Newest Review: ... room is wide with laminate flooring. In this vestibule, which has the bathroom off is the large fitted closet and opposite is the mini ba... more
A tale of two visits
Le Meridien (Heathrow)
Member Name: sarajackson
Le Meridien (Heathrow)
Date: 19/05/03, updated on 19/05/03 (114 review reads)
Advantages: Good upgraded rooms, Good bar and restaurant choice, Competitive parking inclusive packages
Disadvantages: Some rooms need updating, Unattractive exterior, No airport views!
Approaching the airport from the M4 spur, the first hotel close to Heathrow you come across is Le Meridien and passing it from the side you could begin to wonder if you have made the right choice. It does look pretty grotty, and the addition of a Travelodge at the rear in what used to be part of the hotel is not particularly reassuring. You could think, 'how good can this hotel be if it lends itself to containing a Travelodge?'. However on turning the corner onto Bath Road, the exterior image is slightly improved, and what is nonetheless a dated building, in common with the majority at Heathrow, appears less scruffy. On our first visit, it was unfortunate that the hotel was being refurbished and the reception area was non-existent. Instead the check in and concierge was in a makeshift tented/marquee area. As we were leaving our car for a week or so, we only had to inform them that we had booked a parking inclusive package, and ask if we needed to complete any form etc. Sometimes you are given a car park voucher (heaven knows why when you are flying off somewhere!), and other times they just check your booking and let you go. Unfortunately there was a bit of confusion, as the check in agent did not speak particularly good English and so there was a slight delay while we were given a voucher, and then I attempted to buy some Hotel Hoppa tickets, but soon we were able to be on our way.
On our return just over a week later, the marquee affair was
still there, and although it was fairly early morning we had no problem checking in and being given the key to our room. The hotel did seem to be in the middle of the refurbishment (this was October) and it really was a work in progress. Walking to the lifts we moved from the rather dated dirty looking carpeted area to a lovely modern style business lounge and into the sparkling lifts. The corridors were similarly modern and light with new fittings, carpets and wall coverings.
Once inside the room, you are immediately struck by its modern feel. The entrance to the room is wide with laminate flooring. In this vestibule, which has the bathroom off is the large fitted closet and opposite is the mini bar and tea/coffee making facilities in a corner unit, with mirror above (presumably so you can admire yourself making the tea!). Just as you enter the bedroom area, on one side is a full length mirror, and on the other a wooden trellis style alcove looking through towards the bed. This is a really attractive design feature, although the mirror really couldn't be in a less practical position. As you enter the bedroom the wood flooring stops and an attractive style of dark carpet begins with square pattern.
The walls are white, punctuated by inspiring Kandinsky prints (that are throughout the corridors too). I had spent the last couple of days trawling New York art galleries for a Kandinsky calendar for my Sister, so when confronted by three in my room, didn't know whether to laugh or cry! Just inside the bedroom is a small padded leather seat/suitcase table with matching leather sofa alongside. The bed is of normal double size - maybe slightly larger, and is covered in crisp white soft bedcovers and plump white pillows, with one large yellow and beige cushion. The headboard is a very modern high affair with two light colours of wood and fitted flexible lamps. There are also two bedside tables in a dark wood with two more lamps. At
the bottom of the bed a large long unit with TV joins with a desk, forming an L Shape unit that more or less acts as a room divider. Near the tall window is a table with leather upholstered chair. Our room actually overlooked the large car park, but although the view was not inspiring, it was not ugly or unpleasant either. We were both really impressed with the room, and all the facilities. Iron and board were provided, along with mini bar, good lighting, hairdryer, TV with alarm, teletext etc. The bathroom was also sparkling new with lots of well lit mirror space and nice toiletries! Beware the extortionate phone charges though, regardless of whether you use a phone charge card. I made three short UK calls, and was charged a £2.50 connection charge each, on top of the charge made by my phone company.
