Ten days after flying from Gatwick, and I'm in another hotel – this time at Heathrow. This is a new hotel, and it shows, in generally good ways. Bedroom was spacious, clean and fresh looking. In addition to the double bed, it had a small settee (for making into another bed for family room?). Good 3-piece bathroom with generous walk-in shower (no bath – fine for me!). ‘Squirty’ soap, and shampoo. Limited ‘open plan’ hanging space but, as this was a one-night stopover, this was OK – most clothes don’t come out of the suitcase. Wouldn’t do for an extended stay as a couple (but then, who’d book an extended stay at Heathrow Airport?).
As I was travelling for business, the good desk space was appreciated – but my first ‘grouse’ was being asked to pay for the (advertised as free) WiFi. Why was I asked? ‘You booked through Holiday Extras, so WiFi is not included – I can sell you a voucher for … ’ – so why does the Holiday Extras web page not say so, when the link provided to the Holiday Inn Express T5 website tells us that WiFi is free? And I booked a Gatwick Airport hotel through Holiday Extras and got WiFi included (so maybe a different approach between Holiday Inn Express, and Best Western?).
I had an acceptable chicken curry, with rice and mini-nan bread, from the limited menu in the spacious bar-restaurant area – price, including my 250ml glass of Chilean Merlot was a reasonable £16.10 for this type of food/hotel. They also have an Italian-themed restaurant, which I didn’t try on this occasion. Menus weren’t available in the room, nor were they displayed outside of the restaurants – so you had to go in and sit down first … why?
When buying drinks from the bar, the price-per-glass for whisky works out at more than £100.00 for a bottle of grouse! Time I bought myself a hip-flask, methinks – that way I can have a malt whisky nightcap at less than half the price of an over-the-bar blended.
The buffet breakfast – which appeared to be extensive on first approach (and which was included in the (discounted Holiday Extras) price was … interesting for its selection? Three cereals (coco pops, rice crispies, and corn flakes). Limited selection of fruit (canned peaches and grapefruit; fresh banana) … yoghurt .. toast .. coffee machine with a selection also of teas/infusions. But: the hot buffet was limited to scrambled egg, sausage, and baked beans. Now – whilst I might be happy with scrambled egg on toast sometimes – anyone expecting bacon, hash browns, grilled tomato/mushrooms or fried/poached egg would have been disappointed. As nobody checked us into the breakfast room it’s not clear whether more was of offer if asked for.
National Express ‘Hotel Hoppa’ bus number H5 runs a half-hour service between Terminal 5 and the hotel, between 0400ish-2300ish daily, with a journey time of 10-15 minutes. The adult fare, when bought from the driver, was £4.50 single/£8 return (cash only). You save a bit by paying at the National Express counter inside the terminal, where you can also pay by card. Reception told me that a taxi from the hotel to T5 would cost £17-20; whilst picking-up a taxi from the rank at T5 to the hotel would probably cost more.