stirling attractions and holiday in express stay

Holiday Inn Express Stirling & visiting the Kelpies

As part of our Scottish roadtrip, we stayed for a night at Holiday Inn Express Stirling. As well as a base for the night there were a couple of Stirling attractions we wanted to visit, as well as being near enough to a specific farm shop from Youtube that N wanted to see.

Express by Holiday Inn Stirling

If you’re after somewhere fast and easy as a base for exploring, or just stopping over, then a Holiday Inn Express is a good option even with family. We stayed in the Stirling hotel which is on the edge of an industrial and retail park, next to a sports village. The location is great for getting to Glasgow or Edinburgh, so you’ve got lots of options if you’re in a car, although you do pay £5 for the car park.

stirling attractions and holiday in express stay

While there isn’t a restaurant onsite (not counting a quick breakfast option), there is a Greene King pub next door if you don’t want to eat in the town centre.

The welcome at check in was good. There were 2 people on reception as well, so it was fast despite there being a few people waiting to check in.

Our room was right at the end of a corridor which is always good, looking over the car park. It was quite quiet, no noise sound. And the choice of air con or an open window was nice.

express at holiday inn stirling twin room

The set up was interesting with the desks, shelving and tv all at the end near the window. It worked really well because we have cubby hole areas for our suitcases.  There’s an open hanging/coathanger ‘wardrobe’ which was good for coats.

bedroom storage and desk in holiday inn room

There weren’t any biscuits on the tea tray and we didn’t expect hot chocolate, but for only one night that’s fine.

The one thing we were a bit short of was plug sockets. Lots of old phone lines and switches but only 3 plug sockets once we’d unplugged the kettle.  And none next to the beds.

Our twin room had good wide single beds, and both a soft and firm pillow on each bed which suited us nicely as most hotel rooms don’t provide firmer pillows. The mattresses were quite firm too which was nice. I slept really well there considering we were only there one night.

The bathroom worked well for us. A proper shower which is so much better than a bath (I mean, unless you’ve got a baby or young toddler, who is really going to lie in a bath for ages in a hotel?). It wasn’t the strongest pressure wise, but did the job.

bathroom view in holiday inn express

Cleverly, the toilet was next to the shower and the bathroom door could either close the whole bathroom off, or the toilet as a separate room. We thought that was a brilliant idea.  The only toiletries are the usual Dove cream/washing stuff which is fine as we usually take our own anyway.

holiday inn express stirling bathroom with shower


Breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express was more complete than I’d expected.  I’d understood it was continental, but more like a grab and go, make a bacon butty type of thing. But it was buffet style hot food so N could make up his breakfast as he wanted. 

There were juices, hot drinks, yoghurt, limited cereal choice, fruits, pastries and toast. On the hot buffet N could get everything he wanted, although did seem to be missing eggs. I think they must have just not put them out when we went up because eggs were on the menu as an option.

breakfast drinks at holiday inn express stirling
breakfast buffet holiday inn express stirling
cooked breakfast example at holiday inn express stirling

Breakfast is included in the price of your stay too, so there’s not faffing waiting to be seated or them having to note down your room number. 

It was a good breakfast to set us on our way to head home.

Stirling attractions

While in Stirling we did do a couple of attractions. Stirling is near enough to do a day trip to Edinburgh or Glasgow, or up to other places, so it’s a good midpoint to stay. 

We were only in Stirling for one night, but we did Stirling Castle in the morning, then Blair Drummond Safari Park after that.  Other Stirling attractions include:

  • National Wallace Monument
  • Smith Art Gallery
  • Old Town Jail
  • Battle of Bannockburn Experience 

We didn’t explore the city centre for food while we were there as we just wanted something fast for dinner before heading off to see the Kelpies. So the nearby retail park Tim Hortons was easy to access, although the service was terrible, and it wasn’t the best food.

The Kelpies at the Helix, Falkirk

The Kelpies have been on my to visit list for a long time, and I’d hoped we’d be late enough to see them lit up in the evening. They’re in Falkirk which isn’t a long drive from Stirling.  Unfortunately we were just that bit too early, and with too tired legs to do a walk around the Helix park and look at the various sculptures that are dotted along the path.  The playground looked really good too – with things for older as well as younger children.

The Kelpies sit in the Helix, a community based open space and network of walks and cycle ways. 

The kelpies

The Kelpies are 100ft tall horse head sculptures, weighing 300 tonnes each and are a spectacle you can see from the motorway. They were modelled from clydesdale horses, by artist Andy Scott, representing the history of heavy horse work in the areas from years gone by.   There’s also the mystical folklore story of Kelpies which are transforming beasts that lure people away into the water.

side of kelpie with 12yo stood next to it
selfie looking up at the kelpie sculpture
kelpie 1 sculpture with reflection in the water below it and sun and clouds behind it

Even in the day time, they’re spectacular and so much larger than you expect when up close.  At the visitor centre there are 2 smaller replicas outside, but it’s the main ones that everyone goes to see.

What time are the Kelpies open?

The park is open at any time, 365 days of the year. 

Parking for the Kelpies

There are 2 car parks.  The Kelpies car park is open until 10pm (charge of £2 in the evening when we went) April to October, and 8pm in the other months. The free one nearer the Helix entrance is open all the time. 

Kelpies tours

During the day you can book a tour to go inside the Kelpies. These do need to be booked in advance.

For the price of parking, these are a unique and interesting piece of artwork, and worth spending a bit of time walking around, both the Kelpies and the Helix walks too.

Check out our other Scotland roadtrip posts to see what else we got up to.

Have you ever been to any Stirling attractions or to see the Kelpies?

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