Double value at Doubletree
Doubletree Hilton (Heathrow)
Member Name: koshkha
Doubletree Hilton (Heathrow)
Advantages: Great value for money if you can get a good deal
Disadvantages: Not the nicest area
~Holding out for a bargain~
In the first week of December I went to Lisbon and took a morning flight at 8.15 am. Since I live a good hour and a half from Heathrow even when the M1 and M25 are behaving themselves, I wasn't willing to risk driving down on the morning of the flight especially at this time of year when the weather can spring some nasty surprises. At work there's a 'rule' that all hotel bookings have to be handled by the company travel agent - the execrable bunch of half-wits and con merchants whose name I wouldn't dare print for fear of them accidentally on purpose mixing up my bookings and sending me to Mogadishu via Kabul. Since this 'rule' tends to be applied in a slightly patchy way, I decided to throw caution to the wind and pick my own hotel. Keeping in mind that last time I asked them for an airport hotel at Birmingham I ended up paying over £140 for the few hours I was there, I thought I could do better and of course I did. I booked the rather long-windedly named 'Doubletree by Hilton Heathrow Airport' for the very reasonable price of £54 for the night, room only. I booked on Hotels.com and via Topcashback.co.uk which meant in addition to the bargain price, I got £4.36 cashback and another room night towards my 'stay ten times get a room free' deal with Hotels.com. Yay! What a result - a bargain for the company and some goodies for me.
My husband came over all solicitous when he realised that I'd be driving down quite late. "Make sure you know where the hotel is before you leave the car at the car park" he instructed. Being a good obedient wife, I googled both the hotel and the car park to be sure I knew what I was doing. Sadly even the genius of Google can't compensate for me effectively having the map mentally 'upside down' and it turned out that rather than being between the Purple Parking Business car park and the airport, it was further down the Bath Road, away from the car park and towards the Jolly Waggoner's Roundabout, right in the middle of a slightly down at heel area of take-aways and small 'international' corner stores. To make sure I knew where I had to get to, I took the Junction 3 exit from the M4 and drove past the car park to find the hotel before returning to leave the car so at least I didn't head off in completely the wrong direction.
I'm a country girl and I don't generally go out after dark. I know that sounds a bit pitiful but suddenly realising I'd be walking for 15 minutes or so along a poorly lit dual carriageway, I didn't feel too good about it. I love the Purple Parking Business car park so I will consider next time booking the Premier Inn which is right next door to it. It turned out to be no big issue especially after the elderly couple walking in front of me worked out I didn't look like a mugger as I dragged my wheelie bag behind me and I worked out that if they were muggers I could probably outpace them. We then walked and chatted our way along the road and they couldn't recommend the Premier Inn highly enough.
I don't recall what this hotel was before it became a Doubletree but I do recall the little turreted part of the building. I was slightly confused about how to get in to the place by a sign saying 'Entrance' which pointed in the wrong direction. Once I was inside though it all became very easy. Check in was quick and friendly, I wasn't forced to give my full address, my blood group or my inside leg measurement and they didn't even ask me for a credit card which was refreshingly fuss-free. I was presented with my warm cookie in a brown paper bag, warned not to eat it if I was allergic to nuts (10 out of 10 for health and safety so kudos to Doubletree for training the staff on that) and then given my room key. I asked about the Heathrow Hoppa shuttle service and was given a printed timetable and instructions about where to find the machine that sells the tickets for £4 per adult (kids go free). If you buy on the bus they charge 50p more.
Let's just mention the cookies. If you ask me what the name Doubletree means to me, my first comment will be 'cookies' and my second will be 'thieving, incompetent b*stards. After about 12 years I've just about forgiven the branch of Doubletree in the US who took my white cotton nightdress along with the white cotton sheets and then refused to do anything about it. But hey, who can stay angry for too many decades with a company that gives you a free cookie when you check in?