After sleeping during the day to get back on UK time, we got up later that afternoon. In the evening we started to look for something to eat and this is where we encountered our first problem with the hotel. Because of the renovations, there was one main restaurant open plus an Irish themed bar. As we only wanted a bar snack and were hoping for a drink and a sandwich etc in a modern style hotel bar, we were at a loss what to do. The Irish 'pub' was deserted, not really surprisingly, and so we decided to have a look elsewhere. We walked along Bath Road with the thought of trying the recently refurbished Posthouse (the white circular one!). We had tried to stay here a couple of years earlier, only to find that they had booked us into the Crest instead (doh!). To date we still haven't stayed at the Posthouse! The interior was really pleasing and we commented it was very much like what we expected Le Meridien would be like when it was finished. We managed to get some really fantastic Ciabatta sandwiches - just what the doctor ordered. At this time, Le Meridien and the Posthouse were still owned by the same company, and we explained th
at we were staying at Le Meridien and were credited with double the Frequent Stay points for our meal at the Posthouse.
Next day we checked out of Le Meridien perfectly happy with our stay, even if we did have to eat elsewhere, and totally prepared to stay there another time.
In January after spending New Year in Toronto, we decided to stay at Le Meridien again. As it was a Thursday night, and often the bargains are only Friday to Sunday, Le Meridien was the best value parking inclusive package we found. We paid £85 again, but this time we booked through ABC Holiday Extras, as Le Meridien did not seem to have publicised their Park and Fly Package since the sale of the chain.
When we had dropped off our car we were really pleased by the renovations. Where huge tarpaulins were last time was a impressive lobby with check in desks straight ahead. The main lifts were to the left with the bar and restaurant further past. Trying to find the Ladies, I sneaked a peak at the bar area, and the modern style made me look forward to my stay less than a week later.
When we checked in for our night's stay it was again early morning, about 9am, and similarly to the time before, we were given the key to our room straight away. We were asked if we wanted to upgrade our room for £10, and thinking back to our lovely room we had last time, did not see the need. We were pointed in the direction of the lifts, different to the set we used last time and walked out into a corridor that could have been in a different hotel. Gloomy. The carpets were terribly dated and old, and it looked as if we had stumbled upon a long forgotten wing of the hotel. We entered our room hesitantly, and our worst fears were realised. The room was awful, old and way past needing refurbishment. Also we had been given a smoking room. For a couple of minutes we stood open-mouthed before we returned downstairs to Check In. A very pleasant
housekeeping maid asked us if we weren't happy with the room, and we said not really, and that it was a Smoking room. She confirmed all on this floor were.
Once at check in I spoke to the same check in agent, and asked if we could take advantage of the upgrade after all, due to the grotty room. He made some excuse that I now forget, but which made no sense at all. For a second time we went to find our room, this time taking the other lifts, and emerging from them to a totally different image. The corridors and rooms this time were exactly like the ones we had experienced on our last visit, and contented we settled down for our daytime sleep in the superbly appointed and attractive room.
We were glad on this occasion that we were able to visit the bar in the hotel. The bar itself is quite small, but pleasant to spend some time in. The drinks menu contains various bottled lagers, ciders etc but with few draught beers, and all were quite expensive. We chose a couple of light meals from the bar menu, and enjoyed them, although the innovative and delicious sandwiches we had at the Posthouse were still better.
I would have no hesitation in staying at Le Meridien again but I would always check I was getting one of the nicer rooms. I filled in the guest questionnaire and was pleased to have my criticisms of the original room replied to specifically. I always think responding to comments made on these vague questionnaires beyond the call of duty, and I was impressed that the Management thought it justified to do so. I was told that when the refurbishments are completed that all rooms will be of the standard of our 'upgraded' room, and although I am a little cynical whether this is true (I am guessing they are a 'business' room), I am happy that the Management realise that some rooms are not up to standard. I expect the worst rooms are kept for coach tours etc and possibly for people who book through companies such as
ABC or Superbreak, but maybe we were just unlucky! Better to check if you are staying there.
There are plenty of choices at Heathrow, a lot in the £80 to £100 price range, including at least 15 days parking. If the price is right I would stay at Le Meridien, but it wouldn't be top of my list compared to others like the new Marriott.
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