I have very rarely stayed at hotels on airport properties. I prefer to stay near where my final destination is. The last time I stayed at a hotel near an airport was in Mumbai, but even that was a few kilometers away. On a trip to London a few weeks ago, I was taking an early morning flight back to the US. (7:55 AM). So instead of staying on in Kensington where I had been for a few days, I decided to move the night before to the Hilton at Heathrow airport. That way I would not have to wake up at 4AM to get to the airport. And what a great decision. The Hilton I was staying in was the Hilton Olympia. It is… let’s just say – not great. It’s really not a true Hilton. Probably another hotel that Hilton bought and slapped their logo on the front. I have stayed in Hampton Inns that are better and they give free breakfast! (There is another HIlton in Kensington, called the HIlton Kensington, which is what one would expect from a Hilton. I was actually attending a conference at that HIlton, but was staying at the Hilton Olympia, as that one was sold out). Now, back to my story. The Hilton Heathrow is not only convenient – you can walk to it via an enclosed walkway – but also beautiful and luxurious.
Heathrow Terminal 4:
The Hotel is attached to Heathrow’s Terminal 4. You can walk to the hotel from the ticketing lobby at the terminal. Its location is important to note as Heathrow’s T4 and T5 are separated from T1, T2 and T3 (and from each other) by quite a distance. You have to take a train to go from these three sets of terminals. (I understand that T1, T2 and T3 was within walking distance of each other). Also, if you are taking the Tube to get to the hotel, like I did, you have to make sure you take the right train. Not every train to Heathrow goes to T4. I just boarded the first train I saw for Heathrow and found out that it did not go to T4. I had to get off at a station before Heathrow and switch trains. No biggie, but it would have been if I had a lot of luggage. Furthermore, there is another Hilton in T5. Make sure you know which one you are going to.
The Hilton Heathrow:
The hotel has an impressive lobby with glass elevators, ‘open air’ restaurants and also the executive lounge, right in the lobby. I took some nice pictures of the lobby from the elevator deck on my floor and from the lobby looking up. They are attached. The rooms were also beautiful – not the typical small rooms one sees in Europe. (The Hilton Olympia had small rooms). A picture of the room is attached. The unique feature of the room was the patterned light that projected on a canvas over the bed (see picture). My room faced the air operations side, but the view of the runways and taxiways was very limited. I did take one picture and could not even identify which airline’s plane it was.
As I had already had dinner, I did not get to check out any of the restaurants. I did however stop by the lounge to get me some refreshments. (YOu have to be a Hilton Hhonors Gold to access the lounge). It was a larger than average lounge with ample sitting space, multiple power points and both work tables and nice sofas. By the time I visited, the food was gone (5 to 9 PM), but there was ample stuff to drink – alcoholic and regular (and some fruits).
Getting to the flight:
Getting to the flight in the morning was a lot of walking. The walk over the walkway back to the terminal was around 5 minutes (their sign says 6 minutes). Then I had to take the train to T2 and after security just walk and walk to the gate. I actually went to the beautiful Star Alliance Lounge there in T2. I will review that in a later post. In all, if I had skipped the lounge, it would have taken me around 25 minutes to get to the gate. As I am a United Gold, I was able to take the Elite lane for security. The regular lanes seemed pretty long. So, budget extra time. I also had no bags to check. The lady at the desk at the Hilton had told me that it would take me 30 minutes to get from the hotel to the check-in counter. I agree one should budget that much time, especially if you are lugging multiple bags thru the airport and train.
All in all – one of the better (non-resort) hotels I have stayed in. It is far off from the city, so for use only if you are flying in really late or have an early flight to catch.
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