Heathrow Airport

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.)

Fun, fast facts about London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport, The Beatles depart from Heathrow on their American tour. August 13, 1965.  Courtesy Heathrow Airport

Next time you’ve got some time to spend at London’s Heathrow Airport, take a moment to read some of the commemorative signs the airport posted to mark its 70th birthday in May, 2016.

There are 70 of factoid-filled signs throughout the terminals, marking everything from where the The Beatles were met by screaming fans (repeatedly) in the 1960s to where film scenes were shot and where the Concorde last landed at Heathow in 2003.

You’ll find a list of the contents and locations of all the signs in Terminal 2, Terminal 3, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 on the Heathrow website.

The copy on the signs ranges from cute and corny to cheeky.

In Terminal 2 departures, one sign marks the spot where actor and pilot John Travolta landed his Boeing-707 in 2002. “He had recently completed his flight training. Fact, not pulp fiction,” the sign notes.

In Terminal 4 departures is  the spot from where Muhammad Ali flew, “like a butterfly,”  in 1974 to fight George Foreman in The Rumble in the Jungle.

And in Terminal 3, a sign notes the spots where the opening sequence in the film “Love Actually” was filmed.  “Think of here whenever you feel gloomy,” Heathrow advises..

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Heathrow’s photographer snapped them all

London’s Heathrow Airport is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and digging into the archives for some treasures and special stories.

This is one about “the Godfather of Heathrow” – 84-year-old Dennis Stone – who has been a photographer at the airport for 70 years, starting work at age 14.

Heahtrow Dennis Stone then

Over the years, Stone has snapped it all, including the visits of a dozens of celebrities, including including Frank Sinatra, Goldie Hawn, Princess Diana and the Beatles. Here’s a video about Stone’s time at the airport and some of the great photos he took.

Liz Taylor at Heathrow Airport

Liz Taylor at Heathrow Airport

Clint Eastwood at Heathrow Airport

Clint Eastwood at Heathrow Airport

Heathrow MUHAMMAD ALI

Heathrow - BRAD PITT

Heathrow also has a website set up to gather stories about the airport, with a wide assortment of prizes for the best stories, including trips from London to Sydney, Australia with Qantas.

More free Wi-Fi at London Heathrow

WIFI logo

Last time I visited Heathrow Airport there was a short time limit on the free WiFi. Now it looks like that limit has been broadened to a more useful chunk of time.

According to the Heathrow website those who register to use the Wi-Fi service will get four free Wi-Fi hours.

Want more – and faster – Wi-Fi at Heathrow? Join their Heathrow Rewards shopping program – it’s free – and you’ll get four more free hours.