If you like planes…
Opening the door to a hotel room is always a distinctly memorable experience. Your face quickly tells the story, with either a major frown or a moderately pleased grin. When we opened the door to our guest room at the Renaissance London Heathrow, the instant feeling was one of impressive surprise. The color – tasteful, the fixtures – modern, the views – incredible. This relatively new London option may technically be an airport hotel, but it’s something far more sophisticated.
Reaching the Renaissance Heathrow hotel is very easy from Heathrow terminals. Ignore the option to pay for the Hopper bus, and jump on one of the numerous free public buses which will drop you directly outside the property. From the exterior, it’s hard to think of an architecturally inspired Heathrow hotel and you sadly won’t find one here either. The lobby is bustling with busy travelers, but nice common areas quickly diffuse the pace with ease. Proceeding directly through the lobby you’ll quickly find the check in desks, which offer both an elite check in line for Marriott members and a standard, well staffed standard check in. After a very painless, pleasant check in experience I found my way to the otherwise nondescript elevators which took me to my runway view third floor room.
If at all financially reasonable, any plane geek would be totally remiss for not booking a runway view hotel room. The views are simply spectacular. You’re about as close to a Heathrow runway as physically possible, and as the winds shift, even a single viewing location offers both take offs and landings. The club lounge offers even better views, but we’ll get to that later.
The room was eye opening in a very pleasant way. It wasn’t particularly large or small, but it was very elegant, modern and well kept. It had the feeling of a five star hotel, that’d been folded into a more compact package. If you’re instantly wondering about runway noise – there is some, but it’s not the sort of thing you can’t sleep through. Creamy, tan tones dominate the room and at least this particular room offered nicely diffused natural light through the curtains. TV was modern, standard internet was acceptably fast and pillows and linens were of a very high quality. It really was like a regular Renaissance, once you got into the room.
Perhaps frustrating to some – no USB ports were on offer in the Renaissance Heathrow Hotel rooms, despite an obviously nice recent makeover. USB makes charging much easier than international adaptors, so if you are spending the night, be sure to bring your own UK adaptor. The front desk undoubtedly has some available, but you wouldn’t want to chance a good charge. Fortunately, there are power ports available on both side of the bed, within easy access.
The hotels main restaurant is located on the ground floor with yet even more runway views. Breakfast was bountiful with cooking stations, freshly fried eggs, various ethnic options, yoghurt and coffee to order. It’s not going to win a Michelin star, but it was more than enough to get a balanced start to the day and as a buffet – you could easily fill up. The same could be said for lunch. I was very appreciative of the health conscious options to balance out the temptingly indulgent offerings. You’d be a fool to make this your only London dining experience, but it’s a perfectly good place for a pre or post flight meal.
The Club Lounge, reserved for Marriott Gold and Platinum members, or guests staying in Club access rooms or suites was a real treat. A complimentary cocktail happy hour(s) was served in the early evening and although drinks and wines are very basic – they’re free flowing. The food presentations were above average for an “airport hotel”, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Chicken Yakitori with a cool glass of easy drinking wine. The highlight was undoubtedly the over the top effort and service from lounge attendant Anka, who commandeered the crowded room.
The gym is rather basic but easily accessible and fine for a good sweat. On a beautiful day, it would be tough to pass up a jog outside along the runway road, but for a quick cardio work out or weight session it absolutely gets the job done. Hotel gyms are adapting, and there’s certainly room for this one to get even better.
This is beyond the traditional “airport hotel”. The Renaissance Heathrow is clearly a leader in the newer generation of sophisticated airport sleeps, making the flying experience just a little bit easier for all. And of course, if you’re a plane nerd – an evening with complimentary wine, snacks and unobstructed runway views is the ultimate definition of a night out on the town. It’s a great place to spend a night, without a doubt – and the rates seem very reasonable. A little bit more refinement and it could easily become one of the better airport hotels in the world.
Have you stayed at the Renaissance Heathrow Hotel recently?
Featured image courtesy of Marriott Hotels Intl.