Acorn Lodge Crawley.
I have stayed at the Acorn Lodge now on 4 occassions. It offers Bed and Breakfast with the option of parking your Car for the duration of your Holiday all for just £99.00, included in this price 15 days Parking. Rooms with Tea and Coffee making facilites. TV, DVD Player. Rooms are exceptionally clean. Provided are Toiletries and Towels in the Bathroom which invariably have Showers. The Breakfast, Full English is served from 6 or Continental Breakfast earlier if required. Transfers available 24 hours a day to either of Gatwick Airports Terminal. They also own the Cambridge Hotel which is just down the Road. If you arrive in the evening and are hungry, Reception will arrange free of charge Transfers to the Cambridge Hotel, which has an excellent Restaurant and the prices are very reasonable. After you have finished your meal you can sit in the Lounge area or book the return Transfer to the Acorn Lodge.
The staff are very friendly. Only down side is the fact that the Bar in the Acorn Lodge shuts at 1030 without notice. If you do have a later flight I always find it nice to sit and relax with a drink in nice surroundings. You cant do that at the Acorn Lodge. But you can at the Cambridge Hotel.
Arora International Hotel, Crawley.
Parking at airports is notoriously expensive. The toll for a short-stay at one of Heathrows multi-storey car parks ticks over as quickly as the meter in a London cab. When flying from Stansted, its not uncommon to find that the bill for the parking eventually exceeds the cost of the flight itself. Then theres Gatwick, which is generally no better. Happily, a number of hotels in the vicinity of Londons second largest airport have capitalised on this parking problem, offering accommodation with one or two weeks parking thrown in, at a very reasonable additional cost. Which brings us to the Arora International
My husband and I stayed at this hotel in September of this year, prior to travelling from Gatwick on an early morning flight. We booked the accommodation, which included 14 days parking, through First 4 Extras. It cost £120.00 in total for the parking and one nights accommodation in a double room, breakfast not included. This really represents pretty good value for money, but as said, there are a large number of hotels in and around Crawley/Gatwick offering similar deals, and judging from our experience, the Arora International is probably not amongst the best of them.
The Arora is located fairly close to Crawleys town centre and was easy enough to find. It is a large, modern-looking building, with a square glass atrium at its entrance. The hotels main reception area is light and open, and includes a café/ bar with coffee tables & leather armchairs, a row of 4 or 5 computer terminals with internet access, and a tall, modern water feature, dramatically obscuring the elevators at one end. There is also a small shop, similar to the sort you might expect to find in a railway station, selling newspapers, drinks, chocolate bars etc.
The hotels website features an attractive photograph of this lounge area. Alas, it bears little resemblance to what we actually saw. The lounge was untidy and frankly dirty, with empty glasses, crisp wrappers and the like liberally dispersed, and picnicking guests were arranged around several of the coffee tables, perhaps put off by the rather sub-standard (and expensive) dining facilities on offer. All bar one of the Internet terminals was out of order. The Arora boasts that its guests can avail (sic) of state of the art hotel facilities including gym facilities in the hotel health and leisure club. I didnt inspect the gym facilities, and most (or all) of the services offered there probably werent included in the room rate anyway, but if the rest of the hotel was anything to go by, I should have been shocked to find the gym in any way state of the art. In addition to the café/bar in the main atrium area, there is also a dark, unpromising-looking brasserie and a second bar, Morgans Pub, which is a grim, dingy and smoke-filled affair, located in a smallish room down a corridor to the left of the reception desk. Both the drinks and the food offered at all of the Aroras in-house venues were extortionately priced and perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these venues were also largely empty.
The reception desk was a little chaotic when we arrived, and it took at least 15 minutes to complete our check in. As with a lot of hotels these days, the room doors, lights etc are operated by a plastic swipe card. Perhaps less commonly, however, this card was also required to operate the lifts. As we only had one card between us, parting company at any point involved running the risk of being stranded between floors without a card, and then hovering around stupidly, waiting for some other guest to come along to the rescue.
Our room was rather cramped, with garish, multicoloured bed linen, but the bathroom was clean & attractive, and the complimentary toiletries were probably better than average for a hotel of this standard. The kettle was a little difficult to negotiate, and accompanied by slightly confusing instructions. Only one teabag & one coffee sachet were supplied per person. The main disadvantage, however, was that the room was claustrophobic & effectively windowless, discounting the windows which overlooked the internal courtyard. I certainly did! My husband innocently opened these curtains whilst I was in the bathroom, before leaving to meet our friends in the bar downstairs. Upon re-entering the bedroom, I promptly exposed myself to two men walking along the passageway outside. Nice.
Anyway, having showered, I went downstairs & met my husband. We decided to walk into Crawley to find somewhere to eat, and asked for directions at the reception desk. We were promptly handed a photocopy of a rather hackneyed, hand-drawn (and as it happened, out-dated) map, with Crawleys restaurants listed numerically & identified on the map by number, ie 1) Burger King, 2) McDonalds, 3) Pizza Express etc. This map proved both misleading and unhelpful, and it seemed strange to encounter a lack of attention to detail on this scale in a supposedly 4-Star hotel. Surely this, at least, could be easily resolved if one of the staff were to spend a quiet afternoon fiddling about with Multimap & PowerPoint.
We eventually found a delightful little restaurant in Crawley, although it wasnt mentioned on the Aroras map. In any case, I can heartily recommend the La Bodega tapas bar on the Crawley High Street. Great atmosphere, excellent value, and some of the best tapas Ive had anywhere.
We had an early start the following morning & the hotels shuttle-bus to the airport ran on time. The trip to Gatwick took 10 minutes at most. Upon our return to the UK there wasnt a shuttle available, so the hotel dispatched a taxi, which arrived promptly & took us directly to our car.
This seems a fairly good point to conclude on. It is by no means the worst place I have ever stayed at, but I probably wouldnt recommend the Arora as a hotel per se, and am slightly incredulous at its 4 stars. Having said that, if you intend staying there simply to avoid an early start getting to Gatwick, with parking taking care of, it is a reasonable option. Just bear in mind that in a competitive market, the Arora isnt necessarily the most competitive option, so its probably worth shopping around.
La Bodega, 59 High St, Crawley. West Sussex. RH10 1BQ Ph: 01293 408080