“ Address: Fleming Way, Crawley Business Quarter, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 9DF / 0871 527 9214 „
We only live about a two hour drive away from Gatwick airport but if we have a morning flight I much prefer to arrive the previous evening, do Twilight Check-in with Virgin and then know that there is no rush in the morning and that there is no chance of missing our flight due to traffic hold-ups. For the last few years we have had an overnight hotel included as a bonus on our holiday due to being regular flyers but for my last booking I could cancel that and have an extra 5% off the price of my whole trip which was obviously a better option. However that left me with the dilemma of where to book for this trip.
I had stayed at a Premier Inn in the summer near Ashford and since the accommodation was OK I decided to see what they offered around Gatwick. There seemed to be a few to choose from but I opted for the Manor Royal as it was new and my husband knew the exact location as he visits some offices on the same business park, I also liked the fact that there was free parking.
Booking was very quick and easy using the Premier Inn website and although I guaranteed the booking with my Credit Card the payment would not be taken until we arrived. We printed the directions off the website just in case my other half was mistaken and I also added breakfast onto our booking as well. I printed off the confirmation and we were all set.
The hotel was very easy to find at around 2 miles from the airport. It had a very large car park so it was easy to park. I was pleased about this as we have stayed at some hotels in the area where the parking is dreadful and you daren't leave in the evening as you will never find a space when you return.
The entrance lobby was bright and clean and we were greeted by a pleasant receptionist. We gave her the booking reference but then she said she had to show us how to work the check-in machines. Firstly she said I needed the card that I had made the booking with, unfortunately I had left that one at home as I only use it for internet purchases and I had forgotten to pick it up. She said that was fine and then said we would need to enter the confirmation number. This was all done on a touch screen and was perfectly straightforward; however we then had to fill in all the names etc of each family member staying in the room. I thought this unnecessary as they knew there were four of us and I did not appreciate having to type in everyone's title and full name on a very slow touch screen on full view to everyone else in the lobby. The machine then requested another payment card to complete the transaction and then produced four room keys and a receipt with our room number on it. The whole process seemed very lengthy and I was more than a little irritated by the time I had finished it.
We were on the fourth floor so we used our door keys to open the internal doors to the lift area and were quickly on the required floor. Once again we had to use the door key to gain entry to the landing. I liked this idea because I used to travel on my own with business and the extra security would have given me some peace of mind.
On opening the door we found ourselves in a relatively small room. We had booked a "family room" as there were two adults and a 16 and 13 year old. The extra beds had been made up but there was barely any space between them at all, we all had to get on and off the beds at the foot end as you couldn't walk around any of them except one side of the double bed. The room had a small desk and chair (this was only a desk not a dressing table, there was no mirror) and one storage unit which consisted of a few small shelves, one of which held a rather small television and one had a kettle with tea and coffee. There were also four hooks on the wall but no hanging rail or drawers. I know this is probably only ever used as a stopover hotel but there was really nowhere to put anything, all our clothes had to be folded and put on the desk for storage. There was a full length mirror outside the bathroom and the hairdryer was also in the storage unit. This meant in the morning we were all trying to fight our way around the bathroom door as people were trying to dress, do hair and makeup and even shave since the bathroom could not be "de-steamed" and this was the only mirror.
The bathroom was small but it had the essentials: toilet, hand basin and shower over a small bath. I was shocked by the small number of towels but then we spotted the spares on the top shelf of the unit in the bedroom. The extractor fan didn't work which we didn't realise until my husband had taken a shower and the mirror then stayed completely steamed up for the rest of the morning. There was liquid soap provided at the sink and in the shower, attached to the wall.
I hadn't appreciated that evening meals were available at the hotel and I had already promised the children a trip to Pizza Hut but I looked at the menu and there seemed quite a good variety with reasonable prices.
As it grew closer to bedtime we found the lighting in the room rather gloomy, we just couldn't get it very bright and there were not enough reading lights for all of the beds. However when we snuggled down to sleep my husband and I agreed that the bed was incredibly comfortable. I usually do not sleep at all well on the first night in a new hotel and I am even worse when I know I have got to be up to catch a plane in the morning. It is testament to what a superbly comfortable bed the Premier Inn offered in the fact that I slept like a log all night. The curtains kept the room very dark and the double glazing kept it very quiet, we didn't hear other occupants either even though it was fully booked. My daughter was unlucky in that she definitely had a far more uncomfortable bed, it had a very thin mattress and was quite hard, my son's bed seemed ok and he didn't complain.
I had booked breakfast at the hotel as I thought it would give us a good start to the day. Children 15 and under eat free with an adult at breakfast. There was a nice selection of food on offer and we were greeted at the door, given a quick walk around so that we knew where everything was before we were shown to a table. There was a good variety of cereals, croissants, breakfast fruits such as grapefruit, fruit juices, muesli and porridge with dried fruits and seeds, white and brown toast with a selection of spreads and then various cooked options including bacon eggs sausages beans and mushrooms. We all ate a hearty breakfast and the waiting staff were efficient at keeping the dining room clean and tidy.
We then collected our bags and popped our keys in the exit box as we left.
Overall I would say that I would use this hotel again. I liked the cleanliness and the fact that everything was fresh and new and my bed was heavenly. The proximity to the airport was great and I believe they do a park and fly option which I will investigate next time. I was disappointed with the size of the room, for four of us it really was a tight squeeze; I have stayed in larger family rooms at Premier Inns. The breakfast was nice and for £85 for the family it was about as reasonable as I could find around Gatwick.