Detailed review by trevorbrock
Belfast, United Kingdom
I am assuming that no-one wants to spend their holiday in Heathrow airport or its near surroundings. However, if you are a plane spotter, then possibly Heathrow is your holiday heaven, and a room in the Holiday Inn could well be your perfect holiday accommodation.
Otherwise, travellers will be using the Holiday Inn London-Heathrow Airport in more mundane ways.
It might be a stopover for a very early flight next morning, or as a sleepover after a very late arrival from some exotic location across the globe.
Indeed, if the uniforms were anything to go by, the majority of guests staying the same night as me, were airline crew - or business reps from a very large firm of fancy dress hirers.!
The hotel does cater for the business community as well, providing very high quality conference facilitites.
But for this review, I'll give you a perspective from someone who needed a really good night's sleep after a shortish journey, but prior to a very early start and a long-haul flight.
Choose Your Hotel Wisely.
It would be easy to assume that if you choose any airport hotel, then you are just a couple of minutes away from your airport lounge next morning. It is the assumption we all make - once. Then we realise that some airport hotels are a long way from the terminal with both a time and financial cost involved.
There are three hotels from the Holiday Inn family at Heathrow, alone. This particular one, is the closest to Terminals 1,2 and 3. In the morning at 4.30am that is significant. It was a ten minute, £9 ride for the two of us - that being cheaper and quicker than the airport shuttle bus system.
I have to confess that the previous evening was not so good, as I hopped into a taxi at Terminal 4 and found myself with a 25 minute journey that cost £25.!
It is worth checking your arrival and departure terminals, and makng sure you pick a really close hotel.
Pay Your Account In Advance.
By being a Holiday Inn regular, it is possible to be guaranteed the cheapest online price for a room and pay for it in advance. While some folk might find that unsuitable, it does mean I can have priority check in and express check out, and be fairly confident that I have a really good deal. When an unflustered, straighforward night's sleep is required, followed by a hectic rush out before dawn, this is my preference.
Know What To Expect.
There are some advantages of booking into a chain hotel like Holiday Inn.
Knowing what to expect in the room is a key one in this type of situation.
Their policy on pillows is a case in point. They have discovered that we all like different numbers of pillows and different levels of softness or firmness. So you have a choice already provided in your room and a pillow menu for other types if you need them. Brilliant.! .....especially when you know that for the next three weeks there will be no such choice in your faraway destination, and that pillows will be limited to one tiny, thin, sweat inducing, sleep-denying nylon covered foam chip excuse for a pillow.!
You know in Holiday Inn that there will be toiletries - even Molton Brown ones if you go Executive room - and they can even provide toothbrush and razor if needed. This may be a waste of time and money if you are on holiday in a hotel in Milton Keynes for a fortnight, but when you are going to be up at 4.00 am and want to keep your own toiletries in your main luggage rather than face the plastic bag routine in airport security - this is a nice option.
Also, you know that the room will be quiet - triple glazing is the rule here, and blackout curtains as well. Let's face it, it is hard enough to get to sleep at 8.00pm anywhere, especially when you are trying to disguise excitement about your trip mingled with anxiety about whether yours will be the next plane disaster story to hit the headlines. If, on top of that, your wonderful cheap airport hotel lets the sunlight flood into your room until 10.00 pm and gives you an earful of the local disco, the neighbourhood boy racers and the sound of distant planes, then you have no chance of a doze at all.
Ensure The Food Chain Is Intact
Since breakfast at 4.00am is not a personal favourite, and trying to sleep on a very full stomach at 8.00pm is not advisable, it is essential that the hotel has a food supply that has variety and quality combined. The Wings restaurant was serving an earlybird buffet from around 5.30 pm which had a variety of European and Indian concoctions on offer. It was not the most exhaustive buffet I ever saw, and I doubt if many people travel from Central London to enjoy a night out dining there. However, it was just what we needed having eaten little all day. It is a pleasant room which does actually look like a restaurant, if you know what I mean. The staff were ultra helpful and pleasant and the experience was 90% perfect.
That 10% of imperfection related to the way in which the bill was dealt with.
Rather than put it on account to the room number - which would have prolonged checkout next day, I decided to pay there and then.
The buffet was only £14.95 each, and a couple of Magners on top should have given a bill of about £35. Instead the waiter billed my card for £40, and I looked suitably surprised when he handed me the machine. He had added on a 'discretionary' service charge without giving me any option. I was peeved enough to make a show of pocketing the tip I had in my hand for him - it was the only blot on an otherwise perfect stay.
Use The Staff's Wisdom.
I often wonder why hotels bother having a concierge! - who ever uses them?
There were two issues I wanted to clarify before going to sleep that night - or early evening. Firstly I needed to sort out travel to the terminal for the next morning.
I decided to ask the concierge who I should consult for help ! It was him, of course. He did not really try and influence me - just gave the facts - the shuttle bus would leave at such and such a time and take so many minutes,and cost £5 per head.
A private taxi would cost about £9 , could be ordered to arrive at whatever time we chose, and would take less minutes to deliver us straight to the correct door.! He was correct, and we left after some of our fellow guests got on the bus, but spotted them arriving some time after us in the terminal.
The second issue was even more delicate. Our ticket provider had told us that we needed to be at checkin by 4.00am for a 7.00 am Air France flight. What did the concierge think? He did his checks, and came back to advise that checkin at 4.45 would be plenty early enough, so arranged the taxi for 4.30, called the room when it arrived, and made sure we sailed through hotel checkout with nothing more than a wave of the document left under our door durng the night. We arrived before 4.45 and the first Air France staff arrived at 5.00 am. Well done, Mr Concierge, your local knowledge was so useful.
Research The Cost Options
I do not blame hotels for charging businees rates for big business accounts.
So long as they do make some provision for other poor mortals who are prepared to do a bit of online homework.
A room here with dinner and breakfast can be had during the week on special offer of £160. Without dinner, you could be looking at something between £90 and £145.
But as a fully-paid-up member of Pigsback.com, I was able to get my room for £51.60 with £10 worth of piggybank points as an extra discount.
It was great value, especially as this stay was on Easter Monday.
I will not be going there for a holiday - but for an airport stopover, it was just the job.
Holiday Inn London Heathrow Ariel