BACKGROUND: Travelodge is in the process of investing £223 million into increasing and enhancing its portfolio of properties. This includes the opening of 14 new Travelodge hotels this year (12 in the UK, two in Spain) and a £57 million refurbishment programme.
This 400-room Travelodge Gatwick Airport Central opened in 2011 on Povey Cross Road. It completed a £280,000 refurbishment in May – which took one month, and the property stayed open throughout. All rooms have been transformed in line with Travelodge’s new room design, and the hotel’s bar and restaurant area has also been revamped.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? I arrived at the property well after midnight after landing from a late-night flight, and was assisted by a polite member of staff at check-in, who gave me detailed directions to my ground-floor room. These were needed, as it’s quite a sprawling building made up of identical-looking corridors.
The lobby was neat, minimalist and practical – there were a few self-check-in kiosks, four PCs and a printer, vending machines with drinks, snacks and toiletries (these are not provided in the rooms), a water cooler, and a landline phone that automatically connected to a local taxi firm.
WHERE IS IT? A five-minute taxi ride from Gatwick’s South Terminal, 15 minutes from Gatwick North. A hopper bus stops at the hotel every 30 minutes to both terminals (£3 for a one-way ticket) – I took this back to Gatwick South once I’d checked out, and it took about 20 minutes.
ROOM FACILITIES My double room on the ground floor was refurbished with Travelodge’s new design. It was at the back of the hotel, with the window facing grass and tall fir trees.
The room felt fresh and restful – upon a sky blue feature wall was a piece of hazy abstract art, which had a calming effect. The remaining walls were cream, and the carpet was deep blue.
A white king-size bed was at the centre – Travelodge’s new beds are produced by Royal Warrant holders Sleepeeze Ltd, and are topped with a quilted mattress topper and a striped runner with a grey, blue and scarlet palette – reinforcing the new branding. The curtains also have the same pattern.
There were two light switches either side of the bed – one for an individual light, the other for the main light. No plug sockets here, but there was one above the good-sized desk just to the left of the bed, and one directly below the full-length mirror on the wall. Wifi costs £5 per hour, £10 for 24 hours.
Upon the wall facing the bed was a small flatscreen LG TV, mounted on a mid-wooden MDF board. The same material had been used to fashion a high shelf on which towels were place, and beneath it was a short rail with wooden hangers.
I thought this was a clever design – a good way of saving space in place of a bulky wardrobe (especially as most guests will just want to hang one or two items, but won’t bother unpacking at all).
Tea and coffee making facilities were provided, but there was no in-room phone, nor a hairdryer or an iron – the latter two can be borrowed from reception, though. A bar of soap was left in the bathroom – other products can be purchased from reception.
The white walls of the bathroom were made with coated plastic, and there was a walk-in shower, which worked very well. The shower curtain didn’t work as well, and the floor became rather wet – Travelodge has a no-bath mat policy, and the Q&A section of its website reads: “People slipping on bath mats is the cause of the thousands of accidents every year, and we’d prefer you to leave us in one piece! In most bathrooms, the bath surface and the floor have enhanced slip resistance and there are hand rails, so it’s as safe as your bathroom at home (if not safer).”
RESTAURANTS AND BARS After checking in, I headed to the restaurant and bar area, where a handful of guests were sitting with drinks and snacks – presumably they’d also landed late that night.
The newly-designed space was modern and warm, with scarlet walls, light, modern furniture and an open feel. A music channel was playing dance music on a couple of TVs, which won’t be for all tastes, but livened the place up a little.
The bar area was attractive, and manned by a bubbly member of staff. I requested some snacks that weren’t on the hotel’s 24-hour menu: nachos (£4.95) and cheese and bacon potato skins with salad and barbeque sauce (£3.95).
The staff member was accommodating, and insisted she would ask the chef to prepare them anyway. I dined in the restaurant – Travelodge doesn’t provide room service, but allows you to take food back to your room if you wish.
Options on the 24-hour menu were snacks such as pizza, garlic bread and chips. The full menu includes chicken makhani curry (£8.25) and beef burger with chips and salad (£6.95).
The next morning, I returned for the all-you-can-eat breakfast (£7.65), which is served from 5.30am-11am. I arrived a little late, but the full range of options was still available: sausages, bacon (a but undercooked), scrambled eggs (quite rubbery), baked beans, croissants, muffins, toast cereals, tinned fruit and Muller yoghurt. Juices and coffees.
There was something for everyone, but some of the offerings could have been a bit more appealing, and I think it would work better to pay just for the items you want rather than paying over £7 for things you don’t.
MEETING FACILITIES None on site
LEISURE FACILITIES None on site
VERDICT Travelodge has correctly prioritised creating a restful atmosphere with its new design, and while I missed the immediate convenience of a hairdryer, bottled water, and toiletries, I would only have had to ask at reception. I had a very good night’s sleep, and at such a low price, the quality of the new rooms offers great value for money.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 400 – 286 Family rooms, 102 Double rooms, and 12 Accessible rooms.
PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in a Double room in August started from £40.
HIGHLIGHTS The comfortable bed and the helpful, enthusiastic staff.