Sitting beside my bedroom window at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel, I find myself fascinated by the soundproofing. Just how many layers of glass must there be to reduce the noise of early evening traffic on the Bath Road to a low rumble?
I don’t particularly look forward to staying at airport hotels. Nature of the beast says that they are invariably large with standard issue decor and amenities. But I do love the idea that I am within sight of the runway, ready to check in at some ungodly hour without worrying about traffic from home or public transport. Suddenly they become part of my holiday.
So I arrive at the Renaissance in good spirits, booked ahead through Holiday Extras along with parking in the hotel’s secure car park. This is overnight accommodation on an industrial scale, with a vast foyer and lounge space befitting a hotel with 711 bedrooms. And considering all those bedrooms probably have new occupants every night, I’m impressed to find the Reception staff both friendly and efficient with no hint of having uttered the same spiel dozens of times this evening already.
We’re allocated one of the newly refurbished rooms which is unremarkable in decor but has everything I could possibly need. The welcome tray has no biscuits, but the bath has a large rainfall shower over and the towels are fluffy and white. Standard rates are from around £119 for a double room but various deals and room packages are always available including holiday parking.
If you don’t want to leave your room, you can enjoy breakfast in your room between 6am and 11am, followed by All-Day Dining (well, almost) from 11am to 11pm. We head instead to the Market Garden restaurant on the ground floor, passing through Bar Eleven which also serves food from 10am to midnight. Tonight, football fans are already gathered round the TV screen in anticipation of the big game.
Open from 6pm till 11pm, the spacious Market Garden restaurant looks across the hotel carpark to the main runaway, so get there early if you like the spectacle of planes taking off every couple of minutes and want a window seat. The 3-course buffet is tempting at £21.50 but in the end we both go for the fillet steak which arrives perfectly cooked and attractively served on a rather curious combination of a slate-on-a-board. Chips are excellent and the plate is completed with roast vine tomatoes on a giant mushroom.
We sleep well in super-comfortable beds but still wake before our 5.15 alarm call which arrives right on cue. Our pre-booked taxi – ordered the night before by the taxi desk in the lobby – is also on time and costs £15 to Terminal Five. An airport hopper bus also passes the hotel but do check that timings not suit your flight. At 6am we are checking in for Moscow, relaxed and ready for our Russian adventure with Riviera Travel. An excellent start to a trip into the unknown.
For airport hotels, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Holiday Extras.