We recently took a relatively early morning flight out of Gatwick and decided it was best to drive down the night before and stay at an airport hotel. After a bit of searching, my husband decided on the Arora hotel because they offer a park and fly service, whereby they will keep your car for either 4, 8 or15 nights in their secure car park whilst you are away. As we were away for 15 nights this worked out much cheaper than airport parking or getting a train or a domestic flight which were our other options, so it was an easy decision for us.
The booking was all done online via the hotel website and the price for one nights stay plus 15 nights of secure parking came in at a very reasonable £125.
Although listed as an airport hotel, the Arora hotel is actually in Crawley, near to the town centre. It is still relatively close to the airport - about six miles away - but you should be aware it's not on the doorstep like some of the other airport hotels are. The postcode is RH10 6LW if you're using sat nav to get there.
We arrived at the hotel around 6pm and parked in an underground car park which had a sign saying it was free to park for the first 30 minutes and we would be charged thereafter. We took a note of the parking bay number and headed to the hotel. Other than walking back out of the car park and through the narrow barriers where there is no path with our suitcases, the only way we could find to get into the hotel was via a flight of stairs. I could see no lift and I wasn't best pleased since we had two heavy cases and two items of hand luggage with us. I had to wait at the bottom while my husband carried the cases up, because I simply wouldn't have managed on my own and goodness knows what those who are disabled or have pushchairs are meant to do. If there was a lift - which frankly I presume there must have been somewhere - they need to signpost it more clearly and if there isn't one, there should be, or at least a member of staff around to help those who need it!
Once in the hotel we went up to the main desk to check-in (which opens at 2pm). The desk was well staffed and the hotel lobby had a bright, airy open plan feel to it. The receptionist took some details from us about the car and the flight we were taking and we informed her of the bay number we had parked in. She said we could hand the keys in there and then or keep them for the night and hand them over later if we preferred. We decided just to hand them in straightaway, but in hindsight I wish we'd kept them since it was still relatively early and we ended up sitting around bored for most of the night. My husband was given a form with a telephone number and instructed to call it when we arrived back in the UK after our holiday so that a valet could meet us at the airport with the car.
We were given our key card and directed to our room which was on the ground floor. The lights work by inserting the key card into the light socket, which is all well and good but the curtains were closed when we entered so once the door had slammed behind us I struggled to actually see where the socket was!
My first impression of the room was fairly good and the thing that struck me most was the level of cleanliness. The whole room looked spotless as if we were the first people to ever stay in it and the bathroom especially was gleaming. The view from the room was quite dreary however - it looked out onto a very grey and tired looking building and to be honest I ended up keeping the curtains shut because I didn't want to look at it! I didn't really mind this too much though, as I don't think anyone stays in an airport hotel for the view!
We had a double room and the bed was very comfortable with the duvet being warm without being too stuffy. Three pillows were provided and although we both usually sleep with two each, they were so thick that only one each was required.
The room also featured generous wardrobe space, a luggage rack, a large desk which folded out to give extra room, flat screen TV with all freeview channels, kettle (which again was completely spotless inside, not a hint of lime scale - I make a point of checking hotel kettles before use!), a selection of tea and coffee, a hairdryer, iron and ironing board and a trouser press. A small selection of Gilchrist and Soames toiletries were provided - a bubble bath, shampoo, soap and shower cap. The bathroom featured a bath and separate shower, although I found the shower cubicle fairly small and claustrophobic so ended up using the bath, which also had a shower attachment.
Free wifi is available and we were given details on how to access it when we checked in. Annoyingly you are only allowed to connect one device to the wifi for free and since most people have smart phones these days I found that rather inconvenient.
Although the hotel has a restaurant, we decided to order room service - something we wouldn't normally do as it tends to be so expensive, but we thought we'd get our holiday started early! We both ordered an Aberdeen Angus burger which arrived served with chips and my husband ordered a bottle of coke, which cost £3 and was absolutely tiny! I should also add that we struggled to find the bottle opener and looked everywhere, before finally finding it on the bathroom wall, which wasn't the most obvious place for them to put it! The food was nice enough although the bill came to just under £40 which I think was pretty excessive for what we got.
