The Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar located in Sambuu Street 24 in the Chingeltei District is the first and only IHG property in Mongolia. The property debuted in late 2016 with 169 rooms and is notable for being only the 4th IHG property to feature the new open lobby concept that is being propagated by the Holiday Inn brand.
During a late winter visit to Mongolia, I had the chance to check out the new property. The Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar may have been open for only a few months but the taxi drivers over at the airport had no problems identifying the place. Speaking of airport taxi drivers, if you do decide to get one from Chinggis Khan International Airport, as a rule of thumb you should not be paying more than MNT 20,000 for the ride to the city from the airport. Location-wise, the hotel is about a 10 minute walk from the State Department Store and 5 minute walk to Gandem Monastery.
The Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar has all the trappings of a Holiday Inn you’ll find anywhere else in the world and more. Their bellhop doubles as a lobby greeter and part-time concierge. If you do need any help with transport, the associates by the reception are valuable sources of information and can help to call taxi services in order for you not to get ripped off (unfortunately a common problem with taxis in Ulaanbaatar). Alternatively, there is also an LCD touch screen monitor by the lobby displaying things you need to know about Ulaanbaatar in general such as the weather and other simple information. I was told this touch screen monitor is being incorporated in Holiday Inn hotels around the world but it was the first time I encountered it.
My room for this particular stay at Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar was an Executive Suite which had a separate living area and a spacious work desk in the bedroom. From my observation, there was one of these suites in each floor.
At 55 square meters, the suite itself had plenty of storage space. You will be greeted with a cabinet as you enter the living room and you will find another wardrobe provision inside the bedroom. You might first wonder about the merits of so much wardrobe space but if you happen to be staying in Ulaanbaatar during winter like me, you’ll soon realize how handy it is to be able to hang the six layer of clothes you’ll need to survive the -20 degrees celsius weather outside.
As a regular with IHG hotels, I immediately found myself in familiar ground upon seeing the room layout and decor. The concept is quite minimalist and functional as with other Holiday Inn hotels with plenty of beige and heavy usage of wood. The furnishings create a very neat look. You get a sofa set and a spacious table with a 40 inch LCD TV in the living room. The TVs in the Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar are also supposedly the very first in Mongolia with the Smart TV function, definitely a most welcome amenity as I was able to mirror the TV screens to my mobile device.
The minibar carries a number of drinks and snacks – all priced very reasonably. A can of soft drink for instance was not more than US$2. A look at the in-room dining menu also revealed some pretty inexpensive meal options. Most dishes averaged about US$5 to 6 – not a bad idea for late-night hunger pangs.
The bedroom was an all too familiar sight to with that trademark green Holiday Inn bed runner. This side of the suite is spacious enough to have its own armchair and a spacious work desk – a departure from other suite layouts I’ve encountered elsewhere where the work desk is located in the living area. I also found another 40 inch TV here inside the bedroom replete with smart functions such as screen mirroring.
The bathroom in the Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar is quite special for having one of those seat warmer toilets. For a country as cold as Mongolia, you’d be surprised that even some of the luxury hotels here don’t offer this amenity. In the Executive Suite, you do get a separate shower area with a rain shower. You will also find a bathtub which interestingly enough has its own showers as well. All in all, the bathroom in the Executive Suite is quite luxurious and even comes with a his and hers sink.
During my stay at the Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar, I also got to see the other room types. I do realize that as the property is still new, there aren’t a whole lot of guest photos of the different room types so I’ll share them here:
I did not get to see the fitness center as this was still under construction during the time of my stay. I was also told the Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar will have an Executive Lounge at the topmost floor but this was also still under construction as of this writing. Once it opens, it will be one of the very few (perhaps only?) 4-star hotel in Ulaanbaatar to have a club lounge offering benefits such as evening cocktails and continental breakfast.
For those looking to hold a business event, the property also has a modest meeting room.
Open Lobby at Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar
Breakfast is served at the Open Lobby. As I mentioned previously, there is a move by Holiday Inn to standardize the all-day dining restaurants into an open lobby concept. The one at Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar offers a peek at how it might look like elsewhere.
The look is quite hip and modern, a departure from the old-school grandeur that you see in other Ulaanbaatar hotels. The open lobby also consists of a couple of sections. First is the conventional dining space. Then you also get a bar. Finally, for those looking to chill, you have a more masculine-looking lounge area.
During my time at Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar, I also got to have dinner at Open Lobby. The restaurant has a distinct focus on western dishes with classic dishes such as carbonara, spaghetti and other types of pasta interspersing with steak and hamburgers.
While not strictly a Mongolian restaurant, you can sample the local staple – khushuur – which is made up of ground lamb stuffed into fried dough.
I also had breakfast at Open Lobby during my stay. The buffet spread was simple which was understandable as I was there during the low season. As far as I know, it’s common practice in Mongolia to vary the breakfast spread depending on occupancy levels as there are seasons where there aren’t enough guests to justify a full buffet spread.
In this regard, you still get the full spectrum where hotel breakfast buffets are concerned. There was a section for cereal, pastries, fruits as well as a couple of hot items such as sausages, bacon, beans and french toast. For a Holiday Inn, the breakfast was sufficient.
In terms of the hard product, the spanking new Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar offers a peek as to the direction the Holiday Inn brand is heading. I had a fuss-free stay and the hotel delivers as a 4 star property. Compared to other hotels in Mongolia, you might find this hotel to be more technologically advanced – with nifty amenities such as the Mac station at the lobby to the smart TVs in each room and the toilets with seat warmers. If you are looking for a mid-range western style hotel in Ulaanbaatar, you’d probably be hard-pressed to find one that resonates as strongly as this one.
Holiday Inn Ulaanbaatar
Sambuu Street 24
Ulaanbataar, Mongolia 15141
Phone: +976 7014 2424
You can read more of my hotel reviews here.