A new viewing deck has opened at the Novotel London Heathrow Airport T1,2&3, allowing AvGeeks and plane spotters to indulge their hobby and watch the traffic at Britain’s busiest airport at close range.
Rather than making a flying visit (pardon the pun), I decided to stay the night and check out what else is on offer at the hotel.
About the hotel
Novotel is a mid-range hotel brand that’s part of the French Accor group.
Note that there are actually two Novotels in the Heathrow area. The second one is located just off junction four of the M4 motorway - so be sure where you want to stay, and take care when booking.
Both properties are well situated for easy access to the airport. The Novotel London Heathrow Airport T1,2&3 on Bath Road directly overlooks runway 9L/ 27R, hence the great views from the deck.
Less than a mile from the terminals, the Bath Road Novotel has 166 bedrooms, a gym, bar and an onsite restaurant, Nest.
Booking the Novotel
I made my reservation via Mohammed Butt, who works in the aviation industry and has teamed up with the hotel to offer viewing deck packages.
I contacted Mohammed via Twitter and he made the reservation on my behalf. I paid for the stay when I arrived at the hotel, so everything worked perfectly. For £70 (USD 90), I received the following:
- Overnight accommodation for one night in a standard room
- Access to the viewing deck on both days
- Free parking
- Free breakfast
- A 30% discount at the hotel restaurant
The cheapest online rate for the hotel I could find was just under £60 (USD 76), so I was happy with Mohammed’s deal, considering parking, breakfast and a discount at the restaurant were all thrown in.
The same package costs £80 (USD 102) for two people, or £100 (USD 128) for a family of four (two adults and two children).
Novotel London Heathrow Airport T1,2&3 - Review
Because the primary purpose of my stay was to check out the viewing deck, I spent very little time in the room. For that reason, I will keep this review fairly short.
My expectations were low (not for any particular reason, I just don’t get excited about a stay at a Novotel) but I was impressed when I stepped into the hotel, which felt modern and clean.
As you would expect, the check in agent was wearing a mask and was working behind a screen.
While I waited, I had a look around. There was plenty of seating in the lobby, which had a business corner plus a family area where there are iPads, electronic games, books and board games.
My room wasn’t ready when I arrived at 12.30pm (check in is normally from 2pm) so I decided to head straight up to the viewing deck, where there were three or four spotters set up with their cameras and filming equipment.
Around 15 minutes later, the same guy from reception came up to the deck to hand over my key - which I appreciated.
The room was great. I guess I had a standard room (the entry-level room) which are around 23 sqm. Superior and executive rooms (both larger at 28 sqm and 35 sqm) are also available, though I wasn't advised if I did receive an upgrade.
I requested (and received) a room with a view of the airport. I was told these rooms are only available on level two (two floors below the deck), but I’m not sure if that’s because the hotel was busy.
Anyway, there was (just about) a view of the runway.
The room was big enough for me (I guess it was around 23 sqm) and had a double bed, which was very comfortable.
Everything felt modern and clean and there were loads of plug sockets dotted around the room, which is always a plus.
The bathroom had a decent rain head shower, though the towels were a little thin.
The desk came in very useful and the wifi was free, as well as fast.
Other facilities in the room included a kettle, safe and a fridge (empty).
The LCD TV was large (55 inches) and the picture quality was very clear.
There was also space to store a small suitcase or weekend bag.
I spent the day flitting between the room and the viewing deck, which is open between 4am and 10pm and is free for hotel guests.
In the evening, I had a couple of drinks from the bar and noticed the hotel was advertising a 2-4-1 deal on cocktails between 4pm and 7pm (though I didn’t try any - something to look forward to next time!).
I also had dinner at Nest so that I could take advantage of the 30% discount included in my package. The restaurant is open between 6pm and 10pm for dinner, and from 11am til 3pm for lunch seven days a week.
I ordered the lamb rogan josh, which looked much better than the burger I saw heading to another table. I also requested a small portion of the bhindi and dal, as I wanted to taste the hotel’s vegetable dishes.
The Indian food was very good - though pretty spicy, so be warned! The flavour was very good, and I'm sure they have a chef from the Subcontinent working his (or her) magic behind the scenes.
Despite plenty of staff milling around, there was no table service, which means you need to go up to the bar to order (and pay) each time you want something to eat or drink.
This wasn’t a problem as there weren’t many customers around, but I do think the hotel is missing a trick. If there was table service, I’m sure a waiter could have talked me into dessert or more drinks, but I was feeling full after the main course so I decided to head to bed.
Dinner came to £24 (USD 30) including a gin and tonic (the rice, bread and vegetables were chargeable). Other dinner options included London Pride-battered fish and chips (£16.95/ USD 21.50) and an 8oz ribeye steak served with fries and mixed salad (£25.95/ £33).
Next morning, I was back down to Nest for my complimentary breakfast. There was a mini buffet set up across a couple of tables, with cartons of juice and milk, pre-packed croissant and pastries, fruit plus coffee and hot water for tea.
After a minute or so of hanging around, I caught the eye of one of the servers and he asked whether I’d like a full English breakfast (of course!).
The quality of the breakfast was okay - perfectly fine for a free meal, but I might have been disappointed if I’d paid for it. Both the egg and the sausage were a little rubbery.
By far the worst part of breakfast was the plastic cutlery given to guests. As well as being bad for the environment, plastic cutlery is just horrible to use.
The hotel’s other facilities
Besides the deck, the bar and the restaurant, there is a good-sized gym, which was light and airy and fitted out with a good range of modern equipment (not that I used any!).
Another thing to mention is that the lifts were great. One would always arrive very quickly once you’d pressed the button, and there was no need to swipe a key card (which can get annoying).
Hand sanitiser bottles were placed throughout the hotel, and outside every lift entrance, which was reassuring.
The hotel also has five meeting and banquet rooms, though I didn't get to check them out.
This isn’t a luxury hotel, but I was really impressed by the facilities on offer on the Bath Road Novotel at Heathrow, and I left feeling like I received excellent value for money.
The Novotel offers a great option for a short stay close to Heathrow - or for those looking for the ultimate AvGeek experience.
I would like to see table service in the restaurant, and the plastic cutlery is terrible. Other than that, I am a happy customer.
Would you stay at the Novotel London Heathrow Airport T1,2&3?