by Amanda Geronikos
When you reserve a room at a Holiday Inn, you typically expect to find basic accommodations, complimentary breakfast and a swimming pool.
That’s not the case at Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach, which surprises with three swimming pools, three onsite restaurants, a movie theater, children’s activity center and gift shop. Plus, all rooms and suites, which were renovated in 2010, feature balconies and refrigerators, and many offer ocean views. Situated in two towers — North and South — many of the units also sleep up to six guests.
The hotel’s oceanfront location is great, with close proximity to area attractions, but what’s even better is that it’s not at the center of town (the busy, tourist area starts at 30th Street), and therefore provides a quiet atmosphere compared to other hotels on Atlantic Avenue, the main strip.
For more information, visit Holiday Inn.
Our Editor Loves
- Oceanfront location
- Three onsite restaurants
- Pools, kids' activity center and movie theater
- Water Parks
- Children Programs
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
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The hotel's spacious rooms and suites were renovated in 2010, and now flaunt aqua blues and lime greens, emanating the tropical appeal you expect from an oceanfront property. Our only complaint is that none of the bathrooms have tubs. Room 301, which is a two Queen Beds Accessible Room, is the only unit that offers a tub.
All rooms feature balconies (with chairs), desks, flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, irons and ironing boards, mini-fridges, microwaves and coffee and tea makers. Bathrooms offer hairdryers and Bath and Body Works toiletries. Cribs and rollaway beds are available upon request; cribs are complimentary and rollaway beds cost a small fee, plus tax, per day. Connecting units are also available.
A family of four would fit comfortably in the standard questrooms with ocean or pool views. Two queen beds or a king bed is offered in the standard rooms.
A larger group wanting more space may opt for a suite, which offers king or queen beds and a sleeper sofa in the living room. A Deluxe Suite also has two balconies.
This hotel has indoor and outdoor pools. We went to the indoor pool for about 15 minutes before it felt like we were breathing noxious fumes. My throat and nostrils were burning and I had a chemical/metallic taste and smell deep in my nose for hours. The front desk said it was normal for indoor saltwater pools. When I informed them this was not the case at our rec center’s indoor sw pool, they said it’s probably a different sized pool. Unfortunately they chose to brush the issue under the rug before they had even walked out from behind the desk. Now that it’s raining, we can’t go swimming. Aside from poor housekeeping and subpar food, the pool and lack of action by the GM is the reason I would not book here if I had known before we prepaid. DO NOT SPEND MONEY HERE UNLESS YOU LIKE INHALING BURNING BATTERIES MIXED WITH STEAM. I suspect this is why they have temporary HVAC equipment in the facility.
by K A
So you know how sometimes events give you a forewarning that things may not turn out the way you assumed they would? You know, a series of cascading events where red flags keep emerging and in spite of the glaring evidence staring you in the face, that things are slowly going downhill, you continue to remain cautiously optimistic?
This was the experience my wife and I shared during our stay at the Holiday Inn and Suites North Beach on the shores of Virginia Beach over the Labor Day weekend.
First Red Flag: We pulled into the lobby parking lot and as my wife and I emerged from our vehicle one of two Valet Parking Attendants approached our vehicle and blocked me from completely leaving my vehicle stating we could not stay here and had to leave. I calmly responded with ‘we have confirmed reservations and are here to check in’ to which he replied “you can’t park here or stay here and need to find another hotel”.
Keep in mind it’s late August, it’s Virginia Beach, it’s extremely hot and humid and we’ve just completed a very long drive so this gentlemen’s words are starting to grate my patience (as my wife nervously looked on with growing concern in her eyes). I repeated in a more assertive tone that we had confirmed reservations and were here to check in. At this point the attendant glared at me and walked over to his fellow attendant to request guidance and was told to go get a vehicle for a couple waiting to leave. The (senior) attendant walked over and apologized stating his colleague was new to the job and assumed we were attempting to coerce our way into the hotel. Coerce?
Second Red Flag: After checking in we were told by the assistant hotel manager that the main hotel elevator was of out of commission and that we needed to find the second elevator located next to the Square Whale Restaurant. After waiting 20 minutes for a luggage carrier, we maneuvered down a long and poorly lit narrow passageway, dogging past hotel guests entering and leaving various guest services along the route until we arrived at a long line of exacerbated hotel guests waiting for the elevator. The area was hot and humid and was what one would expect this time of year – outside.
Once in the elevator the heat and humidity was intolerable and aside from being packed like sardines, the journey to our 7th floor room was an exercise in patience, stamina and tolerance. Emerging from the elevator we walked to our room, bathed in sweat and experiencing even more heat as the panoramic windows lining the entire length of the hallway magnified the sun and of course, the space was not air-conditioned.
Third Red Flag: After spending the afternoon walking the boardwalk we decided to retire to our room and call for room service. Little did we know at the time this would be an exercise in futility as my wife spent over an hour attempting to get a person to take our request. The phone number for room service would either immediately go to a busy signal or would ring several times then go to a busy signal. In the end we ordered from Grub Hub and paid an exorbitant amount of money for nachos and wings. I mentioned this to the assistant manager the following day and he stated he’s had the same problem then gave us the number to the bar and wished us luck.
Fourth Red Flag: The following day we had breakfast next to the hotel and when we returned there were two uniformed gentlemen standing outside the elevator attempting to manually jimmy the elevator doors open. I asked what the issues was and was told “we’re attempting to determine the problem’. I would later find out by our room attendant these gentlemen were hotel maintenance personnel and not elevator technicians.