As mentioned, the hotel does have a restaurant and also a gym as well as salon and spa, but as we did not use these facilities I cannot comment any further on them.
We checked out the next morning and were able to take a bus straight from the front of the hotel to the airport at a cost of £3 each. Check out is at 10am. I should warn that the bus to the airport is quite slow and stops at several other hotels as well as going around a business park, so bear this in mind when deciding what time to leave.
When we arrived back in Gatwick following our holiday, my husband called the number we were given once we got into the baggage hall and we were directed to the short stay car park. The guy on the phone gave clear directions on where to meet him and we only waited a couple of minutes before he turned up with the car. Remember to keep the piece of paper you were given by check-in, as you will need to show this to the valet to prove it's your car and he asks you to sign for it as well.
Overall, I was very pleased with my stay at the Arora and we would definitely consider staying there if we were taking another flight out of Gatwick. The car parking service was invaluable for us and our main reason for choosing the hotel, but I was impressed with the cleanliness and comfort of the room as well as the friendliness of the staff too, so it's definitely a five star recommendation from me.
I was looking for a weekend away; it's been a busy week at work, and it was the weekend before my birthday. A change of scene was needed, so I delved into the Priceline website searching for anywhere - and I mean anywhere - that would provide a change of scene. Quite what possessed me, after several failed searches, to select "London Airport Hotels - Gatwick", I don't know, but I did. Before you could say "Now I don't believe you wanted to do that", I found myself booked into the Arora International hotel, Gatwick airport. I suppose I'd gone for the Gatwick option, knowing that there are actually some really nice hotels in the area (Le Méridien, Hilton, a couple of Copthornes, to name a few), yet this hotel was a new one on me. Still - £50 for a room for two (and baby Josh) in a four star hotel is not bad value (and a great saving on the rack-rate), and I'm prepared to try anything once. Without letting too many cats out of the proverbial bag, I have to say that I'd actually happily try this place more than once. That, at any rate, explains why, yet again, I'm writing about an airport hotel in what is, let's face it, far from being an ideal holiday destination. Thanks, Priceline! This hotel faces stiff competition in several ways. Whilst Le Méridien and the Hilton are both on site at the terminals and offer incredibly easy access to your departing or arriving flights - as well as all the facilities that the airport has to offer - this hotel is actually situated in Crawley, which is about four miles from the airport. It's situated right next to Crawley rail station, two stops and a £2.20 single (£2.90 return) ten-minute train ride from the airport, but it has already lost out in terms of convenience. So it's going to have to really stand on its own two feet if it's going to compete, and the only way I can see it doing so is on price. Enter Priceline - you can clearly get good deals he
re. But then, the same is true at the terminal hotels. We arrived late in the afternoon and experienced some difficulties finding the place. Not major ones, but it's not as straightforward as, say, Le Méridien. It's right next to Crawley station, so is easy if arriving by train - and even has private access from the railway platform. Arriving by car required a little more guile, but we got there. Eventually. We parked the car in the spacious underground car park and headed up the stairs to reception. The hotel is newly built and whilst there have been attempts to jazz up the architecture, it's still fairly bland, although water sculptures and fountains are pleasing to the eye. Step through the automated fake-revolving door, and you're in the front lobby. In front of you are three glass lifts. To your right is a shop selling all the sorts of things you wouldn't expect to find in a hotel (especially foodstuffs that might reduce the risk of relying on room service when the hunger pangs strike), and on your left is reception. We checked in quickly and efficiently; there was no queue, and the receptionist was helpful and friendly, issuing a keycard for the room and an instruction sheet on how to best enjoy the hotel. Slightly unusual, as was the absence of welcome literature in our room. Behind the lifts and reception area is a large atrium area (oh, bliss!), with a bar, deli and Starbucks, all decorated in a mixture of whites and warm beige colours with interesting furniture, such as chairs sculpted into the shape of a human hand. The lifts are enclosed in glass and, en route to the first floor, we could watch the quiet activity in the atrium below us. I think it's a five storey hotel; our journey aloft stopped at the first floor and we were delivered very close to our room, number 152. I'd been led to believe that this was a hotel with American-sized rooms, but wasn't particularly stricke
