Ibis Styles Palermo – A Review By Punam Mohandas
The Ibis Styles Palermo is quite conveniently located, although, being along a busy road near the port does mean there is some noise disturbance. One enters a rather large and business-like lobby through revolving doors, where the efficient ladies at the Front Desk make short order of the check-in formalities. Surprisingly, the Ibis Styles Palermo offers a 24-hour Reception service. The property is managed by Accor under the Ibis Styles brand, however, the owner, Signora Maria (who also owns the Ibis Styles Acireale) clearly has her own definite ideas on hotel design as well as service and has added some personal touches of her own – which make these two hotels rather singular when compared to other cookie-cutter Ibis Styles.
Accommodation at the Ibis Styles Palermo comprises of 123-keys separated into four categories, namely: Standard, Superior, Junior Suite and Suite. There are lifts in the hotel. All the door numbers are in red and pasted on crooked, giving them a zany look. Some of the rooms have a city view – although you can see the mountains in the distance – and the rest are port-facing; while the former may not have prepossessing views, they are certainly quieter as they are not on the main road.
The standard rooms are done up in a sea and navy blue colour scheme. There is a little alcove where the phone, radio switches and tea/coffee maker is placed. Renovation is on in phases and some of the standard category have had the bathrooms re-done in leaf green, with new tiling and bath tubs – yes! in an Ibis Styles!
The Superior rooms are much larger, with a slanted headboard against an orange wall backdrop. A metal chair and dustbin in red complete the modernistic touch for this room category. In fact, the chair design itself is quite interesting; it resembles a bunch of metal tubes which pass as the seat!
The Junior Suites are quite romantic, with the bathtub placed in the room itself and the same red chair and bin. The luggage rack and wardrobe can best be described as quirky; while the wardrobe is completely open, with just shelves and the hangers on a metal rod, the adjacent luggage rack has steps at different levels. A sliding door leads to the shower and washbasin area, with the WC and bidet separate. The shower cubicle is done up in alphabetical tiles.
The Suites are equipped with a sofa-cum-bed in red, dining table and the same quirky wardrobe. The bed has a red painted wall as backdrop, while the headboard is in an unusual slanty shape. It’s all very nouveau, with a geometric cut to the table and wall mirrors. The bathroom is quite large, with a jacuzzi and shower cubicle.
All rooms have small TV sets, mini fridge (not minibar) electronic safe and tea/coffee maker. Strangely, there are no milk sachets, although the hotel provides some fresh milk in a jug upon request. As for styrofoam glasses to drink tea out of – whoever thought of this needs to go back to hotel management school, pronto! It is about the tackiest thing a hotel chain can do.
Insofar as the bathrooms are concerned, sensibly, they have been provided with an emergency cord, although there are no towel hooks which can get, well, inconveniencing. Also, Accor needs to realise that soap dispensers are not cute anymore. There is free wifi across the hotel.
The sole restaurant is on the seventh floor and therefore offers an encompassing harbour view. There is also a bar space here and both together offer 300-covers, which means groups can be comfortably catered to. The restaurant is open for breakfast only; unlike other Ibis properties that serve two types of breakfasts, there is only one breakfast service at the Ibis Styles Palermo: from 7-10am on weekdays and 7-11am on weekends. Apart from this, the hotel serves no fresh food but ready-to-eat frozen options can be made available. One of the high points is that the bar beside the Reception desk offers complimentary cakes and tea/coffee through the day. Meals are not really an issue as there are a couple of cafes in the vicinity and of course, the centre of town is not too far away.
The hotel has an arrangement with a local gym and swimming pool that charge Ibis guests a nominal sum. Further, Ibis guests also get to pay a supplementary charge for a chair and umbrella at Mondello beach.
The Front Office staff are cheerful and helpful for the main. F&B could do with some waking up, particularly in terms of attitude. Housekeeping staff are competent.
In terms of conference facilities, the hotel has a new Congress hall that can accommodate up to 160-pax. Taking into account its room inventory as well, it is the perfect venue for small incentive groups.
There is plenty to see and experience in Palermo. A good place to start is the Teatro Massimo, where parts of ‘The Godfather’ were filmed. In front of the theatre is the main street of Palermo – Via Maqueda – with narrow, tiny cobbled alleys filled with enchanting cafes and pizzerias branching off it. At the end of Maqueda is the Quattro, actually the heart of Palermo: four massive and ornately carved pillars that, without touching each other, form a kind of gateway to the city. A brisk 15-minute walk by the side of the theatre will bring you to Vucciria (chaos) market, a place for fresh fruit, produce and meats. Ballaro market is similar but is much further off. Visit also the 12th century cathedral in town, or the one at Monreale, three kilometres away. Palermo is well known not only for the Moorish influence in architecture but also in food – the martorana (marzipan) is a renowned speciality.
All major airlines fly into Palermo. The airport is half an hour away from the hotel. Those arriving by boat will find it far more easier, as the hotel is on Via (street) Francesco Crispi, just a short five minute walk from the port. A taxi to or from the hotel to the airport costs 40 euros; ask the hotel to organise a shared taxi ride for you, which costs 10 euros per passenger (no more than three passengers per taxi.) Within the city, use the city buses to get to the centre of town or to the main attractions (between 2-3 euros single trip) rather than the sightseeing buses which charge 10 euros for the same.
IBIS STYLES PALERMO
TEL: +39 091 580733
FAX: +39 091 6195387
Punam Mohandas asserts her right to be identified as the author of this work. Any views or opinions expressed in this review is that of the author.