What’s it like? Owned by TAG Aviation and located on the perimiter of Farnborough airport, Aviator is housed within a sleek, curved building resembling an aircraft propeller when viewed from above. The hotel officially opened on July 21, and is being managed by McCulloch Unique Hotels, Ken McCulloch being the founder of the trendy Malmaison hotel brand. The curves continue inside (the hotel’s interiors are designed by Amanda Rosa, McCulloch’s wife), with a bright white staircase and rotunda softened by lavender lighting around the edges, and the odd splash of colour from ornaments and flower displays. You’d be forgiven for thinking you were entering a private member’s club as you climb the stairs to the first floor reception area, accompanied by a “meeter and greeter” from the ground-floor entrance.
Aviator is counting on the plethora of large companies located in Farnborough to bring in the corporate business, with the likes of Nokia, RBS, Sony Ericsson and BAE all having headquarters in the area. Certainly there is nothing quite like this new property in the town, with alternatives in the area including the new-look Holiday Inn Farnborough, the Ramada Farnham and the Lakeside International Hotel.
Where is it? Five minutes drive from Farnborough (Main) train station, which in turn is around 40 minutes from central London. If arriving by car, the hotel is located on Farnborough Road (A325) towards Aldershot from the town centre.
How many rooms? There are 169 rooms in total, split into four categories: 69 Aviator rooms overlooking Farnborough Road (measuring 27sqm), another 69 Aviator Air rooms (identical to the Aviator category but with views of the airport and runway), 12 Aviator Plus rooms (35-40sqm), and 19 Sky Studios (56sqm) located on the fourth floor.
Room facilities The hotel’s rooms are all located down the “blades” of the building off the central rotunda. Room décor is slightly more muted than the ultra-modern entrance stairwell, with beige, dark wood and pastels being the predominant colours. There are nice touches like aviation-themed pictures on the walls, and steel model aircraft and globes in the higher room categories. All rooms have complimentary wired and wifi internet access, flatscreen TVs with free movies on demand (the Sky Studios have two TVs, one in the lounge area and another in the bedroom), air-conditioning, Bose surround sound systems, Egyptian cotton sheets, tea and coffee facilities with cafetiere, minibar, laptop safe, iron / ironing board, hairdryer, and wet room-style bathrooms with walk-in rain shower and Ren toiletries. Sky Studios also have a bathtub, and some include flatscreen TVs in the bathroom. This room category also benefits from a walk-in wardrobe, floor-to-ceiling windows from which to watch the private jets landing and taking off from Farnborough, and access to the Skylounge, a bar cum meeting area also on the fourth floor.
Restaurants and Bars Brasserie, the hotel’s main restaurant, is located on the ground floor and features modern European cuisine from head chef Allan Pickett (formerly of Galvin Bistro de Luxe). There is a bar area as you walk in, a terrace overlooking the airport for summer dining, and a private dining room at one end. When I stayed at the hotel the menu included starters such as Maldon oysters with lemon and shallot vinegar (£11.50), and Endive salad with blue cheese and walnuts (£6.50), while main courses included a delicious Cornish lemon sole in nut brown butter (£15), and slow roast old spot pork belly with cider (£14). Breakfast is also served here, at £15 for a range of cooked options, or £10 for continental.
On the same floor to the front of the hotel, Deli is open from 7am-6pm Mon-Sat and 7.30am-4.30pm Sun, serving an alternative breakfast and snacks including antipasti and cheeseboards. Finally on the first floor there is the stylish Skybar, again with views out onto the runway.
Business and meeting facilities The seven meeting rooms are located down one wing of the hotel, with a separate entrance and reception available for larger events. Room capacities range from 4-90 delegates, some including terrace breakout areas and all with floor-to-ceiling windows and Bose sound systems. Wifi internet access is once again complimentary and available throughout the meeting rooms, and there is parking space on site for 169 cars. The hotel also has a partnership with FIVE, a 4,400 sqm exhibition and events venue within Farborough airport.
Leisure facilities There is a gym located on the ground floor at the far end of the hotel past the meeting rooms, and to avoid guests having to traipse through reception in their sports wear, there is direct access via a set of stairs to the guest room levels. There are also two lounge areas on the hotel’s first floor, one with music and one without for guests to relax in.
Verdict Stylish, welcoming and with great views across the airport’s runway (and remember Farnborough’s hours of operation are from 7am-10pm, so your sleep shouldn’t be affected). Cost-conscious travellers may still opt for the Holiday Inn, whose rates start from around £125 midweek, but there is no doubt Aviator offers something a little different to the corporate market.
Price Aviator Rooms cost £195 per night, with Aviator Plus Rooms at £215, and the Sky Studios at £295.