The hotel lobby is very bright and colourful and everything is in great condition. I suspect it hasn't been open very long as everything looks fresh and clean which is a hard look to maintain in an airport hotel with its high turnover of guests. There's a long check in counter with a snazzy seating area with a bar opposite and a restaurant on the far side of the lobby. I arrived at 10 at night and left at 6.45 am so I wasn't going to have a chance to try the facilities but I liked the look of what I saw. I also learned before going that they have very limited car parking space and offer it for £11 a night although they don't encourage guests to use it for too long.
Before heading up to the room I noticed quite a lot of people hovering around the reception area and the area by the lifts with their iPads and phones. I suspect that there's free wi-fi in the lobby bt you have to pay in the rooms.
I headed up to room 220 which was on the back corner of the hotel, as far as possible from the road which pleased me greatly. Despite having a busy road and a five terminal airport nearby, I heard no noise from inside the hotel or from outside.
The room was surprisingly pleasant and not at all 'budget' looking. I believe Doubletree is positioned slightly cheaper and less stuffy than the standard Hilton hotels. A sort of 'Holiday Inn Express' but for Hilton (if you see what I mean). The room had a pleasant beige and brown carpet which toned well with the beige and brown curtains and offered contrasting lightness compared to the dark wood furniture with dark glass tops. The bed was deliciously big and comfy with a mound of pillows. I slept beautifully. There was a slightly budget-y open-fronted wardrobe with a short hanging rail but it was ample space for the majority of guests who will only stop there overnight. Also in the wardrobe were spare towels a tea and coffee tray and a room safe.
The television was a flat screen but rather a chunky one suggesting it was a few years old. The hotel offers paid-for internet access via the television or via a wired connection but I was there for such a short time that I couldn't see any point in paying for the access. The lighting in the room was excellent with both a ceiling light and a series of lamps. I do hate hotels that want to make their rooms so 'atmospheric' that you can't work in them and struggle to find the bed without bumping into the other furniture in the dark. There was an ironing board and trouser press which I glanced at before dismissing the ludicrous idea that I would start pressing things. There was also a pull out sofa bed which would have been wide enough for probably just one person or two very small people as it was considerably narrower than the normal sofa-beds I see in chains like Novotel. The desk was good enough to spread out a bit and thanks to the coffee tray being in the wardrobe and the telly on the wall, there was plenty of space. I do get irritated by cluttered desks in hotels.
The bathroom was a touch on the small side but beautifully turned out with a full sized bath, a loo and one of those nice vanity units with the stand up bowl on top. Best of all, Doubletree use the same deliciously juicy Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries in lemon, honey and coriander. I rarely pinch hotel toiletries these days but these leapt into my toilet bag. Getting the bath to fill was a bit of a Krypton Factor challenge but once I eventually figured out how it worked, I had a lovely hot bath. There is truly no greater guilt free indulgence than using lots of hot water that someone else paid for.
I slept very well and was up at 6 am to repack my bag and head downstairs to buy my ticket for the Heathrow Hoppa. The guy on reception told me that there would be another bus arriving shortly before my 6.45 am bus and I should take care not to get the wrong one. He helped me with the machine which I thought had eaten my money but had in fact printed the receipt and ticket but not exactly spat them out. I waited for about 15 minutes in the lobby and was the only person on the Hoppa for terminals 1 and 3. The transfer took about 25 minutes because it stopped off at two other hotels before going to the airport. If you are really tight for time - and especially if there are several adults in your party - it might be worth getting a taxi to save time.
I've stayed at almost every one of the Heathrow airport hotels (with the exception of the very 'budget' ones) and the Doubletree struck me as an absolute bargain for the price I paid. It's a lot smaller than many of them and I felt less 'processed' and more cared for by the staff I came into contact with. It doesn't have the facilities that some places boast - gyms, swimming pools or an enormous car park - but the room was in excellent condition, the bed was super-comfortable and I slept really well. For £54 for the night I really couldn't fault it. The location is not the most salubrious but it's not unpleasant or risky to be there, just a bit down at heel. It would definitely go on my list of hotels I'd be happy to return to if the price was right.
Doubletree by Hilton London Heathrow Airport
745 Bath Road, Cranford,
Summary: So much better than getting up in the middle of the night to drive to the airport