The Bloc Gatwick opened in April – it is the second property for the brand, which unveiled its first in Birmingham city centre, in 2011. The receptionist told me there are also plans to build an extension to the Gatwick hotel.
WHERE IS IT?
Upstairs (level three) in the airport’s South Terminal – landside, by security, above the Easyjet check-in area in Zone C. Rooms occupy floors five to eight of the hotel.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The funky-looking reception has no doors, instead being open to the airport terminal so anyone can wander in to the foyer. There are usually a couple of members of staff on-hand 24 hours a day to do check-ins, but most people can just check-out on their in-room control panels and head straight to security.
The concept is low-cost, high-tech – in the future, there will be the option to check in automatically with your smartphone. Although rooms are small (starting from 9.5 sqm), unlike the on-site Yotel capsule hotel, which has cabins from 7 sqm that can be booked from four hours, it is primarily for overnight stays. (Day lets are available depending on availability but can’t be booked online in advance.)
There is little in the way of service to speak of – there is no in-room dining or even a phone in the room to call reception (there are public ones in the corridors) – so you are pretty much on your own. There are also public ironing facilities. For an airport hotel this isn’t an issue as anyone staying here is simply doing so because they need a comfy bed for the night and a shower. Little else.
The rooms are very clean, new, modern and well designed, maximising the small amount of space available. Some don’t have windows, while other more costly ones offer views of the runway and parking stands – great for plane spotters. Corner rooms such as 844, 848, 744 and 748 are the best for views. The palette throughout is grey, brown and white, although purple mood lighting (like the Yotel) makes it look more space-age. Key cards are used to access the rooms and various sections of the corridors, through security doors.
Rooms (Sleep, Smart, Apsire, Vista) range from 9.5 sqm to 22 sqm (twin rooms have bunk beds). There’s also a 32 sqm presidential suite. All have free wifi. The seventh floor is the business floor as has the best sound-proofing.
Corridors have a kind of plastic floor covering that makes it easier to wheel suitcase along. My well-proportioned room on level six had a large window facing the runway and airport stands, an open closet with nicely designed fixed metal hangars, a full-length mirror and space for storing suitcases. There was also an entry area with hooks for hanging towels, a bag with a hairdryer in and two plug sockets (plus another two by the bedside table).
The double bed was firm and comfortable, with white Egyptian cotton sheets and two sets of fluffy white towels (bath and hand-size). There were no robes or slippers. Beside the bed was a square shelf with food and drink vouchers, two small bottles of free Evian water, and a built-in Samsung tablet computer that acted as a control panel for the room’s lighting, air conditioning, blinds and check-out. It was very easy to use and intuitive.
The wet room had a frosted glass door and panel down one edge, while inside was a toilet, small square sink with pleasant mandarin and green tea shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and a cube of white soap. There were two showerheads – a high-pressure monsoon rain shower and a power shower.
The sound-proofing was very good in the room – I couldn’t hear any aircraft noise. At the foot of the bed was a Samsung TV set into the wall and, all around, purple mood lighting. It created a lovely calming, cosy atmosphere. By the bed was a white cube-shaped reading lamp.
Without air conditioning, the room quickly got stuffy so I found it necessary to sleep with it on. However, I found there didn’t seem to be a wake-up alarm option on the tablet, which I was surprised about, so set the one on my phone. There was a padded leather wall behind and at the foot of the bed.
I didn’t sleep as well as I’d hoped because of a glimmer of light that continued to emanate from the tablet in the wall – it wouldn’t turn itself completely off. I also missed having the wake-up call option and couldn’t understand why this wasn’t a possible to have in such a high-tech room. The one-touch check-out was easy though.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
Guests receive discounts on food and drink at airport restaurants and cafés (Giraffe, M&S, Apostrophe and Caffe Nero).
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES None
LEISURE FACILITIES None
If you find the Yotel cabins claustrophobic, the Bloc is a much better choice, especially if you get a room with a window. (The views are fantastic.) The Bloc is a superb choice for any business traveller faced with an early morning flight, and enjoys an unbeatable location by airport security. The rooms are well-designed and the free wifi is a plus. In the future there will be more high-tech innovations to look forward to.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? 245 – including one presidential suite.
- ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The free wifi, great use of space, views of the runway, purple mood lighting, easy-to-use bedside control panel, built-in TV, rainshower and location in the airport.
- PRICE Rooms are only bookable for overnight stays (starting from £59) or walk-in “day lets” (£29 upwards) from 7am to 4pm if there is availability.
- CONTACT Bloc Gatwick, South Terminal, Gatwick airport; tel +44 (0)20 3051 0101; blochotels.com