airport hotels

Harriet’s Hotel Stay: Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

As an airport aficionado, I’m a big fan of hotels that are right in or right at-the-airport. So, when heading to London recently for a business event taking place near Heathrow Airport, my first thought was to stay at the Hilton London Heathrow Airport (connected to Terminal 4) or the Sofitel London Heathrow (at Terminal 5).

I’ve stayed at both hotels in the past and adore the convenience, but no favorable rates could be found, so this trip I decided to give the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 a try.

Except for a bit of transportation inconvenience (more details below) I see why this hotel is especially popular with business travelers and why it gets so many repeat visitors.

The Welcome:  Arriving worn and weary well before official check-in time, I was expecting nothing more than a place to store my bags. Instead, check-in was a breeze, I was given helpful “what’s where” information, and I was in my room within 5 minutes.

The room:  I didn’t tour all room types, but my room had a super comfortable Hilton bed, complimentary Wi-Fi (no password hassles), a large flat screen TV, a speaker in the bathroom and both UK and International power plugs at the roomy desk.  There was even a cookie with the coffee and tea set-up.

Executive lounge privileges came with this room and I stopped by one morning for the complimentary breakfast and both evenings of my stay for the complimentary evening cocktails and canapes.

Hotel dining and amenities: In addition to a 24-hour fitness center, this hotel has a spa area with a don’t-forget-your-swimsuit hydrotherapy pool. For dining, there are two bars, a lobby coffee shop, and the Gallery Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This Hilton hotel also has a surprise hidden treasure: Mr. Todiwala’s Kitchen. Closed Sundays, I missed my chance to eat there, but now that I know its reputation and uniqueness (as a hotel restaurant, but also for London), I will make an extra effort to go back. Chef Cyrus Todiwala has an award-winning restaurant – Café Spice Namaste – in London proper and many of the signature dishes from that menu are offered at his popular restaurant at this Hilton, which draws locals and out-of-towners alike.

Getting there: Except for the hotels inside the airport, getting to any of the hotels near Heathrow can be confusing and time consuming. This is not one of the Heathrow-area hotels accessible by a free local bus, so an Uber or the Hoppa Bus (buy tickets in the terminal before you board to save a pound each way) is the best way to get back and forth from the airport. Call or email the hotel ahead of time for  instructions and study the Hoppa timetable so, like me, you don’t dawdle and miss the bus by two minutes on a cold night and have to hang around at the bus stop for an extra half hour.

(I received a discounted media rate for my stay the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5; opinions are my own.)

Stuck at CDG? YotelAir might be an option

Beside the great name, the Yotel concept is pretty clever: small, hip, ship-cabin inspired hotel rooms bookable for short stays at airports.

There are Yotels in London at both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, and one in Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

There’s also non-airport Yotel in New York City and a few more in-city Yotels planned, including in Boston and Singapore.

I’ve stayed at the Heathrow Yotel when it first opened and more than once at the in-city Yotel in New York City.

With the November opening of a Yotel post-security at Charles de Gaulle airport – in the Terminal 2E transit lounge area known as ‘Instant Paris’ – Yotel has rebranded their airport properties as YotelAir (makes sense) and added some fresh new amenities.

In addition to the amenities inside the rooms -space-saving adjustable beds, bathrooms with monsoon rain showers, mood lighting, Wi-Fi and HD TVs, in the hotel’s public area there’s a vending wall for drinks, snacks and travel essentials and a lounge with complimentary hot drinks.

Rates: “Premium” cabins – for two- are currently  €75 ($80) for 4 hours or from €115 (about $122) for an overnight stay. Family cabins – for four – are €95 (about $101) for 4 hours or  €135 (about $145) for overnight.  For those who just need a pre-or-post flight ‘Wash and Go,’ there are Shower Cabins that rent for €15 ($16) for 45 minutes.

I’ll be visiting and, hopefully, staying at this new Yotel in early February, so will share a full report then.



How to find day rates at airport hotels

sleeping on airplanes

In working on a story for about hotel booking sites trying to stand out by offering a twist – including Winston Club, which plans to match people up to share top hotel rooms – I discovered a good resource for travelers who find themselves stuck at the airport. is a site that helps travelers find good rates for short stays at hotels during the day.

These aren’t the, ahem, one-hour or less kind of stays. The service offers stays of at least four hours in three-, four- and five-star hotels, enabling a traveler to rest and refresh before or after a long flight, get some work done in a quiet and comfortable space between meetings or, perhaps, for a family to have a “daycation” at a hotel with a pool, waterpark and spa.

