Over the past few years I’ve got into something of a habit of staying at airport hotels when I’ve got an early flight the following day. They’re far from the cheapest option and generally the food and rooms are basic but still, it beats roping an unwilling mate or relative into driving you to the airport at the arse crack of dawn.
This time it was a little different though as I found myself staying at London’s Gatwick Airport without a flight to catch. After a summer of sofa and spare room hopping I was due to spend five nights in London with my fellow food aficionado Kat, who you may (but probably won’t) remember from the Taiwanese food festival in Tokyo last year. Her flight was due in at around 9am, so I decided to head down a day early and stay at the airport.
Unlike most airport hotels which tend to be off-site, I opted for the YOTELAIR hotel, situated pretty much right in front of the arrivals gate. I was also a little bit sold on the idea of a ‘unique Japanese-style capsule hotel’, as I’m a complete sucker for a novelty. I’d got used to such establishments throughout my time in Japan, but this place obviously catered to those looking for a little more luxury; and by that, I mean a private shower and toilet.
As people are likely to be coming and going throughout the day, the reception is open 24 hours and upon arrival I was made aware of the free hot drinks and water available throughout my stay. A nice touch, although the lack of drinking water available from the taps in the room (according to a sticker on the wall, anyway) may have forced their hand a little.
There’s also a basic but fairly substantial 24/7 menu available, offering drinks, meals and snacks including Pot Noodles which I was pleasantly surprised to discover are still a thing.
I opted for a basic cabin which still me back a cool £95. Apparently rooms are available from about 35 quid, but I highly doubt that. For perhaps the first time in my life the key card worked at the first time of asking and I was in the door.
The first question was where exactly would I put my luggage, as floor space was as limited as you’d expect. I opted for the only option – on the floor between the bathroom and the bed.
As for the bed itself, it was better than I’d expected and seemed ever so slightly bigger than a single. Maybe I was just trying to justify the price tag. The bed was very soft – perhaps a little too soft for someone with a back as bad as mine – but I couldn’t complain about the comfort levels. It was surrounded by a soft coating though, which did give the impression I was in some sort of padded cell.
One thing I certainly couldn’t fault, however, was the positioning of the TV. Perfect for my planned Come Dine With Me and Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares marathons.
The sliding glass doors on the bathroom offered very little privacy, but then again I was in a private cabin so that’s something of a moot point. The rain shower was nice and powerful and the complimentary shower gel was welcome as always. Unfortunately it wasn’t steal-able, but I guess you can’t have it all.
There’s very little to discover in a room so small, but the pull-out table next to the bed did pass me by at first. A nice little addition for those of us who want to sit up and use a laptop, or indeed feel we’re above eating a Pot Noodle in bed – although I’m not sure I qualify for that last claim.
All in all, a small but cosy setup for a good night’s sleep. The curtain on the door blacks out the light from the hallway and the rooms are well soundproofed. Then again, I could probably sleep in a war zone so I’m not sure if that’s high praise or not.
Although a little pricey, you’ll struggle to find a more conveniently-located hotel for Gatwick Airport, especially if you need quick and easy access to the South Terminal.
The room is small without feeling claustrophobic, and with a TV, table and bathroom there’s pretty much everything you need for an overnight stay. My only complaint would be the air-conditioning; you’re pretty much at the mercy of the sadism of the person on the front desk as you can’t control it yourself. The other option is to twist the vent and close it off completely, which is what I did.
Failing that, the blankets are thick enough and you could always put on an extra pair of socks if needs be!