The Sofitel Heathrow and on Choosing a London Heathrow Airport Hotel

Commenter RJ Brown asks about the Sofitel London Heathrow on my post about flying British Airways from London to San Francisco.

Just changed my return seats to 5E&5F and reserved the cabana based on your notes……

Also decided to overnight in the Sofitel coming back as it appeared the only hotel that allowed a “walk” from room to terminal…..any experience with that property?

I wasn’t going to write up a report on the hotel, but figured that if someone was asking about it, that it might be of interest to others too.

Last month I needed a Heathrow overnight. And though I was arriving and departing from Terminal 3, I chose the Sofitel.

The Sofitel is attached to Terminal 5 and so most convenient for British Airways arrivals and departures. It’s also the nicest Heathrow airport hotel.

There’s a Hilton connected to Terminal 4 which is older but perfectly adequate.

But there’s nothing truly convenient to terminal 3 — you’re look at all of the Bath Road hotels, which aren’t easier to get to than the Sofitel. You take the Hotel Hoppa bus at £4 each way, and it seems to always take a long time.

In fact probably easier than staying at one of the Bath Road hotels is to take the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station where there’s a Hilton that’s connected to the station (commenter Michael also reports that there’s a Hotel Indigo there as well that I believe is around the corner rather than literally connected though others may correct me on this). The Heathrow Express departs every 15 minutes and takes 15-20 minutes of travel time. It’s probably more convenient than the Hotel Hoppa and gets you away from the airport.

I suppose I chose the Sofitel because I was finally curious to experience my free Le Club Accorhotels Platinum status in action. I’ve long suspected that top tier status in the program doesn’t provide much based on its published benefits, but since I’ve posted offers for it so often and not actually used the status I wanted to see it in practice even though it was pricier than other options and I really should have just burned Hilton HHonors points before the devaluation at the end of last month (as it is I wound up with still a few hundred thousand unredeemed HHonors points).

I had a few minutes’ wait to check-in, the hotel lobby seems busy with arrivals and departures much of the time, but otherwise wasn’t a place where people were hanging out.

I had booked the cheapest room which was one queen bed. The terms and conditions (.pdf) say that upgrades are

..in a room category immediately above (to be requested upon arrival at the hotel and subject to availability at the time of Check-in).

So I requested an upgrade and told me it was already taken care of. And indeed it was a one category upgrade from my queen room to a King bed, but otherwise no difference that I could tell (it was even a courtyard facing room).

The hotel is gorgeous, though, and the room perfectly functional with an attractive bathroom.

There was free internet in the room although they warn the free version would be slow and offer to upsell to faster internet. Indeed internet was slow and glitchy, I would lose the connection frequently but didn’t have too much trouble re-connecting when that happened.

Blackout curtains worked well, I slept wonderfully, and was well-rested to leave the property in the morning at 6am.

It’s a lovely airport hotel though in the future I’d only stay there if I was using Heathrow’s terminal 5. Otherwise I’d take a cheaper option at the Hilton for terminal 4 (or burn points), or take Heathrow Express to Paddington Station.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Hilton T4 is often more expensive in my experience. I dislike the isolation of airpOrt hotels, especially at LHR (probably tried 10 different hotels there). I much prefer going to paddington and stayin at the Hilton or hotel indigo. Hotel indigo is a charming botique style hotel. The rooms are slightly small as should be expected from a European hotel. Highly recommended.
    Sure Sofitel is fine and does the work.

  2. My LHR go-to is the Thistle, for its awesome beer terrace 9R/27L position, £50 a night price point, free fast Internet and the lack of feeling I got screwed by a crappy hotel for a lot of money. A taxi to and from the terminals shouldn’t run more than £10, and from T5 the local bus is free. Also, A380s landing outside your breakfast table.

  3. How dare you, John!?!

    Suggesting a better priced, better located and more pleasant experience which isn’t associated with a major loyalty program seems so useful and yet so wrong. 😉

  4. Most of the Bath Road airport hotels are in the Heathrow “free zone” bus route (i.e. the local buses are free). It normally only takes about 10 minutes from the Renaissance Heathrow to the terminal.

  5. The Hotel Indigo is indeed a stone’s throw away from Paddington Station. It’s down half a block on London Road, opposite the gardens. What’s great is if you have sufficient time, Hyde Park is 3 blocks away for a great run, and there are several good restaurants in the area. The rooms are compact, but the showers have great water pressure, and the rooms are quiet. I use the Heathrow Connect at half the price if the timing is right (must buy tickets before boarding) and convenient only from the Central Terminal at half the price.

