News

Bloc Hotels to open high-tech Gatwick property

21 Nov 2013 by Jenny Southan

Bloc Hotels will open its first airport property at Gatwick on February 1.

The South Terminal hotel will feature 245 high-tech rooms, which can be booked through a dedicated app and are controlled entirely by your smartphone.

Guests will be able to use their phones to perform tasks including unlocking the door with NFC (near-field communication) technology, adjusting the lighting, black-out blinds and air conditioning, and changing the channels on a Samsung HDTV.

Bloc director Rob Morgan told Business Traveller: “Your smartphone has become your wallet, keys and remote. It’s called the ‘internet of things’.”

For those without a smartphone, the rooms will also be equipped with Samsung tablets, embedded in the walls, that offer the same functionality.

The concept is to automate the experience to make it as easier as possible for the traveller, so booking, payment, check-in (via a kiosk in reception or the app), access to the room, billing and check-out is entirely automated.

Technophobes will be pleased to hear that there will also be conventional keycards and television remotes, as well as a staffed front desk.

Morgan said: “Guests can just sleep, shower and go. They will not have to hang around waiting to check out.”

The new Bloc hotel will be located in the South Terminal’s landside area, just before security, and is set to be the company’s flagship property (it opened its first and only other property in Birmingham in 2011). The four-floor hotel sits on top of the airport in an old office building that has been converted.

Rooms will be an average of 10 sqm and priced from £59 per night (day rates from £29), with standard rooms on the lowest two levels (five and six). All rooms come with “the very best sound-proofing”, Egyptian cotton linens, walk-in “monsoon drench” showers, Artemide ambient lighting, and free high-speed wifi.

Morgan said: “Free wifi is a brand standard. It annoys people to have to pay for it — they expect it to be free these days. We don’t want to charge for lots of in-room additions — guests will also find free water, and loads of towels and pillows.”

The biggest rooms will be on the corners of the hotel. These will be designed to a higher spec with bigger TVs and Armani Roca bathrooms, as well as views of the runway and surrounding countryside.

Floor seven will be for business-only rooms. These will have workdesks instead of drop-down bunks as in family rooms (although these also cleverly transform into a work surface when folded away).

The rooms will be broken down as follows:

  • Snug double (without window)
  • Vista double (with window)
  • Smart double/family (changeable rooms with either desk or bunk)
  • Aspire double/family (corner rooms with corner window and changeable desk or bunk)
  • VIP (large corner rooms with corner window, Armani Roca bathrooms, Missoni Bolon floor)
  • Presidential Suite (22 sqm metres, large corner window, Armani Roca bathroom with separate dressing area, Herringbone wooden floors, separate lounge area).

Sky TV will be available free in higher category rooms (floors seven and eight), as well as the option to dial up to super-fast wifi and get premium lane security passes for the airport.

There will also be the option of packages that include dinner at Giraffe, for example, access to the No.1 Traveller lounge for breakfast, and airport parking.

“We hope to roll out Bloc to city centre locations and transport hubs throughout the UK and then internationally,” said Morgan.

“We are in discussions with people in New York, San Francisco and Milan but we need to concentrate on the UK first, with central London our next target location. It’s our ambition to become a well-known brand.”

blochotels.com

Jenny Southan

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