Fifth Red Flag: Several hours later we returned to our hotel and after waiting quite some time for the elevator we entered and were joined by a young family at which point we promptly selected ours and their floor numbers. The elevator made it to the 4th floor then with a jarring motion accompanied by a short metal on metal screeching sound abruptly stopped operating. We pressed several floor numbers in an attempt to get the elevator to move, however it was not to be. The family we were with had small children and justifiably started to panic along with mom and dad. Finally after pressing the open door button numerous times the doors opened and with a sigh of relief we quickly exited this safety hazard. My wife and I used the stairs to get to the 7th floor and to put it delicately, she was not happy
Final Flag: We visited the pool facing the ocean and upon arrival discovered that hotel guests had parked their towels on most of the prime seating and lounging areas then promptly disappeared. Something of a ‘squatters’ rights situation. This led to a shortage of desirable seating areas around the pool so we ended waiting a considerable amount of time until finally securing a place for both of us to lounge side by side.
On the plus side our room was nice, the bed comfortable, the fridge operational and the air conditioning more than adequate. We will however never return to this hotel and are extremely disappointed in this IHG managed lodging venue.
With the beach just steps away, what more can you want? Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach answers this question with several activities.
The hotel has three onsite swimming pools. The largest one is located outside, at the back of the hotel, and just a few steps from the beach. It's complemented by a small poolside bar and nifty lights that appear to change the water's color at night. The other outdoor pool, Splish Splash Lagoon, is located adjacent to the hotel and is geared toward kids. Here, you'll find two 12-foot waterslides, waterfalls, a play area and lazy river. An additional lazy river with waterfalls, which is four feet deep and heated, can be found inside, along with a hot tub. Both the hot tub and lazy river are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, year-round. All of the pools are ADA compliant.
Another fun feature is the hotel's onsite movie theater, which seats 48 people. Family-friendly movies are played throughout the day, with the last showing at 8 p.m.
Next to the movie theater, you'll also find Splash Camp, a seasonal activity center for kids. Supervised by a hotel staff member, children -- from preschoolers to teens -- engage in games, arts and crafts and more.
This is the hotel's breakfast spot, open from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. daily. It offers a traditional menu, but the buffet, which is better than average, is the most popular option for diners. It includes an omelet and waffle station (serviced by hotel staff), along with eggs, potatoes, sausage, bacon, biscuits (with gravy, if you'd like), oatmeal (upon request), cereal, fruit and pastries. There's usually some sort of breakfast casserole, too. There is a buffet fee per adult, and up to four children under age 12 eat free from a separate Kids Eat Free menu.
The Square Whale
Located next to the main pool, this place is casual and offers both indoor and outdoor seating, the latter with a view of the beach. The menu features mostly sandwiches and salads (try the Turkey and Avocado Wrap), but there's also a small selection of full entrees (salmon, chicken parmesan and more). Kids age 12 and under eat free from the Kids Eat Free Menu, which includes chicken tenders and the like. The Square Whale is open seasonally.
Isle of Capri
Located on the top floor of the South Tower, Isle of Capri features an elegant setting with floor-to-ceiling windows and consequent ocean views. This is not a place for youngsters, but your well-behaved tweens and teens will be okay to dine here. The fare is Italian, with mostly traditional dishes, such as chicken marsala, manicotti and fettucine alfredo. Appetizers, salads and soups are also served, along with a selection of specials, drinks and desserts. The dress code is Business Casual and reservations are recommended.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Onsite conveniences include an ATM, business center with computers and printers and a complimentary laundry facility.
Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach has a small fitness room with treadmills, elliptical machines and free weights. The gym features a pool view (the pool is literally right outside the window), so you can keep an eye on your well-trained swimmers.
Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property, and works well. You'll likely have to re-sign in to use it every time you launch your browser though, as is the case with many hotels.
There is a small gift shop (really just a corner in the lobby) with candy, snacks and medicine (such as Tylenol, for those inevitable post-sun headaches).
If you need a babysitter, the hotel's staff can recommend a local service.
The Art of Smart Timing
Virginia Beach is a summer destination, busiest from May through Labor Day. The crowds -- and the rates -- lessen after kids go back to school, but most area hotels, including Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach, sell out on weekends through Columbus Day. This is mainly because of large events, including the Virginia Beach Neptune Festival and the Mid-Atlantic Shrine Association Convention. You'll find the lowest rates during the winter, but you also won't find much to do, as many attractions and restaurants are seasonally operated.
If you're traveling by plane, you'll want to fly into Norfolk International Airport, which is about 30 minutes from the Holiday Inn & Suites North Beach. Next, hop on the airport shuttle (operated by James River Transportation and located in the Arrivals Terminal) to Virginia Beach.
Most of Virginia Beach's visitors come from other parts of the Mid-Atlantic region. If you're one of them, you'll likely have to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which stretches 20 miles and has a toll. Credit and debit cards are accepted for payment.
Once you're at the hotel, you can park in a designated garage across the street; you'll receive a tag to hang on your rearview mirror upon arrival. Valet parking is also available.
Leave your car at the hotel and walk if you can do it. It's easy to get around Virginia Beach by foot, with a boardwalk that runs 40 blocks along Atlantic Avenue. It's also easy to navigate the town by car, though it gets congested in the summer and parking is often sparse.
For Mom and Dad
Treat yourselves to reasonably priced tapas at Pacifica, located just across the street from the hotel (behind 7-11). The restaurant's dim-lit atmosphere is both hip and romantic, and the food is absolutely delicious. The grilled peaches, cheese plate, wings and hummus are among our favorites. Pacifica also features an extensive beer selection. Speaking of beer, the 7-11 sells wine and beer to enjoy while you watch the sun set from your balcony.