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Review: Hilton, Gatwick Airport

Review: Hilton, Gatwick Airport

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Introduction

London Gatwick is not my favourite airport. There’s nothing really wrong with it, particularly now that BA has moved to the South terminal and has also opened new business class and first class lounges, both of which are lovely. It’s more a location thing. Living by the Piccadilly Line, Heathrow is so much easier for me to get to, especially as the tube now runs 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Gatwick, on the other hand, can be a real pain as it requires a tube journey followed by a connection on national rail. As I had to catch an early flight on Sunday morning out of Gatwick, I decided that the easiest option would be to book a Saturday night stay at the Gatwick Hilton.



Booking

As always, I went straight to Hilton.com to book my room to ensure that I would get loyalty benefits and points.

Booking on Hilton.com

The best deal I could find was a double room at the Gatwick Hilton for £86, which I thought was pretty reasonable for a London airport hotel. Due to my Hilton Honors Diamond status, that rate also included breakfast for two people, which made it even better value.

I also had the option of booking the room for 30,000 Hilton points. This would have valued my points at just under 0.3p each. While that’s a pretty standard value these days, I don’t think it’s great when I can use my points in real bucket list places, like the Maldives, where they can be worth five times as much, so I booked the cash rate.

Location

The Gatwick Hilton is located by the airport’s South terminal, just a five minute walk from the terminal building via a covered walkway, which makes it very easy to access.

Hotel location

There is a car park onsite, for those planning to drive, and the hotel offers ‘stay and fly’packages if you wish to leave your car there while you travel.

Arrival and check in

I flew in from Glasgow for this stay and was heading to Italy the next day to ski for a few days so I had quite a bit of baggage with me. However, the walk from the terminal was really straight forward and easy. Having followed signs within the terminal building for ‘Hotels’, I soon found a sign at the terminal entrance that directed me to take the lift down to level 1. From there, it was well signposted, taking me alongside the car park and into a long corridor that took me straight to the door.

Heading to the Hilton

Heading to the Hilton

Heading to the Hilton

Heading to the Hilton

The underground entrance, which is what most passengers will see, is fairly nondescript and makes the hotel seem much smaller than it actually is.

The hotel entrance

As you enter the hotel, you pass through a Costa coffee concession, which would definitely come in handy for early morning starts! I arrived just after a tour group so the lobby was very busy, with a long line of people waiting to check in.

The hotel entrance

Luckily the priority queue for Hilton Honors Gold and Diamond members was empty so I got to the desk quickly.

Hilton Honors priority check in lane

I was checking by Elisa, a very helpful Italian girl who shared some useful spa tips when I told her I was going skiing in Italy. I had already been upgraded to a Double Executive room prior to my arrival, but I figured there was no harm in asking for an additional upgrade to a suite while I was there. Luckily my, eh, good looks and charm won through and, after a quick chat with her manager, Elisa was able to upgrade me.

Check in

Key in hand, I headed to my room. As I was leaving reception, the concierge offered to keep my skis in the left luggage area to save me dragging them to the room, which I appreciated as I knew what was coming next.

Room

I took the lift from just outside the lobby to the 3rd floor, where my room was located. With over 800 rooms, this is the largest hotel at Gatwick Airport. If you haven’t stayed here before, you’ll be shocked at just how big it actually is. It feels like you’re trekking down endless corridors to get to your room, especially if it is located in the ‘new’ wing, which is where they tend to put Honors’ members. The rooms in this area are very modern and are generally considered to be nicest, so it is worth the loooong walk.

Going to my room

Going to my room

Going to my room

Going to my room

I finally arrived at my room, a one bedroom suite. I think it was actually one of the furthest from reception.

My room

The colour is a bit worn, but 7321 is on the bottom left of the map, so, yes, pretty much as far away from reception as it can be! You can see from the map that the one bed suite is actually made up of two, standard sized rooms.

Room plan

Entering the suite takes you straight into the living area, which is spacious and well lit, with a floor to ceiling window on the far wall.

My room

To the right is a small cloakroom, with a toilet and a sink.

My room

My room

There is a small, glass top dining table with four chairs at one end and a corner sofa at the other. A large rug in the centre of the room makes it feel quite homely. Facing the sofa, there is a small, 32″ television, which looks pretty dated.

My room

My room

My room

The unit near the entrance contains a mini bar, as well as tea and coffee making facilities.

My room

The coffee machine is an Iperespresso by Illy and comes supplied with a few capsules. There are also a couple of free bottles of water supplied in here.

My room

Unfortunately the min-bar was empty. I like having the fridge as it comes in useful, but I hate having an empty mini-bar, especially when the hotel charges a ridiculous ‘tray’ charge for all orders.

