LIZZY Buchan stops off at a Travelodge before a Transatlantic flight
AN EARLY morning flight is always a nightmare, especially an early morning flight from the sprawling monster of an airport that is London Heathrow.
Anything that can make those bleary-eyed hours more pleasant is welcome, which is why I opted to stay at Heathrow Central Travelodge ahead of a transatlantic flight the next morning.
Airport hotels can be a bit grim, but Travelodges tend to deliver ahead of many of their competitors, with a very friendly price tag attached. One word of warning – this Travelodge is not actually at Heathrow but three miles down the road in Hounslow. The taxi rank at Heathrow Terminal 5, where you will have flown to from Edinburgh, tried to charge an extraordinary £25 fare for the journey, but you can take an airport bus which potters past all of the hotels claiming to be based at Heathrow. The skinflint’s option is to hop on the tube for two stops to Hounslow West and then take a five-minute bus ride up to the hotel itself, although this is not as easy as it sounds when children and tons of luggage enter the equation.
BUDGET OR BOUTIQUE?
Definitely budget. The rooms are slightly utilitarian but clean and simple with everything you could need. Don’t expect an array of toiletries, although the handy hairdryer was a bonus.
My room was spacious, with two double beds and a nicely lit en-suite bathroom, as well as plenty of hanging space and storage. The window looked out on to a rather uninspiring west London car park but that wouldn’t really matter if you were arriving late and leaving early, as I was. The beds were surprisingly comfortable and the soft lighting was soothing to my frazzled nerves after a long journey. The rooms also come with a TV and free wi-fi for 30 minutes, after which the cost is £3 for 24 hours.
WINING AND DINING
The dining room is pretty basic and offers an ambience similar to that of an airport departure lounge, but the staff are very sweet and helpful. The restaurant was still serving food at 9.30pm when I finally arrived. I opted for a chicken burger with salad, which arrived promptly but was sadly reminiscent of a school dinner. There is also a bar stocking a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, and a late night menu so you can get a bite to eat between 10pm and 6am.
Breakfast is extra but my unlimited brekkie for £7.95 seemed like a good deal, with a cooked option, unlimited coffee and tea, or pastries, yoghurts and fruit if I’d preferred something lighter. Children also eat free if parents buy the deal.
Next time I might opt for the ‘Breakfast To Go’, which offers a helpful package of juice, cereal bars and yoghurts for £4.95 to scoff on the way to the airport.
WORTH GETTING OUT OF BED FOR
You can easily head into central London by getting the tube from Hounslow to Covent Garden or Piccadilly Circus for an afternoon visiting some of the Big Smoke’s top attractions. If you have a bit more time to play with, the hotel is a handy base for visiting Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures and Legoland, all within a 30-mile radius.
Pop in to see Her Majesty at Windsor Castle, take a trip to Eton College or bring your flounciest hat for a day at Ascot racecourse.
The airport bus runs throughout the night and you can book tickets with the front desk to make that early morning trip a bit easier.
For a small fee checkout times are flexible so you can push your departure time to 2pm, ideal for travellers who want to relax at their hotel before a later flight. You can also arrive at 12pm, rather than the standard 3pm, if that suits your flights better.
Functional and cheap, the London Heathrow Central Travelodge provides a comfortable and uncomplicated option just a short distance from the airport.
• Rooms available from £39 per night. Heathrow Central Travelodge, Hertz House, 700 Bath Road, Hounslow, Middlesex TW5 9TW, 0871 984 6249, www.travelodge.co.uk