Newest Review: ... cafés, water features, tasteful music and a subdued and expensive atmosphere. (Back in the 80's we had shiny floors and a piano that played... more
***** Save The Heat For The Holiday, Please. *****
Sofitel London Gatwick (Crawley)
Member Name: malibu_jenny
Sofitel London Gatwick (Crawley)
Date: 11/06/12, updated on 11/06/12 (40 review reads)
Advantages: Good location and good facilities.
Disadvantages: Expensive extras, rubbish air con and strange beds.
It was an unexpectedly warm and balmy night as we arrived at Gatwick by train. Our plan was to get away from the terrible English weather by visiting The Boy's mum in Spain, so we were a bit perplexed to find that the week we'd booked had become a heat wave. It had been a quiet and relaxing after work journey, with M&M spying cows and sheep in the rolling Surrey countryside, but time was wearing on and bedtime was in our sights.
The Boy lurked outside having a cigarette, while M&M and I looked for the entrance to the Sofitel at the North Terminal. We were flying from the South Terminal, but the monorail between the two is quick and easy. It wasn't well signposted, so we wandered past it before realising that the covered walkway leads out from the escalator area and that there's no need to go past the shops. I had happy childhood memories of staying at the Sofitel (though back then it was Le Meridian and something else), so when I realised our check in time would be 7am, I booked it without hesitation. I know, I know, staying in the airport is expensive - but when you factor in the worry of having to get a shuttle to an outside hotel and all the possible lateness in the morning when you have to drag bags and a buggy and traipse round a dozen other hotels waiting for people to get their things loaded up, it becomes worthwhile. And I'd booked through Booking.com, making the price for our room £142.
We entered into the enormous lobby area; the hotel is built round this central courtyard, with brightly lit glass lifts shooting up the sides and inward facing rooms overlooking it. There are a couple of bistro and bar type cafés, water features, tasteful music and a subdued and expensive atmosphere. (Back in the 80's we had shiny floors and a piano that played itself. Some things can't be improved upon, I suppose.) Annoyingly, the reception desk had an equally enormous queue, most of which seemed to consist of people complaining.
When the couple ahead of us had finished complaining, we swooped, anxious to check in. The process was annoyingly slow. The first major irritation was that although I'd booked weeks in advance, the rooms are allocated first come, first served on the night. So at 9.30pm, we'd ended up with the absolute dross. By that, I mean the rooms over the monorail, which are noisy, with a monorail shuttling past every couple of minutes all night long. I point blank refused these and the receptionist (who to give her her due, was very pleasant about this) managed to find us an interior room looking over the atrium. I think this was in part owing to the charms of M&M, who was perched on the counter, smiling and chatting. I was relieved we didn't get a room overlooking the runway; The Boy is an unenthusiastic flier, to say the least.
The second irritation was that we needed a credit card. Not a debit card. I have debit cards, I'm good for the money, so why are they not enough? On production of The Boy's credit card, the fact that we have different surnames produced a reaction of shock and confusion. I'm not sure if this creates an issue with the computer system, or whether it was just outright horror that we aren't married. But this took time to resolve.
What next? Did we want a cot for M&M? Very thoughtful of you, but no. I have no intention of paying your astronomical cot charge when I know full well my child won't sleep anywhere other than in the bed with me. Did we want breakfast? No, not for an extra £20 per person. Especially when we can get some fruit and so on from the M&S at the entrance. We finally got our card keys and headed up to the fourth floor.
The room was okay, but not designed for two (or even three) people in my opinion. It was tiny and narrow, with a spectacular view over the atrium from the full length window. The odd shape made me wonder if they'd carved the rooms up to get more people in since my last visit. A small coffee table with just one chair was by the window, with a small double bed in the middle. A large mirror faced the bed, with a wooden shelf underneath. Below the shelf was the empty mini-bar, which was handy for storing the breakfast. Above were tea and coffee making facilities and one of those tellies that looks like a computer monitor. It was all fairly standard, if cramped. The small bathroom had a fixed head shower over the bath, a deep white basin and matching toilet. There were a couple of meanly sized and very threadbare towels and a set of those cheap generic 'spa' shampoo, conditioner and bodywash. Here I was particularly disappointed, having seen from tripadvisor that other reviewers fared better.
The air conditioning in our room didn't work properly and given it was so hot outside and we were three to a bed, we spent an unpleasantly warm night. M&M had a tooth coming and was ridiculously overexcited, sitting up in bed and shouting until she was coerced into sleeping in a headlock. The bed itself was fairly comfortable, but a strange arrangement, with a duvet type mattress cover underneath you. This only made us all more hot and bothered. All said and done, it was an uncomfortable arrangement and I think if I had the choice, I'd have gone for a 'normal' bed. Or at least a full size double.
It was one of those nights where the alarm goes off about a minute after you finally get to sleep. The tea facilities were very welcome in the morning and M&M and I took it in turns to sit in the solitary chair at the table. She was too excited to eat the fruit and 6am was too early for anyone else. Mostly it got thrown on the floor. The shower was good and powerful, with decent water pressure. I'd washed my hair the night before, so a splash of the body wash was enough. The mirror was well lit, so I applied a thick coating of eyeliner and pocketed the shower cap and a pack of cotton buds which had been provided. The water was nice and soft too, so cleaning your teeth is pleasantly foamy. I emerged refreshed into our muggy, steamy room and shouted again at The Boy, who was still trying to sleep.
The lifts on the way down were slow. The kind of slow where you would definitely take the stairs if you didn't have luggage. Looking around with a fresh pair of eyes, the corridors are pretty dated and shabby. Thankfully the checkout was a great deal quicker than check-in and our flight was sufficiently delayed so that we were able to maintain a leisurely pace. They have online check in available at the doors for those who aren't travelling with infants. A nice touch, which means that you can just drop your bags off and save queuing if you so desire.
All in all, the dreadful air conditioning and the funny bed made it difficult to sleep, but if you want to breeze into the airport in the morning, you can't beat the convenience of the Sofitel.
Summary: A little tired, but still better than the Hilton.
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