InterContinental Perth Burswood
- breakfast buffet
- park-like grounds on one side
- awful soundproofing
- it's a construction site
- Rockpool restaurant downstairs
The Perth InterContinental is located in the Burswood resort complex, across the Swan River from the city itself. It's a few minutes closer to the airport than most of the business class hotels in town, which tend to be on the Terrace in the CBD overlooking the river.
The Burswood complex has a 24-hour casino, restaurants -- including one of Neil Perry's Rockpool joints --, bars, a club, a convention centre, a theatre, and the Burswood Dome sports/concert/event arena. The Holiday Inn is also in the same resort area.
It's worth noting that The Perth InterContinental hotel is currently in the middle of a major renovation, which cruelled our stay in numerous ways.
Location & Impressions
It's a fifteen-minute drive from the airport, so a good location option for a quick overnight stay if you are connecting to other Western Australia destinations through Perth.
To get into town, you could walk for a kilometre or two, head 250m to the Burswood train station, jump in a taxi or take the little tourist road train. A taxi is probably the best option of all.
Inside, parts of the hotel's enormous glass atrium lobby (which is in a style that can best be described as "1980s Las Vegas meets Art Deco sci-fi Titanic") are walled and draped off, and during the daytime construction noise is everywhere.
I arrived just after lunchtime and the hotel was busy, but didn't seem packed.
The King room I stayed in was one of the new rooms, which will be the basic offering when the hotel's revamp is complete.
The room was spacious, although most of the extra space was thanks to the far (window) corner being angled to a point. There was a higher than normal amount of furniture in the room: a desk with two chairs, a two-seater sofa, an armchair, a round ottoman, and a sidetable.
The large flatscreen TV was appreciated because the room looked out onto a dreary car park. Frustratingly for people who like to leave the curtains open and wake up with the light, a construction floodlight shone right through the window all night.
A welcome iPod/iPhone dock next to the bed kept my iPhone charged and woke me up to music, which was a pleasant home-like addition.
Storage space in the room was short: an alcove for a suitcase (with no door or luggage rack) and a very shallow closet that my suitcase wouldn't fit into.
I was allocated a room for people with mobility difficulties, so the bathroom was a wet room with grab bars and an unusual shower setup. I did take a look into another room, where the bath was the same but the shower was in a smaller, separate cubicle.
The bathroom was excellent, with one of the best full soaking tubs I've experienced, toiletries pleasant to the nose and skin, a rainfall shower head with shower wand and lots of mirrors.
Noise in this hotel, even in the refurbished rooms, is a major problem. The doors were astoundingly thin. Normal voice conversations could easily be heard from outside the door, which -- given that I was in a corridor a couple of doors down from the lifts -- was deeply unsatisfactory, especially for a refurbished room. And the walls aren't thick either: I could hear people in the next room talking.
Worse still, the ice maker outside the room rattled noisily all night. Now, I can sleep through everything -- including one notable earthquake example -- but the noise was appalling for a hotel like an InterContinental.
And I was apparently in one of the better rooms for noise. Guests in rooms that face out onto the nine-story atrium, which has nightly live music, reported that the music was easily audible in the room.
The hotel is also in the middle of a complete refurbishment, which means that construction is starting at half past seven in the morning.
The desk is remarkably unsuitable for working. My room had two chairs facing the desk: an office-type swivel and one halfway between dinner chair and armchair. Neither raised my arms to an adequate height to be able to type comfortablyon a laptop on the desk.
Even more frustratingly, with only wired Internet in the room -- and slow wired Internet at that, with speeds never rising higher than 1.5 Mbps up and down the four times I ran a speed test, and at peak morning and evening times below 0.5 Mbps -- the option of working with a laptop on the sofa wasn't there.
Internet isn't included in the room rate either, and is a pricey $29 a night. Bring your own with a portable 3G modem that has wifi instead.
And the ethernet cable wasn't even connected to the wall when I arrived -- not a problem for me, but less tech-savvy guests in the group had real problems with figuring everything out and making the Internet work in their rooms.
On the plus side, there were two easily-reached power points next to the desk, although they were close together and couldn't have taken a larger AC adapter-type plug plus something else.
For a business-class room refurbished this year, the work options were very disappointing.
The Burswood complex has several different options for dinner. I tried three: Scirocco at the Holiday Inn a three-minute walk away, 88 Noodle Bar inside the Burswood casino, and breakfast at Atrium inside the InterContinental.
Scirocco was modern Italian and pretty good. I shared paella with a business contact over dinner and it was authentic, delicious, and in a generous portion. The wine list was average, but with a couple of good wines -- head for the local stuff from Margaret River.
88 Noodle Bar, inside the main casino at Burswood, had well-cooked Chinese and east/southeast Asian food, mainly in the "dish plus noodles or rice" category. Since it's inside the casino, it's a good pick for an informal dinner. However, the casino security staff won't allow any bags inside, so for a business meeting it's not a good choice.
Atrium restaurant had a fabulous breakfast, with more options than even I could try on a two-day stay. From dim sum to waffles to omelettes to smoothies to noodles to sausages to cheesecake to congee to more things that I've forgotten, it's enormous and everything's delicious. (Try the dim sum and the cheesecake, though perhaps not at the same time.)
For a $37 breakfast if it's not included in your room rate, though, only filter coffee is included. An espresso-based coffee like a flat white or a lattè will cost you extra, which is frankly ridiculous.
Also in the complex is the Perth branch of Neil Perry's Rockpool -- although it's the Rockpool Bar & Grill concept rather than the original Sydneyside Rockpool restaurant. It's one of the best (though admittedly somewhat unimaginative) options in Perth if you're new to town and trying to impress a business contact.
With an armchair and a two-seater sofa, plus an ottoman and the two desk chairs, there's more than enough space to relax with a book.
Unfortunately, the lights in the room were very dim, with only a weak energy-saving bulb in the corner with the sofas and chair. So I ended up lounging on the bed to read at night, which seemed a waste.
The best part of the relaxation options was the bathroom, with a deep soaking tub and a window opening through to the bedroom. With some soft music on the iPhone dock next to the bed, it was the perfect way to relax after a long day.
Business travellers should take note of some serious issues with the refurbished rooms and the refurbishment process. I wouldn't recommend staying here until the revamp is done, and even then not unless the hotel adds wifi, fixes the Internet and installs some noise insulation.
Our reporter was a guest of the InterContintental Perth Burswood