A LONG wait between connecting flights is no joke, but in these days of international business travel and early holiday departures, sometimes it’s a necessity.
So, how to make the changeover as smooth and stress-free as possible? For starters, the Hilton at Gatwick is conveniently within the South Terminal, accessed via a covered walkway, which means you’re only a few minutes’ walk from the arrivals lounge. The public areas have recently been refurbished, leaving them light and airy, with a dramatic atrium that houses a bar area and restaurant – so far, so inviting.
WINING AND DINING? An occupational hazard of flying is that, occasionally, flights are delayed. So when I arrived rather later than expected, the dinner service had already finished. Could I have something to eat anyway, I asked, stomach audibly rumbling. It was, after all, included as part of my bill. Yes, of course, I could order from room service. But that would cost extra. It was a bit of a black mark against the Hilton, which otherwise scored highly with its early bird buffet breakfast (5.30am kick-off), cocktail bar and new sports bar. There’s also a Costa coffee shop on site, which is open from 5am until 9pm.
ROOM SERVICE? The tea and coffee making facilities (not to mention the fingers of shortbread) were most welcome in the absence of anything more substantial. The bathroom goodies included everything and anything I might not have in my little plastic bag of hand luggage liquids (except, perhaps, deodorant), and the bed was so comfortable I drifted off into a dream-free sleep in no time. That was probably helped by the fact that all windows are triple-glazed so I couldn’t hear a peep from outside, and the curtains are of the black-out variety. Oh, and the MP3 plug-in was a welcome bonus.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR? Well, you have a flight to catch, don’t you, so let’s hope you don’t sleep in. But if you have some time to kill, you could always take the express into central London – you’ll be there in 30 minutes.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE? With a whopping 821 bedrooms, it is certainly not boutique though, for such a large hotel, it has managed to create a certain sense of intimacy.
LITTLE EXTRAS? If you’re staying in an Executive room, you can take advantage of the executive lounge, where continental breakfast is served between 6am and 10.30am and complimentary canapés and pre-dinner drinks make an especially warm welcome between 6pm and 9pm. At the business end of things, free wifi and internet terminals are also available. For families there are triple rooms, baby cots, rooms with bunk beds and family rooms. For fit freaks and insomniacs, the small but sufficient gymis open 24 hours.
GUESTBOOK COMMENTS? Convenient and comfortable, it’s the perfect place for a layover.
• Hilton London, South Terminal Gatwick Airport, West Sussex (01293 518080, www.hilton.co.uk/gatwick), from £92 per room per night