Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Aviator

24 Sep 2008 by Sara Turner

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Owned by TAG Aviation and located on the perimeter of Farnborough airport, Aviator is a sleek, curved building resembling a propellor engine when viewed from above. It opened in July, and is managed by McCulloch Unique Hotels, Ken McCulloch being the founder of the Malmaison brand. The curved interior was designed by Amanda Rosa, McCulloch’s wife, and it feels like entering a private member’s club as you climb the bright white stairs to reception, accompanied by a “meeter and greeter”. Aviator’s corporate business comes mainly from Nokia, RBS, Sony Ericsson and BAe, which all have headquarters in the area. Certainly there is nothing in the town itself quite like this new property, with alternatives 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. By car, the hotel is located on Farnborough Road (A325).

ROOM FACILITIES All rooms are located down the “blades” of the building off the central rotunda, and the in-room décor is slightly more muted than the ultra-modern entrance stairwell, with beige, dark wood and pastels being the predominant colours. All rooms have free wired and wifi internet access, flatscreen TVs with free movies on-demand, air conditioning, Bose surround-sound speakers, Egyptian cotton sheets, tea and coffee-making facilities, minibar, laptop safe, iron and ironing board, hairdryer, and wet room-style bathrooms with walk-in rain shower and Ren toiletries. Sky Studios have baths, TVs in the lounge and bedroom, walk-in wardrobes, floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the runway, and access to the Sky Lounge on the fourth floor.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS The Brasserie features modern European cuisine from head chef Allan Pickett (formerly of Galvin Bistro de Luxe). When I stayed, 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 mains included a delicious Cornish lemon sole in nut-brown butter (£15), and slow-roast old spot pork belly with cider (£14). Breakfast is served here too. The Italian Deli serves an alternative breakfast and snacks, and for runway views there’s the stylish Sky Bar.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The seven meeting rooms are located down one wing of the hotel, with a separate entrance for larger events. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, Bose sound systems and free wifi, and some have terraces. Room capacity is up to 70 people and there is parking for 169 cars. The hotel also has a partnership with Five, a 4,400 sqm events venue inside Farnborough airport.

LEISURE FACILITIES There is a gym on the first floor, as well as two lounges, one with music and one without, for guests to relax in.

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 169 rooms split into four categories, including 69 Aviator rooms overlooking Farnborough Road (27 sqm), 69 Aviator Air rooms (27 sqm) with views of the runway, 12 Aviator Plus rooms (35-40 sqm), and 19 Sky Studios (55 sqm).

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS Free wifi internet access and on-demand films, Bose surround-sound, and modern, comfortable design.

PRICE Aviator rooms cost £195 per night, with Aviator Plus rooms at £215, and the Sky Studios at £295.

CONTACT Aviator, Farnborough Road, Farnborough; tel +44 0870 220 8000; aviatorfarnborough.co.uk. For a report on Farnborough airport, read our article “Future Perfect” in the archive at businesstraveller.com.

VERDICT Stylish and  welcoming with great views across the airport’s runway (Farnborough’s hours of operation are 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 for the corporate market.

By Mark Caswell

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