My room

Conveniently located beside the empty mini-bar, as if it was placed there to tease you, is the drinks menu. While prices are reasonable and the selection is good, that £3.50 can of Coke is going to cost you £8.50 once the £5 tray charge is added. In a room with an empty mini-bar, I find this to be extremely poor practice.

Room service menu

Getting back to the positives, the room has a large, king size bed, which is very comfortable and up to the usual, Hilton standard – firm, with a soft, relaxing topper. Discussing this with a friend who runs another blog, she mentioned that the bed in her room in this hotel on a recent stay wasn’t very comfortable. It’s possible that the suites have better quality beds but that would surprise me. Perhaps it’s just down to individual taste. I’d love to see comments from anyone who’s stayed here…

My room

Like the lounge, the room has a floor to ceiling window so receives plenty of natural light and there is a large, lazy chair, with footrest, beside the window which would be perfect for relaxing in and reading a book.

My room

My room

There was some free water on one of the bedside tables, in addition to the bottles in the bedroom, and a little alarm clock, which, like all Hilton alarm clocks, was almost 10 minutes fast. This is useful for getting up on time until you realise that it’s the same in every Hilton so you start ignoring it! The other bedside table had nothing on it.

My room

My room

In the corner of the room there is a dressing table, with a flip up mirror and a hair dryer. The desk also has tea and coffee making facilities, courtesy of a kettle.

My room

The other corner has a 32″ television in the same, dated style as the one found in the lounge. I didn’t watch television during my stay so can’t comment on the quality or range of channels.

My room

There is plenty of wardrobe space within the room. One of the wardrobes contains an iron, ironing table, trouser press and a safe.

My room

Connected to the bedroom, there is a large, en suite bathroom. The double sinks are great and saved us fighting for space in the morning.

My room

Bathroom products are standard Hilton, from Crabtree and Evelyn and the bathroom contains a separate bath and shower, which is nice, especially as the bath has a jacuzzi function. Danielle tried it during our stay and really liked it.

My room

My room

My room

Additional bathroom products are laid out beside the bath, including dental and shaving kits, which saved me calling reception to have them sent up.

My room

I usually hate the current, Hilton dental kits as the toothbrush is very flimsy and bends badly when you brush your teeth, but this one was a huge improvement. The style is the same but it is much stronger and doesn’t bend so easily. Let’s hope these are rolled out across the brand!

My room

The shower is a really good size, with plenty space for two. The shower unit is a stylish, multi-jet model by Hans Grohe and the water pressure was excellent, which made showering a joy. Two towelled bathrobes were provided in the room.

My room

My room

My room

While I like having double sinks, both had problems with emptying due to the type of plug used. To open the plug you have to put your hand into the wet sink and flip it over. Both, however, were stuck so it was really difficult to empty the sink. A minor point, but quite annoying.

My room

My room

Overall, we were really impressed by this suite, particularly for the price we paid, at just £86. The equivalent rate for the suite we were upgraded to was £227 at the time we booked so this was a real bargain.

The bedroom was a pretty standard size for this part of the hotel, so even without the upgrade to the suite, I’d have been happy with the value for money. The bed was comfortable, meaning we had a great sleep, the the room was bright and airy.

Executive Lounge

Although a fast fading commodity in Hiltons these days, the Gatwick hotel still boasts an executive lounge, which can be used by guests staying in suites and executive rooms and by Hilton Honors Diamond members. Gold members are not given access by default, but should receive access if upgraded to an executive room.

The lounge is on the fourth floor, one floor up from my room, and like most things in this hotel, a fairly long walk away.

Walking to the Executive Lounge

Walking to the Executive Lounge

Walking to the Executive Lounge

Walking to the Executive Lounge

I arrived to find the reception unmanned so was able to walk straight in. My room details were checked later, though, to confirm that I was allowed to access the lounge.

The Executive Lounge

The lounge was very quiet when I arrived, with only one other person using it, so I was able to have a good look around.

The decor is fairly nice, with plenty of colour and lots of comfortable sofas and arm chairs set around coffee tables, giving it a homely feel.

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

There is a small business area at the far end of the lounge, with a couple of PCs and printer.

The Executive Lounge

During the day, snacks and soft drinks are available from the kitchen area, as well as fresh fruit, water, tea and coffee.

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

Each evening between 6.30 and 8.30 hot canapés are provided, along with soup, bread and cold nibbles and the bar is opened, providing beer, wine and spirits, all of which are available to free pour.

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

See Also

Understandably the lounge became far busier at this time, with most seats taken. The downside of this was that the hot food disappeared almost as quickly as it was served. We did manage to grab a couple of plates, though!

The Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge

Given the price of rooms at this hotel I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the executive lounge. For people looking to escape their bedroom, this would be a ideal place to sit and relax for a couple of hours during the day, with the added benefit of drinks and snacks in the evening. While the snacks weren’t really a meal alternative, given the typical Hilton prices in the bar downstairs, it would be easy for a couple to cover the cost of an upgrade to an executive room just by having a few free drinks.

Food and Beverage

In addition to the executive lounge, here are four places to eat and drink within the hotel. As we were only there for one night we didn’t use any of them, other than a quick breakfast visit, so only key information has been provided below. If you have eaten in any of the restaurant, feel free to comment on your experience.

In this section –

Breakfast
Amy’s Bar and Restaurant
Charlie Fry’s Sports’ Bar
The Garden Restaurant
Costa Coffee

Breakfast

Breakfast is served in the Garden restaurant every day from 5.30am until 10.30am during the week and 11am at weekends. The restaurant is located down an escalator, just off the hotel’s main lobby.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

There is a coffee station just outside the restaurant entrance, which offers free coffee and fruit to guests, something I’m seeing a lot more at Hiltons these days. It’s a nice touch for people who don’t want to pay the ridiculous amount hotels charge for a buffet breakfast when all they want is coffee. The buffet breakfast, however, is very good in this hotel.

Breakfast

On entering the restaurant, my room number was taken and I was shown to my table on a quiet, raised section to the side of the restaurant. A cup of coffee was delivered within a minute.

Breakfast

Breakfast

The restaurant is fairly large, which is unsurprising, given the number of rooms. At a guess, I’d say it seats over 100 people.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

All of the food is served from one central area, near to the entrance and it is well laid out, with specific stations for each food type.

Breakfast

The first section I visited contained fruit juice, fresh fruit and cereal, as well as yoghurt, preserves and dried fruit. I initially helped myself to fruit juice, which was freshly squeezed and delicious! I was also pleasantly surprised to find gluten free cereals available.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Moving to the next section, I found porridge, with various toppings available, more cereal, fresh vegetables, cheese, meat and fish.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

There was also a further station at the end, containing bottles of water and more fruit juice.

Breakfast

Hot items from the buffet included vegetarian and meat options, as well as freshly cooked eggs in various styles. Eggs could also be cooked to order on request.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Lastly, there was a bread section, with various types of bread and pastries and a goo selection of preserves.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

Breakfast

As airport hotel breakfasts go, this is up there with the best. The choice was excellent and the quality very good. This definitely gets the Flightguys seal of approval, particularly as a free Hilton Honors Diamond benefit.

Amy’s Bar and Restaurant

Amy’s Bar and Restaurant is based in the lobby of the hotel. The bar is open daily from 10am-1am, with food and drinks available throughout the day. The restaurant opens daily from 6pm-10.45pm and serves “British flavours with a modern twist, using locally sourced ingredients.”

Charlie Fry’s Sports’ Bar

Charlie Fry’s is located on the lower ground floor of the hotel and is a pretty typical hotel bar, serving drinks and burgers, with a good craft beer selection. It is open daily from 5pm-11pm, with key sporting events shown on large screens around the bar.

The Garden Restaurant

The Garden restaurant is the hotel’s main restaurant, open daily for dinner from 5.30pm-10.30pm. Menu options are fairly limited, with a focus on grilled meat, such as chicken and steak, as well as fish and one or two vegetarian options. Main course average around £20 with additional sides available at extra cost.

Costa Coffee

Rather than having a branded coffee machine, which a lot of Hiltons seem to have these days, the Gatwick Hilton has a full service Costa shop on site. As an avid coffee drinker who struggles to function in the morning without one, I think this is a great addition, especially as it’s near the exit to the airport tunnel, so ideal for grabbing a coffee to drink en route to check in. Muffins and snacks, such as paninis, are also available if you want to grab something light to eat.

Services and Amenities

The hotel has a small gym, which is open 24 hours and is free to guests. It’s nothing spectacular, but it does have has free weights, a couple of resistance machines and a few treadmills. The hotel used to have a pool but this was recently removed in favour of adding more conference space.

Flightguys verdict

This place feels less like a hotel and more like a small village. It really is huge! The good thing is that the high room capacity translates into reasonable rates. Airport hotels are not known for being cheap, but I’ve always found this one to be pretty decent, with rooms around the £80-£100 mark. As the only hotel connected directly to Gatwick’s South Terminal, it’s also very convenient. With the added benefit of my Hilton Honors membership, providing me with a free room upgrade, lounge access and complimentary breakfast for two, I thought this was great value and definitely worthy of the Flightguys seal of approval.

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