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The Arora International Hotel, Crawley
Hotels in Crawley
Member Name: snowbunni
Hotels in Crawley
Advantages: Close to Gatwick, Good Value Long Term Parking Options
Disadvantages: Doesn't Really Merit It's 4 Stars...
Arora International Hotel, Crawley.
Parking at airports is notoriously expensive. The toll for a short-stay at one of Heathrow’s multi-storey car parks ticks over as quickly as the meter in a London cab. When flying from Stansted, it’s not uncommon to find that the bill for the parking eventually exceeds the cost of the flight itself. Then there’s Gatwick, which is generally no better. Happily, a number of hotels in the vicinity of London’s 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 night’s 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 Crawley’s town centre and was easy enough to find. It is a large, modern-looking building, with a square glass atrium at its entrance. The hotel’s 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 hotel’s 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 didn’t inspect the gym facilities, and most (or all) of the services offered there probably weren’t 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, ‘Morgan’s 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 Arora’s 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 Crawley’s 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 wasn’t mentioned on the Arora’s 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 I’ve had anywhere.
We had an early start the following morning & the hotel’s shuttle-bus to the airport ran on time. The trip to Gatwick took 10 minutes at most. Upon our return to the UK there wasn’t 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 wouldn’t 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 isn’t necessarily the most competitive option, so it’s probably worth shopping around.
La Bodega, 59 High St, Crawley. West Sussex. RH10 1BQ Ph: 01293 408080
Summary: Not a Great Hotel, but Good For Gatwick Parking
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