area was compressed.  Further down the hallway was the bedroom area.
As were three individuals, the room contained three single beds.  As you entered into tone bed area, on the right was the closet and storage shelves.  The closet contained a safe, the ironing board and iron, while the shelves contained the mini bar and complimentary water.  Right next to the closet was the first bed – and there was not a lot of room between the bed and the closet.  On the other side of the bed was a nightstand which separated the first and second bed.  Next to the second bed was the third bed – and again there was little room between the two beds.  On the other side of the third bed was another window.  The beds were comfortable enough to provide a decent nights sleep.  Across from the beds, against the wall, was a desk, a TV on top of a set of drawers, and two chairs with a table in the middle.  The décor of the hotel and all of the amenities in the room looked old; the hotel phone looked old and sometimes did not work and there were a lack of plugs and no USB ports available. 
Amenities in the hotel included a business center, free WiFi, a restaurant, a café, and
concierge services.  The business center was a computer and a printer in a room; however, most times the door was locked so you needed to request the concierge to come and open the door.  There was free WiFi available in the room, but it was spotty and the login terminal sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t.  When it did work, the speeds were decent, but trying to get the WiFi to connect was a bit difficult.  As an IHG member, I received two complimentary drinks from the café.  I was going to order additional items, but again language and communication barriers prevented me from completing this task.  Breakfast was included with our room and this was available in the morning in the restaurant.  The restaurant was also decorated in the old décor and on the first day the breakfast had an odd layout which made it difficult to walk around – had there been more guests it would have been impossible to walk around.  Luckily the layout got better on the second day, but it still was not the best layout.  The selection available in Madinah was not as nice as Makkah and both the selection, freshness, and taste were average. 
As with the hotel in Makkah, the Madinah hotel had poor service and poor communication skills. The poor service started at checkin where they could not understand the information, it was right on the screen but they were mixing everything up.  The poor service continued when we tried to contact the front desk regarding an issue.  It took almost 30mins and at the end no one understood a single item.  Same thing happened when I wanted to request a late checkout; when I first approached the desk, the attendants English was not good and so just said “wait for manager”.  I had to come back when another attendant was there who did speak English.  It was extremely difficult to communicate with the staff for any issue.
Overall, it was a disappointing stay at the Intercontinental Madinah. The hotel was located farther away from all the other hotels so it was a longer walk to get the religious area.  Once you got the hotel, the service was poor and the hotel looked old.  In the end, there was nothing positive about the hotel.  There are other hotels which are closer to the religious area, so I would suggest to stay there; at least there is one positive aspect then.

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