If you’re serious about spotting, or just into everything aviation, you might want to plan a visit to the new viewing deck located at the Novotel hotel on Bath Road in west London.
Get a ringside seat at London Heathrow
The hotel - and its new viewing deck - are located directly opposite the northern runway (27R/ 9L) at Heathrow, meaning avgeeks can enjoy some great views of the comings and goings at Britain’s busiest airport.
The deck, on level four of the hotel, opened last month and can be accessed with a day pass, monthly membership, or if you’re staying at the hotel (as I was).
I visited last week and, while I wouldn’t say I’m a plane spotter, I did enjoy spending time watching the airport operations from such a close position. There’s seating for approximately 20 people - though there was never more than five or six people when I dropped in.
While traffic at Heathrow is much less than it was pre-coronavirus, there was still plenty to see. One of the highlights was seeing the special BB-8 ‘Star Wars’ livery of an ANA Boeing 777-300, which landed at Heathrow in the afternoon of day one of my visit.
My favourite moment was watching the massive Emirates A380 coming in to land from Dubai.
Speaking of big jets, there was also an appearance from an AirBridgeCargo Boeing 747.
As you would expect, there were more movements of British Airways aircraft than I could count, as well as some less well-known airlines, such as Azerbaijan Airlines and Air Serbia.
Both Air India and Vistara’s 787-Dreamliners could be seen during my visit.
Interested in planning your own spotting stay?
I initially phoned the hotel to ask some questions about the viewing deck, but unfortunately I couldn’t get them to pick up the phone.
I then went online and saw that special packages were available if I made my reservation via Mohammed Zulqarnain Butt - an aviation industry insider who was instrumental in getting the viewing deck project at the Novotel off the ground.
By booking via Mohammed, you’ll get the following for just £70 (£80 for parties of two and £100 for a family of four):
- Overnight accommodation for one night in a standard room (mine was very nice, and overlooked the airport)
- Access to the viewing deck on both days
- Free parking
- Free breakfast
- A 30% discount at the hotel restaurant
I thought this was a great deal, as the cheapest I could find the hotel on sale for online was around £60 - not including breakfast, parking or the restaurant discount.
Mohammed made my reservation for me and sent me a confirmation number once my booking was confirmed by the hotel management.
I had a really good stay at the hotel - which I think offers great value for money - and I wouldn’t hesitate to book with Mohammed again, as he was super helpful and dropped by to chat to me on the first evening.
Prefer to put your own trip together? Just make sure you book the correct Novotel, as there are two at Heathrow. The one you want is located on 234 Bath Road, and is called Novotel Heathrow Terminals 1,2&3.
The viewing deck is open from 4am until 10pm. Officially, food and drink is not to be consumed on the deck, though this wasn't enforced and a number of people (myself included!) would buy drinks from the downstairs bar to have in the deck.
Note that all photography is taken through glass.
Any avgeeks inspired to visit Heathrow and enjoy the spotting opportunities at the Novotel viewing deck?