A couple of friends of mine just got back from a whirlwind trip to England. On their way home from scenic York, they had to spend one night in London before their flight left from Heathrow Airport. Rather than staying in one of the off-site airport motels, they booked a 12-hour stay for 90 pounds.
To describe his thoughts on his experience in Heathrow’s Yotel, my friend Ray used words like “bargain” and “great value” and “wonderful.”
At a Yotel, you use your credit card (one with a chip in it, preferably) at an ATM-style self-op station when you arrive. The station spits out your key card. Though it’s common not to ever need to interact with a Yotel staff member during your stay, there’s always someone manning the desk to provide extras not typically inside the small private rooms–a meal, a beer, a shower stool. (I don’t actually know if they have shower stools.)
Most Yotel guests book their stays in advance–it’s the best way to be sure you’ve got a room. Rooms rent by the hour, with a four-hour minimum. While it’s possible to get a Yotel room on the spur of the moment if you get stuck in London or Amsterdam with a flight cancellation or severe delay, don’t count on it.
Ray describes his Yotel room as being like an interior stateroom on a big cruise ship. You get either built-in bunk beds or a motorized Murphy-futon-ish thing that lets couples sleep together in the same bed. The motorized two-person bed takes up most of the room when it’s folded out, but folds away so that a guest can use the desk to work on the free wi-fi or lounge about watching TV. Ray actually described the bathroom facilities as “spacious” (based on the photos, I would qualify that to “spacious considering the nature of the property”). What I like about the bathrooms–they’re private, even in the cheapest rooms. Private baths make life much, much easier for me as a traveler with bladder disease.
Best of all, according to Ray, was the location of the Yotel. Because it’s actually inside (non-security area) one of the terminals at Heathrow (same goes at Gatwick and Amsterdam), they were able to roll out of bed, and 15 minutes later be at the airport and ready to fly.
That would make a huge difference for me. Traveling with chronic pain, every little step I have to take on a transit day costs me energy and increases my pain. Here are the steps that Yotel removes from the process:
- Getting down to the hotel lobby and arranging for/waiting for transportation to the airport.
- Taking a taxi, shuttle, train, or subway to the airport.
- Walking from the taxi, subway, or shuttle to the check-in line.