“ Address: Spittlesea Road / Luton LU2 9NZ „
~I hate early starts~
I'm really not a morning person. In theory it ought to be possible to take a 7.45 am flight from Luton when you live about an hour away. But when you add in the semi-permanent road-works on the M1, the nasty habits of easyJet and their unforgiving attitude to lateness and my inability to sleep properly if I know I have to be up too early, and it's pretty pointless to even try. I don't really like Luton airport but when I needed to be in Barcelona for a couple of days, it was the only airport in the region that offers direct flights. I saved so much on the costs that I had not compunction about booking a hotel for the night before (especially since I was charging it to work), knowing that any other way of getting to my destination in time would have meant a much longer journey and an extra night in Spain.
I knew that there were two hotels at the airport really close to the terminal - the Holiday Inn Express and the Ibis and the Ibis came up slightly cheaper on the booking sites. I booked through Booking.com because I get about 8% cash-back through Topcashback.co.uk and I paid £75 pounds room only. By getting my husband to drop me off and then come back for me, he got to play with my car whilst I was away and we saved on the car parking.
~Hunt your hotel~
We arrived at about 10 o'clock in the evening. Our first challenge was to find the entrance and we guessed wrongly and ended up trying to get into completely the wrong car park before turning round and going back to the roundabout and then taking the road opposite the turning to the Holiday Inn Express. The hotel's car park is not enormous but there was plenty of space the day we visited and we had no problem at all to find somewhere to leave the car. I suspect that the hotel doesn't do 'park and stay' deals where you can leave the car for your whole holiday. If they did the car park would need to be a lot bigger but the mid-stay car park is in easy walking distance or the long stay parks are a short drive away.
There were a couple of people ahead of us checking in but they were soon dealt with and it was our turn. The receptionist was a lovely lady called Dorothy who made us feel very welcome and politely dealt with my question about where her accent was from (turned out it was Kenya) and dealt with our enquiries about car parking charges and how to get to the terminal. We had pre-paid but even so it was nice to NOT get asked for a credit card for any 'extras' as that tends to be the norm in such places. She took my A-club card (Accor hotel chain loyalty card) and I'll be interested to see whether I get any points for my stay.
We were about as far as it's possible to be from the reception, down a corridor, up a few stairs and along another long corridor. The carpets in the corridor were green with a pattern of red poppies which had the unfortunate affect of making me think of the First World War.
~Welcome to Podland~
Stepping into the room it was immediately obvious that it was an IBIS room. The clearest sign was the classic IBIS 'pod' bathroom. My husband hadn't seen one before and said it looked like a train toilet and I knew what he meant. Everything about IBIS rooms is pared down to the absolute minimum. You don't get a wardrobe - just a small hanging rail and some shelves. The desk is very narrow, there's a wooden platform that might be intended as a bag stand (that's what I used it for) or could be a particularly unwelcoming, hard seat. There was a tray with a kettle and sachets for hot drinks which I expected and a hairdryer which I didn't expect. I've stayed in several IBIS hotels where they only had a couple of hairdryers for the whole hotel. There was a small wall-mounted flat screen television and a bizarre magazine rack underneath which seemed to be the only thing in the place that wasn't absolutely necessary (or of any practical use).
The bathroom 'pod' had a shower with really good water pressure but the drainage was poor and I flooded the bathroom floor when I used it. You don't get much in the way of toiletries with IBIS - a small bar of soap and some combi shower gell/shampoo in a wall mounted dispenser. I knew to expect that so I'd taken my own supplies along. The lighting in the bathroom was very good though.
The floor was laminated wood and the bed was very strange. It seemed like a mattress on a board perched on a very flimsy base. It was the noisiest bed I've ever had the misfortune to lie on - I didn't dare turn over in the night for fear of waking the entire hotel. The room had an air conditioning unit, good lighting and was clean and tidy though obviously very 'minimalist' in terms of its facilities. Given that we only wanted a place to sleep for a few hours, it had everything that we needed and nothing more. The room was amazingly quiet (apart from the creaky bed) and I was surprised that an airport hotel could be so peaceful.
We left at 6.30 in the morning and skipped breakfast although at £7.50 for a full breakfast I thought it sounded like really good value. We were charged £5 for parking our car in the hotel car park overnight which was better than if we'd left it in the airport car park. There's no shuttle service to the airport directly from the IBIS but there's a bus stop outside the Holiday Inn, just a couple of minutes walk away if you need it. To be fair it would only take ten minutes to walk to the terminal.
I'm not generally a fan of IBIS hotels but I was quite impressed by the Luton Airport IBIS. It was much quieter than I'd expected and the staff were lovely. The shower was excellent and even the creaky bed was OK so long as I didn't move. If I had to take an early Luton flight again, I would certainly consider using the IBIS again.