Aerotel is an airport hotel brand run by Hong Kong-based Plaza Premium Group, which also provides lounges, catering and a new airport meet-and-greet service.
The first Aerotel debuted at Singapore Changi in 2016. It has since expanded to Rio de Janeiro, Kuala Lumpur, Cebu in the Philippines, Oman, Abu Dhabi, Guangzhou and the new Beijing Daxing airport. It is set to expand to Sydney this year.
The 82-room London Heathrow location was initially set to open in summer 2018 and signage was put up in Terminal 3, however it remained closed for further works until its eventual launch in October 2019. Bookings are by the hour, with a minimum one hour stay and maximum 24 hours.
Where is it?
Landside (before security) in the Heathrow Terminal 3 Arrivals hall. Aerotel is competing with the Hilton Garden Inn, which is connected to Terminal 3 by an underpass, and the various properties on the nearby Bath Road, outside of the terminal. Still, this is probably the most convenient option if you really want to roll out of bed and onto your flight. It’s also the only hotel to offer rooms by the hour, which will suit those on a short stay.
I arrived on the tube, from which you need to follow the signs to Terminal 3 Arrivals, which feels a bit counter intuitive if you’re used to barrelling towards Departures. The whole walk takes a little under 10 minutes; keep a lookout for the right turn halfway.
Once you’re in the main Arrivals hall, look out for the yellow signs on the roof which say Aerotel, which is next to the Emirates chauffeur service. As well as an easy walk to Terminal 3 departures, you could walk to Terminal 2 or take the train to Terminal 4 or Terminal 5.
What’s it like?
Once you’ve spotted the reception over in the corner, it really stands out and looks quite welcoming, especially given the uninspiring setting of an airport terminal. Up close it looks even better, with tasteful artwork and light fixtures, a grey and taupe colour scheme and some plants. The reception is right next to an exit, so it would be possible to nip out for some ‘fresh air’ (well, as fresh as you can get in a carpark) since once inside you’ll be saying goodbye to natural light.
There were two members of staff at reception when I arrived at 7pm on a Wednesday, and two of us checking in at the same time. The man who greeted me was friendly, although didn’t really explain the layout of the hotel or the facilities. Even after asking, I was bit confused about whether the lounge space was open 24 hours (turns out it is).
There are two floors, and my room was on the ground floor. The lift/stairs area has also been nicely decorated. Out of the glass doors in here I could see the Delta/Virgin wing of Terminal 3 that I’d be departing from the following morning.
The corridors are long and there are lots of heavy doors which presumably are for fire safety and soundproofing. The carpeted floors may make it difficult to wheel more cumbersome luggage. I couldn’t hear any noise from the outside world from here, and when in the room I could only hear the occasional door opening and closing.
The 82 keys are split between 10 sqm singles, 14 sqm doubles and 21 sqm family rooms. As I was staying alone I went for a single. Bracing myself for a windowless box with a bed filling the whole room, I was pleasantly surprised. Sure, it was windowless and the bed did fill most of the room. But the carpet was soft, the lighting was soft and pleasant, everything looked clean and new, and the bathroom was bright and well designed.
I only had a small suitcase, so there was enough space for me for one night given that I didn’t want to unpack anything. There would be enough room for a big suitcase, but with two you’d definitely struggle in a room this size. If you were only using it for a few hours you could probably manage.
Despite the limited space I found the room to be well set-up. There were three hangers on which I could put my coat and some clothes for the morning, a stand for my suitcase and a couple of shelves for smaller items. There were no closed drawers, so there’s less risk of leaving anything behind.
The side table had some tissues, the TV remote and a phone with a clock. Next to this was a thermostat, a bin and a little drinks station with a kettle, Twinings tea (a fruit blend and English breakfast), packets of Nescafe Gold and some milk. There were also two USB charging points and three UK plug sockets next to the bed, and all the lights could be controlled from here.
The bathroom, which was fitted to a high standard, had some glasses, a hairdryer, a toothbrush and toothpaste, plenty of towels, and amenities by Urban Skincare Company (hand wash, body lotion, shampoo and conditioner). In short, it had pretty much everything I could imagine you’d want on a short stay.
As mentioned, soundproofing was good, and it was easy to control the temperature. The bed was comfortable, with crisp white sheets, although the pillows were a bit bigger than I personally like.
There is dimmer mood lighting behind the bed that was quite nice to wind down in. I did notice a green light around the fire alarm on the roof that created a glow during the night. It didn’t bother me, but if you’re a sensitive sleeper it might. The TV turned on every time I entered the room, which felt a bit unnecessary. The wifi was fast and easy to connect to.
Double rooms (see top image) have more floor space and have a small table to work at, while family rooms (below) have two beds and a sofa.
Food and drink
At around 9pm I ventured to the Library Lounge, where a couple of people were having dinner. I had already eaten, but the a la carte menu seemed reasonably priced, with soup for £5, vegan Thai green curry, vegetable lasagne and vegetable noodles for £8, or chicken tikka masala and beef bourguignon for £10.
There were also sandwiches, soft and alcoholic drinks, fruit, crisps and a free coffee machine. A board in the corner showed flight updates, a TV was playing quietly in the other corner, and some excellent reading material was provided (see bottom right…)
A breakfast buffet is served from 6am, although there is an all-day cooked breakfast plate available for £10. The buffet costs £10 and includes pastries, bread, fruit, yoghurt, and hot plates with beans, mushrooms, sausages, bacon and tomatoes. I felt like the buffet could have been improved; the pastries and breads were a bit sad, and since I wasn’t eating meat there wasn’t much else on offer. If I went again I’d choose the a la carte veggie breakfast (£8), bircher muesli (£4) or porridge (£4).
There’s free, fast wifi throughout the hotel, and the Library Lounge would be a good place to work when it’s quiet.
This addition to the Heathrow hotel scene was worth the wait. It’s no full-service hotel, but the rooms are well equipped and there are decent food and drink options.