A couple of weeks ago, I had some particularly bad travel planning to deal with. A day trip to Glasgow on the Thursday, followed by a flight to Barcelona at the crack of dawn on the Friday morning.
The prospect of getting about 4 hours sleep in my own bed Thursday night, followed by an uncomfortable cab ride to Heathrow before sunrise on Friday left me looking for hotel solutions in Heathrow itself.
Then it hit me: Yotel!
I’d previously stayed in the Yotel at Gatwick, and it was just the job for what I needed: a comfortable and safe place to sleep with minimal time spent traveling to the plane the following morning.
So I booked myself a standard room in the Heathrow Yotel for a brief period between 10pm and 5am (!!) and boy was I glad when I arrived on my flight from Glasgow. It had been an early start that morning, followed by a long day of work. Finally, the flight into Heathrow was delayed and so I didn’t actually get into the Yotel until about 11pm.
If the premium room at Gatwick was a bit like a “bunker”, sleeping in a standard room at Heathrow was a lot like getting a bunk on board a submarine, or spaceship: the Millennium Falcon, to be precise.
The bed was a reasonably large single, with a widescreen TV tucked in by my feet. Controls to all lighting were positioned next to the bed – a moot point, as you can’t really get lost in a cabin this small. It’s like a large cubicle, with a comfortable recess for you to sleep in, a wet-room for showering, which includes a toilet and sink, and a space between the two which is really standing room only.
I managed to get changed there, but it was reminiscent of getting changed in the toilet on a long-haul flight. Definitely possible, but extreme care was required.
To put the above photo into context, someone sitting on that toilet could easily “high 5” someone lying in the bed. So standard rooms aren’t for sharing! Unless you are particularly close to the person you’re sharing with.
Despite the small space – or perhaps because of it – a lot of thought has obviously gone into the design. The cabin had plenty of power sockets, which was handy as my various i-devices needed a slurp of energy after a demanding day. There was a fold out table built into the wall, so you could work or eat before sleeping. The TV was good quality and a freshly-sealed packet of noise-reducing ear-plugs were waiting for me on the bed.
I’m possibly a minority here, but this room had everything I needed. It’s absolutely perfect for a few hours of sleep before a flight. The bed was comfortable and the shower was hot and powerful the next morning. I slept like a log, after exerting my final burst of willpower by turning off “Family Guy” on the TV.
There was no noise from the corridor outside and I didn’t even use my ear-plugs. I suppose exhaustion helped me. I didn’t feel at all claustrophobic. In fact, I’ve felt more cramped and uncomfortable on some long-haul flights (thank you, Malaysia Airlines).
One important thing to note, however. The Yotel is located in Terminal 4.
The evening before, I’d landed at Terminal 5. Getting to Terminal 4 required a trip on the Heathrow Express transfer service. The next morning, I needed to fly out from Terminal 3. The Heathrow Express wasn’t running yet, so I had to get the tube. And walk… for miles.
It’s definitely easier and quicker than crossing London first thing in the morning. But you really need to build in travel time within the airport to get to your flight. Yotel should really consider having a small hotel at both Terminals 2 & 3 and Terminal 4.
All in all, I’d definitely repeat the experience.