Budget airlines have provided us Baby Boomers with travel horizons beyond our wildest dreams. But the downside of low-cost air travel is all too often the pre-dawn departures and late-night returns which can really put a dampener on the most exciting of holiday plans.
So I long ago decided to minimise the stress of travelling at unsociable hours by booking an overnight hotel close to the airport. In fact the closer the better to avoid any anxious wait for shuttle buses or taxis. So for my recent 0435 check-in at London Stansted, I made a welcome return to the Radisson Blu, less than 5 minutes from the terminal by covered walkway. And by booking a hotel and parking package through Silver Travel Advisor partner Holiday Extras, the comfort and convenience came in at a very attractive price.
The Radisson Blu Stansted is well signposted from the approach roads to the airport. Overnight guests simply drive through the barrier into the secure car park and up to the hotel entrance to check in. Arriving late afternoon, I found five desks open to deal with the steady flow of arrivals and the whole process was dealt with efficiently and with a smile. Once you’ve registered, there’s time to leave your bags in your room before moving your vehicle clear of the entrance. It will be moved later to a parking area two miles away and brought back to await your return.
My spacious Standard room was bright and upbeat with attractive light wood furniture, a bath with shower over, magnifying mirror, air conditioning, tea and coffee tray, and efficient WiFi. I particularly loved the elegantly curved recliner – so comfortable for watching TV in your pyjamas! Accessible rooms are also available and include wider doorways, wheelchair-friendly wet rooms, and lowered wardrobe railings and plug sockets.
The 500 bedrooms and suites at the Radisson Blu Stansted are arranged around an inner atrium with a large open-plan lounge and Wine Tower Bar. When it’s time to eat, choose from British Brasserie style fare at Collage, or the quieter atmosphere of Station 169 for steaks and fish. And if you just want to chill out in peace before an early call or perhaps after a late return, there’s a 24-hour room service menu too.
It was lights out early for me and whilst I’d have loved another three hours beneath the duvet, I did enjoy six hours of good quality sleep before the alarm call came at 0415. The hotel is extremely well soundproofed and I wasn’t aware of any noise from aircraft or other guests.
Fifteen minutes after getting up, I was inside the terminal. The hotel booking was pre-paid so I didn’t even need to check out. And if you are lucky enough to be leaving after 0600 – what luxury! – you can grab coffee and breakfast snacks to take with you.
At which point, one word of praise for Ryanair. When I travelled in mid-October they were still trialling a new check-in option for passengers with early morning departures. An email a couple of days before my trip advised me that I could check my hold baggage in between 1900 and 2200 the previous evening – a real bonus when every early morning minute is precious, so I hope it becomes standard practice.
On my return four days later, I simply presented myself at a dedicated car collection desk in the hotel foyer and was given my car keys with a diagram to show where the vehicle was parked. Minimal fuss, minimal time, maximum convenience. Highly recommended!
Radisson Blu Hotel London Stansted Airport
Stansted CM24 1PP
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Holiday Extras.