Hilton Adelaide – 5 star Ibis with IKEA accents
I’m not a big fan of the Hilton chain. There, I’ve said it. Read on with that in mind.
I spent two weekend nights (Friday and Saturday) on a family visit with my partner at the Hilton on Victoria Square in the centre of Adelaide, South Australia.
This hotel has resonances for me. When I lived in Adelaide, its arrival in the early 80’s (I think) meant that my home town had made it in the sophistication stakes. Not only did we have Australia’s pre-eminent cultural festival, but now the international recognition of the Hilton chain.
It was the glam hotel of the town. In fact the only official 5 star establishment. Added to that, it opened a stunning restaurant ‘The Grange’ with the famous head chef Chong Liew (formerly of Neddy’s [1975 to 1988] – the go-to place for Adelaide foodies in the 70’s and 80’s.)
Why the Hilton?
Well, normally travelling alone to Adelaide, I stay with my mother. Now, 91 (my mother, not me), having too many guests is a bit overwhelming, so we (I was travelling with my partner) opted for a hotel. We weren’t planning on spending much time at the hotel – so comfort and a reasonable location were the guidelines. Our options were three: the new Mayfair Hotel (around the AU$220 mark for a King Bed room), the Intercontinental [formally Grand Hyatt], (only suites left at around AU$900) and the Hilton at more like AU$146/night.
The Adelaide Hilton sits on the newly redesigned Victoria Square in the town planned centre of the city. Behind it are the wonderful Adelaide Markets, Chinatown, and quite a good collection of restaurants.
Late in 2015, the hotel finished a major refurbishment of its public spaces (except the interior of the lifts – it would seem).
Incredibly outdated, its-about-to-be-retro moulded glass side panels in the Adelaide Hilton lift interiors.
And they didn’t exactly lavish attention and design on the lift foyers either.
Not a lamp, or a credenza, or a seat, or plant, or a side table, or even a picture – nothing in the lift foyer but dark grey paint.
With a combination of web research, and a quick call to the hotel (always pays to foster a relationship with the staff!) We were told that any room after the 5th floor would be refurbished. We ended up on the 10th and accepted a paid ($25) upgrade offer to a corner room. I’m not entirely sure it was worth it.
12th-floor corner room got us at least 2 of the scrawny windows.
The room was refurbished, but with absolutely no wall decoration – a bit like that lift foyer above. No pictures and nothing but a serviceable vertical mirror by the bathroom door. The windows in the room are tiny, but we got two compared to the usual one per room.
The room is kind of five star basic. It has everything you need but is a bit of a style free zone. Weirdly, the doona (duvet or comforter) was placed the wrong way round within the cover
As you can see the colour palette is kind of brown, with brown, and off-white, and then a little more light brown with wood highlights. All perfectly serviceable, with a good desk, office chair, and reading lights over the bed, bedside tables and guest chair.
Wardrobes with recessed handles at the entrance.
The entrance contains a three door wardrobe, with safe, shelves, but no drawers.
Hairdryer, shoe-shine, slippers, shelves and safe. One of those annoying ones you have to enter your number each time you open and close
A bench ran down most of one wall with cupboards, Luggage rack, and TV stand. Everything worked and was serviceable, except the TV. What is it with hotel room TV’s and their remotes? Slow to react to input, and kind of annoying. We did watch a movie, but I couldn’t work out how to pause or rewind or anything.
The room had a built in ‘bar’ area with drawers, fridge and cupboards below, and glass shelf above. It cried out for a coffee machine! Instead, we just got a kettle.
Fridge, shelf, bar, drawers, kettle, glasses, cups, tea and coffee, sugar, wine and bottle opener. And a sound leaky connecting door.
The bar drawer and fridge were well stocked:
Standard snack junk food selection. Who can stay in a hotel room without consuming the Pringles?
Haven’t seen this many teenage targeted premixed drinks in a hotel fridge ever, nor that much beer and water.