  6. The hotel indigo is indeed not in Paddington station — But a half block away, with a great pub on the corner, two pubs nearby, and a few more pubs a stone’s throw away (I love English pubs). It’s a great way to get away from Heathrow, And still enjoy London, and it does take about the same time to get to the hotel as it does to stand in line at the hoppabbus and wait for those horrible Shuttles. Check online for 2-1 deals and coupons for heathrow express – rates are usually under $200 or 45k points and the rooms are very nice, fast Internet and quiet

  7. so useful and yet so wrong

    Story of my life, Seth, story of my life 😉

    Seriously, though, few of the LHR chains impress me. Hilton T4 is fine (but food is expensive even for London and even for hotels), Hilton T5 is not actually at T5, the food at the Sofitel is amazing but the hotel is overpriced (and not useful unless you’re flying to/from T5), the Yotel is noisy, and everything else is a bus ride.

    Although, if you do head into Paddington for the Hilton, there’s a pretty good hybrid Chinese-Korean restaurant on Praed Street (or at least there was when I lived in the neighborhood five years ago) called Beijing Seoul. The Paddington Basin branch of Pearl Liang is also a real go-to of mine for awesome dim sum or evening Chinese. And the Sainsbury’s and M&S Food in the station are handy if you don’t fancy forking out.

  8. As a regular to LHR, I’ve chimed in on several blogs about this very issue before (you may have seen my comments). The Sofitel is a very nice hotel — as are most, if not all Sofitels — but overpriced for what it is, which is an airport transfer hotel. If you’re using it for more than a transfer, you should get yourself to the city ASAP! The T4 Hilton is the best hotel attached to LHR in terms of value. Nice rooms, decent prices (which fluctuate, of course, so YMMV), and has a very upbeat atmosphere (I can’t explain that one, I just enjoy it).

    The Bath Road properties can be reached for free on the public buses as someone else commented — no need for the Hotel Hoppa. Most are “okay,” but I remember the Renaissance as a particularly good option. But in this area it’s really about getting the best cash/points deal as the differences are negligible.

    The Paddington Hilton is very nice and can be had for decent values, although it’s booked near-solid most of the time and is usually more expensive than not.

    The Indigo is a risky choice. I had a terrible experience there on an overnight stay (booked on points). The lifts were out and I had to schlepp to the 4th floor (and back) every time I wanted to leave the room. The rooms are tiny (and I had “upgraded” accommodations) and the management, although very friendly, is more family style than professional (i.e., they can’t really do much to rectify problems).

    Granted, the lift issue is a one-off, but even on a stay where they were working, I’d find the room size a turn-off. I could literally touch the bed while sitting on the toilet — I promise. I wouldn’t go so far as to discourage others from staying there, if they don’t mind the tiny rooms, because the location is good and the hotel is otherwise new and pleasant.

    Of course my favorite hotel while I’m actually staying in London is the InterContinental Park Lane. Fantastic in every possible way. I’m not rich enough to be staying at The Connaught and its peers, so those don’t even figure in my comparison!

  9. @ A.S.,

    My stays at the Indigo have been the complete opposite of yours — as a platinum, I always get a room upgrade to a spacious room and free internet (adult included, if that’s your kind of thing) and everything worked perfectly. Sorry your stays were such downers.

  10. @VFTW, If I have a 6am flight leaving LHR, on AA, is it still possible (or even a good idea?) to leave from the Park Lane Hilton to LHR? Never traveled to London before, only heard some horror stories of getting around LHR, so wondering if I should book my last night in London closer to the airport?

    Thanks!

  11. Agree if you’ve time to spare then worth going into the city, but if just on an overnight then I’ve stayed a couple times at the Doubletree LHR. It’s on the Happy route and by no means amazing, but prices generally good (around£50-60 mark) and with free full bbreakfast and a stay credit to retain Diamond it’s not a bad choice!

  12. I am staying at the Doubletree on a 43 British Pounds prepaid rate. It appeared the best value. Just looking for a place to crash for one night. Coming in Terminal 5 and going to Terminal 3.

  13. AAR on Sofitel. Arrived early evening and was looking forward to steam room too. After being told it closed in 40 minutes I made a mad dash to find my trunks and rush to the Spa where I was greeted by that will be 25 pounds for 15 minutes of spa use. Needless to say this will be the last time I frequent this hotel. A bus to the Hilton would have been just fine. But the next morning the Concorde Room and cabana was a real treat especially after running into and chatting it up with the young 91 year old Dr. Henry Kissinger who is still a rock star in my book!

  14. On my way in, and out of LHR depending on flight times, I use Jury’s Hotel. Hatton Cross subway, One stop from Terminals 1,2,3.
    Ask for the quiet flight crew floor.
    Av cost $60 depending on deals.
    Very clean, very good value, and NO overpriced inconvenient dirty HOPPA HELL bus.

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