Foreign holidays. Many of us love them. Getting there, though, can be quite a task, especially if the journey involves flying from Scotland to another UK airport to catch an international flight that isn’t scheduled to fly until the following day.
That’s the position I found myself in on a trip to Costa Rica, which involved flying from Edinburgh on a Friday evening to catch a relatively early morning flight from Gatwick. London’s second airport is no longer the uncomfortable, under-seated purgatory that it once was for those forced to wait long hours in its passenger halls, but, still, I had no intention of staying up all night.
There are plenty of hotel and B&B options just a few minutes’ taxi ride from London’s second airport. But I’m one of life’s worriers. What if the taxi I ordered to take me back to the airport for my Costa Rica flight didn’t turn up? It’s happened to me before, on a trip of Switzerland, where I found myself standing in the wet and cold for a cab that never arrived. The driver’s probably the same bloke who decided to cut the number of triangles in UK-issue Toblerones.
Unreliable drivers aside, what if there was a jam on those traffic-choked south of England roads, or an accident? I knew that if I wanted to sleep soundly the night before my ten-hour flight to central America I was much better off staying at the airport, and luckily for me, the Bloc Hotel, Gatwick, provides both rooms and peace of mind for the pessimistic traveller, as well as those who simply can’t be bothered with the hassle of leaving the airport and returning just a few hours later.
Budget or boutique?
Search the internet and you can find rooms at Bloc Gatwick from around £70. You may save a few quid by getting a B&B outside the airport but it would be just that – a few. Bloc Hotels are stripped down to the basics – there are no chairs in the rooms, for instance – but everything that is provided does exactly what it’s meant to. Bloc knows that you’re likely to be spending just a few hours in your room and most of that time you’ll be asleep in the supremely comfortable bed or using the bathroom, and that’s what the hotel concentrates on.
Let’s face it, it’s a crash pad. You pick up your door entry card at the hotel’s reception on the airport concourse, take the lift up to your floor, find your room, set your alarm clock and go to bed. Its beauty is in its location. That’s not to say Bloc’s rooms are without charm. They are small but perfectly formed; modern, clean and comfortable.
There’s no bath in the bathroom, nor a separate shower cubicle, but the shower’s excellent and positioned so that it doesn’t soak the entire room – though the spare toilet roll is covered by a clear plastic box, just in case.
In my room the king-size bed had walls on three sides, with a large flat-screen TV mounted on the wall at the base of the bed. Ambient lighting, the TV and the blinds for the window that overlooked the runway in my room are controlled with a computer tablet. Remarkably, even though jets were taking off and landing just a short distance away, there was no noise in the room.
Wining and dining
Bloc don’t do their own catering, but guests get a booklet of discount vouchers for airport bars, restaurants and shops. I’d already eaten at Edinburgh Airport (the pint and burger deal in departures, if you must know) but a journalist who was joining me on the trip to Costa Rica found reasonable fare at the Nicholas Culpeper – a bar/restaurant in Gatwick’s North Terminal – after flying in from Jersey.
Worth getting out of bed for
Your flight. Once you’ve made sure you’ve not left anything behind in your room, simply walk along the corridor and take the lift to reception, where you drop your key card into a box on the wall and step out on to the concourse in plenty of time for check-in.
The free wi-fi is quick.
Clean, comfortable and, most of all, convenient, Bloc Gatwick is ideal for travellers with an overnight gap between flights.
Rooms at Bloc Hotel Gatwick can be booked through www.blochotels.com or through hotel booking sites. See website for latest prices