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Le Meridien Hotel (Gatwick)

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Accommodation Rating: / City: Gatwick

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      06.07.2004 07:01
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      I expect that the usual DooYoo capitalsare omitted in the first few paragraphs. Read on, anyway! Aficionado Extraordinaire, as ? on reflection - I would appear to be, of staying in bizarre hotel locations, I recently found myself at the Le Méridien Hotel, Gatwick Airport. Not, I?m somewhat embarrassed to admit, that I was actually flying anywhere. Nope! It?s just where (for £40 for the room, against a considerably greater rack-rate) the infamous Priceline decided to send us. And when the hotel is as good as this, at that price, I am certainly not one to complain. In fact, the trip turned out to have several advantages. Let me say from the outset, however, that if you actually are flying to or from Gatwick Airport, south of London, this is a superb airport hotel, with only minor faults. There are two hotels on site ? the Gatwick Hilton is located at the South Terminal (and I?ll confess that I have a real soft spot for Hiltons), and this hotel, which is linked via a covered walkway to the North Terminal. As both terminals are linked by a free, very efficient and rapid automated transit system, location is not really an issue. You could be at check-in in either terminal from either hotel within ten minutes. So that?s the background. I was rather embarrassed about my destination, to be honest, given that I wasn?t flying anywhere, and tried to keep it secret from most of my friends! It actually worked out very well, however ? travelling with Josh, who?s now 2 1/2 years old, we found that there were all sorts of things at the airport to keep him entertained and excited. He would also appear to have inherited his father?s interest in aircraft and he was more than happy to sit by the large picture window in the bedroom and watch the ?planes. I?ve never seen him so happily entertained in a hotel room, and happy children make very happy parents. We arrived by car and parked in the hotel?s car park. Special off-site parking deals are ava ilable for long-term stays, but we paid £12 to park overnight just outside the hotel. It wasn?t easy to find a space, but we managed. A short walk brought us to the ground floor entrance and through the automated glass doors, where an escalator leads to the reception area on the first floor, named the ?Podium Floor?. Whether you arrive by car, via the escalator, or from the airport terminal via the covered walkway, you can?t fail to get a bit of a ?Wow!? factor from the atrium that greets you. This is a hotel within a very busy airport, yet here is an oasis of peace and air-conditioned tranquility. The hotel is an eight-storey, clean, white, square superstructure, built around this impressive octagonal atrium. I?m never sure about the architectural economics of atriums (or should that be atria?), but an atrium certainly does it for me every time! But enough about me and my atrium fetish! What?s the atrium got? On your right is the first port of call ? reception. We checked in quickly and efficiently. Rooms face either the airport or the Surrey countryside. Mindful of the fact that an airport view would keep Josh occupied, I requested one, and we were allocated to room 374 on the third floor. This afforded the best of both worlds ? pleasant green views in one direction, and airport activity in the other. It couldn?t have been much better. Of the room, more later! Back in the atrium (sorry!), you?ll find the ?Café Montparnasse? on your left, where you can get a drink and a light meal, and a comfortable (and reasonably priced) bar where you can enjoy a drink and happily people-watch as you sit by the interesting water features in the centre of the atrium. Moving past this, and the self-playing grand piano, brings you to the Gatwick Oriental restaurant ? the hotel?s signature eatery that provides food from a menu created by Ken Hom. There?s another bar on the first floor that has a sports theme ? satellite television brings you the latest l ive action if that?s your thing. Anyway, we took one of the four lifts to the third floor to find our room. If I?ve raved about this hotel so far, it?s time to introduce a small niggle. The atrium was spoilt a little by the existence of scaffolding and building works. No complaints there ? I assume the building work is both essential and very temporary. However, as we walked to our room along the corridor, the paintwork on almost every single room door was in need of maintenance. It?s a small point, but this is a public area and as you walk to your room, this neglect sends out totally the wrong messages. At this stage in the hotel-client relationship, the hotel should still be trying to sell itself as you anticipate what the all-important room will be like and, for the cost of a couple of coats of paint, I was surprised to see this. Fortunately? ? Our room was fine. A corner room, essentially triangular in shape, a short corridor led into the main room, passing adequate wardrobe space on the right. The main room contained a very comfortable, large bed (with duvet), colour TV with a decent selection of channels, minibar, comfortable chair (in the singular) and table, together with decent storage space in drawers. There was also an iron and ironing board, a trouser press (of course!) and a safe. And the picture window with the Josh-entertaining view ? priceless! The bathroom was adequate and, like the room, spotlessly clean. All in all, the room was a comfortable place to spend the evening, although I can?t say that the air-conditioning was terribly efficient. As ever, I popped down to inspect the bar because that?s what you want me to do ? at least, that?s what I always tell Amanda. I enjoyed a beer at a reasonable price, but £8.95 will buy you a decent cocktail and about £4.25 will get you a liqueur coffee. I enjoyed myself, almost de facto - I was in an atrium! We had supper and, indeed, breakfast in the airport terminal ? th e value was more competitive and the quality was fine. After a really good night?s sleep, we checked out efficiently and headed off. Another bizarre location awaited and Josh had a surprise appointment in ?Legoland?. All in all, this hotel comes highly recommended. Were I the General Manager, I?d arrange to slap a few coats of paint on the bedroom doors and get the air-conditioning checked; the temperature in the rooms wasn?t comfortable. Other than that, I?d be pleased with the fabric of the building, the peaceful ambience in the public areas and the friendly nature of my staff. For an airport hotel, this does very well. Andrew PS - For those following Baby Josh?s progress, I offer two transcripts of father-son conversation: Josh: ?Look, Daddy ? there?s a ?plane!? Me: ?Yes ? it?s an Airbus? Josh: ?Silly Daddy ? it?s not a bus; it?s a ?plane!? D?oh! Josh: ?Look, Daddy ? there?s a ?plane!? Me: ?Yes? (learning from previous experience) ?Where d?you think it?s going?? Josh: ?The sky? Obviously! Don?t kids have superb logic? Recommended Yes

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