x

Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Executive travel: Park Inn at London Heathrow Airport a shabby home after cancelled flight

A very well-used hotel and some of 895 bedrooms and public areas are showing signs of traveller stress to put it politely

One of the many meeting rooms at Park Inn by Radisson at Heathrow, airport. Courtesy Park Inn
One of the many meeting rooms at Park Inn by Radisson at Heathrow, airport. Courtesy Park Inn

Over the Bank Holiday weekend in England I found myself suddenly stranded in London due to the last minute cancellation of an easyJet flight to Budapest from Gatwick airport.

I found a British Airways flight the next day from London Heathrow was the best available option, or at least the least worst; and I thought getting to the next airport and sleeping there also seemed like a good idea.

On arrival at Heathrow I checked in at the BA counter, hoping perhaps they could squeeze me on their flight that night but it was full, aside from a Dh3,670 upgrade to business class.

So I reckoned it might be better to take the opportunity to review one of the airport’s hotels, actually its largest conference hotel.

The BA check-in lady kindly advised me to "go online to avoid the commissions those guys on that desk over there are charging" and so I pulled up an online ticket booking site on my phone using the free WiFi.

A search of hotels nearby put the Park Inn by Radisson as top "deal of the day" with 37 per cent off, and a £75 (Dh365.58) price tag for the night. I got one of the past five bedrooms.

Arriving at the reception desk there was a long queue until I caught the eye of the gentleman in a turban on the Platinum members’ desk.

Perhaps he thought I looked like a member, which I am not. But anyway it made for a quick and friendly check-in, with time even for a sympathetic sigh at the story of my day’s woes with the fully computerised, and virtually inhuman, easyJet.

But this is a very well-used hotel and some of 895 bedrooms and public areas are showing signs of traveller stress to put it politely. A shabby carpet was maybe understandable.

Less forgivable was the split right down the centre of one gray couch in the lobby bar, and the light bulb missing above it. Does the general manager need glasses? I spotted it without mine.

_______________

Read more:

The hotel loyalty programmes that help you save on your travels

Executive travel: The Palace Downtown hotel is a taste of luxurious Arab living

_______________

That said the rooms in this hotel are not bad, particular for such a low price.

All right, there were cracked tiles in the bathroom floor. But is was spacious with a comfortable bed; and the all-important sound proof windows and walls to deflect noise from aircraft and fellow travellers; and true blackout curtains.

You have a full-size desk with two UK, US and European plugs, and tea and coffee making facilities. The internet clocked up 9.9 Mbps on my speed test.

Not everybody is here to wait for a flight the next day. The hotel has two large conference centres that can accommodate 700 guests and no less than 41 meeting rooms.

British Rugby Travel, Occupational Healthcare 2018 and Healthcare 2018 were all in session that day.

I can recommend the newly refurbished gym with five running machines, three bicycles and two steppers, and the large indoor swimming pool with glass roof.

Eating options are limited for such a big business hotel. The RBG Bar & Grill boasts an international menu. But I could not get a seat until 9.30pm so grabbed a soggy chicken masala sandwich and chips in the bar which came far more quickly.

Room menu options included £16.50 for chicken masala, £6.50 more than in the bar; mozzarella pizza for £10; and soup for £6.50. Bizarrely the menu did not list drinks and the mini bar was empty.

But there is also the Costa Express vending machine area which does have soft drinks, coffee and a few snacks.

It’s only 10 minutes to Terminal Three on the £9 return ticket with the Hotel Hoppa bus. No complimentary transfers here. The bus stop was also not easy to find, nor the timetable for the different buses easy to understand.

On the whole, I don’t think I would have chosen this hotel except in a travel emergency.

But it did rise to the occasion at the last minute for a very reasonable price.