It was in unusual circumstances that I came to stay at one of the World’s Best Airport Hotels*.
Had things gone to plan I should have been sleeping in the sky – half way to Australia. A mechanical fault with my plane, however, meant that after taking off from London Heathrow Terminal 3, I landed in London Heathrow Terminal 5 just 3 hours later.
The airline, British Airways, unsure of how long it would take to fix the plane and aware it was now midnight, very calmly and kindly distributed vouchers to everyone on the full aircraft for meals and accommodation at the Sofitel Heathrow Airport.
Hundreds of us subdued and disappointed passengers skulked into the cavernous foyer and could not have received a better reception. Despite having to come through passport control and collect our luggage in the same city we had set off from, I was grateful to discover we need not leave the terminal building to reach our rooms for the night. An approximately 3 minute walk from baggage reclaim, through a covered walkway, this stylish French oasis was waiting.
The hotel provided a buffet for passengers despite it being nearly 1am because BA had not been able to serve food on the flight and they had (rightly!) assumed we would all be hungry. I have no idea what I ate but remember being extremely grateful food was provided.
In my room I rifled through the luggage I had not expected to open again until I was in Australia and made use of the ‘large for London’ floor space. Falling into the huge welcoming pillows I slept far better than I had expected to on the flight this evening.
The next morning I was up early to find out what was the soonest I could be on a plane out of London. As I showered I caught up on the days news via the TV speakers helpfully installed in the bathroom. Luckily the BA customer service desk was only a 3 minute walk back into the terminal – unfortunately my walk was fruitless as I was told I wouldn’t be flying until 9pm that evening.
Although not ideal to be hanging around in a hotel for 24 hours, especially if, like me, you have a 24 hour journey to Australia ahead of you, if I had to camp somewhere near London Heathrow it would be at the Sofitel. If you are not tempted to spend money in the spa, hair salon, shop or bar the 24-hour gym is complimentary and the recreational areas are more than comfortable for resting.
*The Sofitel Heathrow was named best airport hotel in Europe, and third best airport hotel in the world, at the World Airport Awards in 2011