Pardon any puns about New Kid on the Block, but Bloc Hotels is a new player on the UK hotels market, aimed at people who don’t want to spend a lot of time in their hotel room but are looking for a stylish stay at a great rate. First hotel was in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham; the second, opened in March this year, at London Gatwick airport.
With an early morning flight to catch, I booked into the Bloc Hotel Gatwick rather than catch a pre-dawn train from home, and I certainly couldn’t have got any closer to the check-in desks without sleeping on the luggage belts. The 245 bedrooms are literally above Departures, spread over four floors and accessed from a discreet reception desk.
The concept is simple – comfort, quiet and convenience at an affordable price. Bloc describes the bedrooms as being like cabins on a luxury yacht, to which I would add ‘without the motion’. What you get is a supremely comfortable bed with crisp white linen, efficient air con, amazing soundproofing, free toiletries and super-fast WiFi. What you don’t get is a bar, restaurant or any kind of lounge amenities, but then you don’t need them – you can find all those in the terminal.
If you’re not used to smart technology, the idea of controlling the room facilities – lights, blinds, temperature, even checkout – from a touch-screen tablet may be a bit daunting, but you don’t need a techno-efficient child to operate this one. We seniors can do it too! Unfortunately I then tried in vain to turn the TV on by touching the screen – until I spotted the control box! And although I stuck with familiar channels, there are all kinds of smart functions available for the techno-TV-savvy.
Amazingly all this convenience and technology isn’t expensive. If all you want to do is get your head down, book a Sleep room without a window – prices from £59 per night. Bit of a plane spotter? Then choose Vista with a window or Aspire with two. There are fly-drive packages too, family rooms, and deals that include breakfast or supper at an airport food outlet. Full details from the website.
I spent a blissful night in a supremely comfortable bed between Egyptian cotton sheets and was amazed at how quiet it was, despite the neat rows of Monarch and easyJet planes parked beneath my window.
So what’s not to like? My only niggle would be the wet room which is just what it says on the tin. Wet. The much-vaunted ‘drench’ shower is positioned right in front of the toilet which offers the potential to make the whole room like a rain forest. Most of the water drains quickly away through a barely perceptible crack in the floor, but dampness pervades, so don’t inadvertently walk in wearing socks! Best to shower just before you leave, not when you arrive.
But I’m being picky. I was impressed with the big soft towels, complimentary body wash, powerful hairdryer and big mirrors. And most importantly, I joined my companions for our pre-breakfast flight fresh as a daisy.
With a late night return flight three days later, I had already booked a second night at Bloc, much to my delight when I found my flight was delayed by three hours. So at 2 in the morning, I was able to walk out of Arrivals and straight into Bloc reception, tired but feeling hugely smug. If you’re flying from Gatwick, Bloc’s contact details should be amongst your travel essentials.
Bloc Hotel Gatwick