It looks like all the corner rooms have adjoining room doors. I doubt there was any sound proofing other than the double doors. I could have told you word for word the phone conversation the guy on the other side was having. It really frustrates me that an international hotel group with just shy of a century of experience (Conrad bought his first hotel in 1919) can still get something as basic as sound proofing between adjoining rooms so wrong.
Desk in corner. If I had been trapped in Adelaide for a few days working, this would have been a more than adequate workspace with a proper office chair, and a surface that doesn’t require a mouse mat to make my computer work.
Adelaide Hilton did get the desk right. This would have been a great space to work in if this had been a business trip, rather than a family trip. The proper office chair, meant no phone call to reception to get them to scurry around to find an office chair, that I find I consistently have to do at most hotel chains – particularly at Hyatt hotels.
Another blank wall.
The bathroom size spoke of another era. It was fairly small, but in the refurbishment, they had installed a large walk in shower that occupied most of the short side of the room opposite the bathroom basin and bench.
Modernised bathroom. Small, but nearly perfectly formed. Those towels on the right are the ones we paid for – disappeared the next morning.
My partner had ordered extra towels (for which he was charged a fee) as part of the pre-arrival procedure for the hotel. Besides never having been charged for extra towels at a 5 star hotel before – this was apparently only a one-night-thing, as they were whisked away the next day.
Rain shower in the ceiling and hand held shower with three settings, including ‘pulse’. Water saving, but effective. Those towels are the ones we didn’t pay extra for.
This was a one person bathroom, but it worked rather well, although it did feel a bit like a cave with the dark brown tiles and floor.
Peter Thomas Roth toiletries. Good packaging design, and a step above that June Jacobs brand that Hyatt pollutes its bathrooms with. Interestingly, if you go to ‘his’ website it looks like the two brands are stablemates.
Robes were on the freakishly alien thin side, but towelling was comfortable and on the soft side of hotel harsh.
Slightly skimpy robe, power outlets, shaving mirror, redundant electrical outlet or something, and those paid for towels again.
Bars and Restaurants
We didn’t eat in the hotel, but we did sample The Collins Bar cocktail lounge, and the foyer bar/lounge area. Both are situated in the newly refurbished ground floor. In both instances, you have to order at the bar, although they do deliver drinks to your table. Both had that sort of transient feel that a lot of hotel spaces have, but both had great potential as destinations, and I hope they are abuzz during the festival and other event times.
The hotel foyer lounge. Comfortable space. We had a drink here on the Saturday night. Order at the bar and drinks are served to your table. Photo from Hilton
This is the lounge area of The Collins Bar, which you enter from inside the hotel, but is separate to the hotel. Beautiful design, and quite comfortable. Would be improved by table service, but that copper light fitting is stunning. Photo from Hilton.
The hotel has conference spaces, a restaurant, gym facilities and a club lounge – none of which we sampled. The hotel has no in-house car parking, but does offer valet parking – although the service requires 20 minutes notice. On our visit, the Bell captain let us park in the driveway on several occasions as long as it was under an hour or two.
Check In or Check Out
Location wise, pretty good, with lots of food options and the wonderful Adelaide Markets close by.
A refurbishment within an existing hotel shell always means compromises. The rooms and especially the bathrooms are on the smallish side by modern five star standards.
Our Deluxe King ticked a lot of boxes, particularly for business travellers. Windows are on the small side. Decor is on the spartan side, with fixtures and fittings feeling a bit Ikea in contrast to the beautiful and cosy public spaces. That is excepting the room floor lift foyers, which just felt dark, empty and oppressive, and the lifts themselves, which were just a time-warp to the 80’s.
It’s a 5 star hotel because of its features, but more like a 5 star Ibis, with IKEA accents, but a good option at the price – so value for money.
Summary It's a 5 Star hotel because of its features, but more like a 5 Star Ibis, with IKEA accents, but a good option at the price