The site has a search option for airport hotels and on that list you’ll find the Miami International Airport Hotel (located inside the terminal) – offered during my search for $55 for a four hour stay between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. – and the post-security Minute Suites – DFW, offered at $100 for a four hour block between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m., $110 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and $120 between 3 a.m. and 7 p.m.

I called to check and compare walk-in rates as was told there is not a posted rate at the DFW Minute Suites for a 4 hour stay, but that, with taxes, a 3.5 hour stay would cost about $134 and a 5 hour stay, $148. So the HotelsbyDay rate does indeed offer some savings.

Yotel’s YobotSanta giving out gifts


If you’ve ever spent a few hours at a Yotel in Heathrow, Gatwick or Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, then you know these short stay hotels with compact rooms are a blessing for those who need to nap and recharge after a long flight or be at the gate really, really early in the morning.

There’s an off-airport Yotel in New York City that still has compact rooms, but it operates more like a ‘regular’ hotel, with full day rates, a restaurant and a place in the lobby to store luggage.

But luggage storage is unusual in that there’s a giant robotic arm – called the Yobot – that puts luggage in a lobby vault and retrieves it when asked.

Yotel is turning the Yobot into YobotSanta this season: the Yobot may bring guests staying at the Yotel New York a gift from the vault before storing their luggage – and YobotSanta is also giving away gifts online.

You can choose a virtual YOBOT bin each day for a chance to win a range of travel surprises, such as round-trip travel certificates on JetBlue, two-night Yotel stays in New York and luggage and travel accessories from Flight 001.

Go play here

Denver Airport’s new Westin hotel


I was a lucky reporter and got to stay at the Denver International Airport’s new Westin hotel on opening night.

I skipped the parties, choosing instead to work and enjoy the views of the mountains from my room and put together this story for CNBC.

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

Courtesy Denver Westin International Airport

Chicago O’Hare International Airport has one, and so does Detroit Metropolitan Airport and Orlando International Airport. There are also two at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, while Frankfurt Airport has three.

Now, Denver Airport has an on-site hotel too.

The 519-room Westin at Denver International Airport is open for business, with the city now joining the ranks of travel hubs that can send travelers to their destinations, or put them up for the night in style.

The city- and county-owned airport spent at least $580 million to build the hotel (Denver owns it, while Westin manages it), an adjacent public plaza and a commuter rail station that will begin operation in April.

The swooping, sleek Gensler-designed Westin is adjacent to the city’s iconic tented main terminal, which sits 25 miles from the city center. The hotel walls are all glass, and the top-story pool and fitness center offer views of the Rocky Mountains. There’s public art inside and out, a conference center, and welcoming places to eat or have a drink. At some point, an airport security checkpoint with 20 lanes will open in the building.

Westin pool

While the Denver Westin will certainly offer a convenient landing spot for business and leisure travelers, airport and city officials are confident it will be much more than that.

In fact, they’re banking on it.

These new amenities “are the first steps toward leveraging [the airport] as an economic powerhouse that will create tens of thousands of new jobs and bring more business opportunity to Metro Denver,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said at the ribbon-cutting for the hotel’s opening.

Cities across the nation are moving to take advantage of the movement to transform airports into makeshift resorts. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $4 billion plan announced earlier this year for LaGuardia Airport contains an option to create a hotel.

Cuomo also announced that the empty Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport would be transformed into the $250 million TWA Flight Center Hotel.

Hancock told CNBC that when he joins airport officials at international marketing events “we hear that international passengers expect a quality hotel and a train connection to downtown” at the airport. “Having these things helps us compete as an airport and as a city on an international scale,” he said.

There’s another upside to having this high-profile hotel on airport property.

“Right out of the box this is going to generate money for us — nonaeronautical revenue. We estimate a million to 2 million a year starting next year,” said the airport’s CEO, Kim Day. “That helps keep the costs to air carriers low and incentivizes them to add more flights.”

A hotel (and a train station) were included in the original plans for the airport, which opened in 1995. But, over the years, attempts at getting the hotel project going were repeatedly thwarted. First, it was the downturn in air traffic after 9/11. Later, it was the economic recession, Day told CNBC.

While he’s looking forward to spending a night at what he describes as “one of the most interesting-looking hotels I’ve seen in a long time,” business travel expert Joe Brancatelli keeps wondering why it took the airport so long to make the hotel happen.

“Does Denver airport need a quality hotel? Of course it does,” said Brancatelli. “Will this one change the competitive balance of airports around the country? Absolutely not. The big win here that an important airport with a relatively large number of international flights finally has a hotel.”