n by the amount of space. Go to Brussels if you want space - but it was certainly adequate and definitely not cramped. The usual design was in order - entry hall, with bathroom on the right, leading to the inner sanctum, dominated by what proved to be a supremely comfortable large double bed. In the entry hall, is a slot into which you insert your key card. This activates the lights. I've encountered this system before and I think it's quite a good idea - unless (as was the case tonight) they only give you one key card. If one of you (guess who) gets the urge to pay a visit to the bar, the person remaining in the room must sit in darkness. "You could always knock on the door and let Amanda use the lights" I hear you say. True. However, hotel security is such that you can only ascend in the lifts if you first swipe your key card in a slot. In other words, if anybody is not in the room, a key card is required. Amanda was actually happy to sit with the lights off and the TV on - it helped to get baby Josh to sleep - but the arrangement wasn't ideal. I guess that a second card could have been requested, but why should we have had to? Minor niggle - and I've only got two about this hotel! The room was decorated in warm beige colours and the bed had a striking blue duvet on it. It proved to be extraordinarily comfortable and the pillows were to die for. Complemented by very effective black-out curtains, a good night's sleep was eventually had by all. There was plenty of storage space, an interactive TV with a decent selection of channels and a comfortable armchair and table. Again, why there was only one chair in a double room is beyond me, but hoteliers can be a strange breed! I was a little surprised by the lack of the usual hotel welcome guide in the room. I put this down to the fact that there's nothing to do in Crawley. I may be wrong. What nearly surprised me even more - even to heart-attack l
evels - was the lack of a trouser press. But there it was, nestling in a little cupboard, along with an iron, ironing board and tea / coffee making facilities - except that the kettle didn't actually work - the other minor niggle, which was only discovered the next morning. The bathroom was superb and, like the room itself, was spotlessly clean. The bath was spacious and comfortable and there was a stand-alone power shower. Decorated with granite-effect furnishings and clean white tiles, one wall was adorned with a huge mirror that, miraculously, didn't steam up either when the bath or the shower was used. Toiletries were of a good standard, too. All in all, the accommodation was of a very high standard, even if the view from the window was (as you might expect) nothing to write home about. As the climax of the Holland / Sweden quarter-final of the Euro 2004 football tournament approached, I felt the urge to complete my duties as reviewer and make a trip to the bar. There are two, as it happens. The atrium bar is peaceful and geared up more to serving cocktails and shorts. Finding myself more in rowdy football-watching mood, I was drawn to "Morgan's Pub" - a friendly place to enjoy a few beers and watch Sweden get knocked out of the tournament on a large screen projector TV. My first beer was bought during a late "Happy Hour" and was ridiculously cheap. The second was at normal price and still didn't break the bank. I returned to the room and enjoyed a thoroughly pleasant sleep - the bed really was comfortable. We needed a reasonably early getaway, and booked a wake-up call through the TV. It worked and it wasn't long before we were on our way. Check-out was a breeze and the staff were very friendly. I handed my car park ticket over for validation and was charged £5. I was told that the car park barrier was actually out of order, however, and that I could simply drive
out of the car park. Well if I'd known that..... "At least you won't be leaving with a guilty conscience" said Sarah, the smiling receptionist. "You watch me", I said, as I called across the reception to Amanda, checking that she'd packed the hotel's fluffy bathrobe into the suitcase. This hotel does not provide fluffy bathrobes. Honest! My conscience is clear. Andrew Recommended Yes