- You can book a room from just six hours if that's all you need
- Comfortable bedding, and all guests can use the Library Lounge
- While modern in design, rooms are small, basic, and have no windows
- No irons or working desks in the rooms
- You can't beat the hotel's on-site location at Terminal 3
Passengers in transit at London's Heathrow Airport have a new place to relax and recharge, with Aerotel now welcoming guests at the UK's busiest gateway.
It's the most basic proposition for a 'hotel' – don't expect airport views, specious rooms or even an iron to freshen up your shirts – but the Aerotel's on-site location at Terminal 3 can't be beat, and with reservations available from just six hours, many guests will simply check in and grab a much-needed sleep before their next flight.
Location & Impressions
Aerotel is situated in the arrivals area of Heathrow Terminal 3. After clearing passport control and Customs, venture straight ahead.
You'll find the Aerotel reception desk just opposite the Emirates Chauffeur-drive waiting lounge. Stepped outside? You've gone too far.
Passengers who instead arrive in Terminal 4 or Terminal 5 can take the complimentary train across to Terminal 3 where Aerotel is located – just follow the blue "free train transfer" signs, and make sure you board the correct train, as some departures from this area instead run to central London.
To save time, avoid queueing for a free transfer ticket and simply tap a contactless Visa, Mastercard or American Express card on the ticket barrier to get through. A small amount may be temporarily reserved on the card, but journeys between Heathrow terminals are free, so you won't be charged.
Alternatively, passengers arriving into Terminal 2 – The Queen's Terminal, home of Star Alliance – can instead reach Terminal 3 via an internal walkway. If in doubt, follow the signs to the Underground (Tube) until you spot signs pointing towards Terminal 3 arrivals.
Of course, Heathrow doesn't currently have a Terminal 1, making Aerotel accessible to passengers flying through all Heathrow terminals, but most convenient for those using Terminal 3.
Aerotel London Heathrow offers three room types: Solo Plus with a single bed and a sofa, a Family Room with two double beds, and Double Plus as we're reviewing, which pairs a double bed with a small, single-seat table for working and dining.
Despite Aerotel being operated by Plaza Premium – which largely specialises in airport lounges – the beds here make for a long and comfortable rest, being on-par with what you'd expect of a quality chain hotel.
There's both AC and USB power available on each side of the bed atop a bedside table, handy for recharging smartphones or using other devices when you'd like to put your feet up.
Joining that, a house phone, table with basic tea- and coffee-making facilities, and an HDTV. Annoyingly though, it's set to turn on and play advertising every time you enter the room: not much of an issue when your stay is merely to rest and then depart again, but which quickly becomes tiresome when coming and going.
The room is particularly small with very little unused space. There's no closet, but several coat hanging hooks stand ready, as does a full-length mirror near the door with forward-facing lighting.
The bathroom offers a nicely tiled walk-in shower with a fixed glass screen that catches most of the water.
Urban Skincare Co. amenities are stocked including shampoo and body wash, although hair conditioner is absent, and face washers (or flannels, as Brits would say) are unfortunately missing too.
The bathroom sink is basic but gets the job done, with the shelf above stocked with toothbrushes, and the bench below finding drinking glasses. However, the right-hand side of the basin is basically unusable, as with the soap dispenser above it, anything placed here is likely to get wet, or dripped on by the soap.
Each room provides a hair dryer, which is also where you'll find power outlets for razors: just slide the front panel open. Those looking for a proper AC outlet for more power-hungry devices like straighteners though will instead need to plug-in in the room proper, as there isn't an outlet in the bathroom.
Finally, none of the rooms here have windows, despite being positioned against the edge of a building. Again, that's fine when your visit is primarily a quick nap, but does mean there's no natural light available when you want it, without leaving the room.
We're told that the space now used by Aerotel was formerly an office block, which also came without windows, and that as Aerotel sells rooms for as little as six hours per stay, many of its guests simply want to rest and would have otherwise kept the shades closed.
That said, a more practical amenity for business travellers – an iron – is missing here too. In many other hotels where these aren't stocked as standard in the rooms, they can be requested from reception: but at Aerotel, there's simply unavailable. The only alternative is for housekeeping to press your garments, which comes at an extra charge.
Move all the coffee-making gear off the table in your room and you've got a quasi-working surface with power nearby, but it's really better-suited to a few quick emails rather than a longer session: for that, the hotel's Library Lounge is instead a better pick.
The communal space is open to all hotel guests and serves as a one-size-fits-all venue, covering all the bases as a social zone, restaurant, executive lounge and working area.
When there's work to do, the benches along the Library Lounge wall are the best choice. Even though there's no view to enjoy, it's one place where natural light is plentiful through the glass.
Power outlets are available here too, but they line the edge of the bench rather than sitting on the benchtop itself, which makes them somewhat in the way. To avoid manoeuvring around adaptors and cables, it was easiest to plug in at an outlet further along the bench, when the neighbouring seats weren't in use.
WiFi is complimentary but the speeds are pedestrian, hovering around 4.5Mbps for both uploads and downloads. By comparison, Heathrow's own free WiFi network served up downloads of around 52Mbps and uploads of 85Mbps at the same time.
If your wallet sports an AMEX Platinum or Centurion Card, also consider that Plaza Premium's T3 arrivals lounge is just around the corner, which your card unlocks at no extra charge either after arriving on a same-day flight or before departing on an onward flight (or both): great as an alternative working space.
The Library Lounge provides reasonably-priced dining spanning buffet and à la carte options in the mornings, and an all-day menu thereafter.
Everything is on your schedule, so you can order an English Breakfast at any time of the day or night, or something homely or hearty, such as a vegetable lasagne with garlic bread and herb salad (£8), which made for a substantial lunch.
For dessert, there's no overlooking the chocolate truffle (a mere £5), which comes artfully presented with a mixed berry compote. Other more basic options include a cheese board, fruit plate or ice cream.
Bottled drinks and machine-made coffee are also available for purchase, with other outlets within easy walking distance of the hotel in the T3 arrivals area such as M&S Simply Food and Caffe Nero, nearby Boots and WH Smith for any other travel essentials.
As a basic airport hotel designed primarily with transit travellers in mind, you won't find a gym, pool or spa here: but being in the public area of T3, you're always free to catch the Heathrow Express, TfL Rail or Tube into town for any sightseeing.
Aerotel is undoubtedly the most convenient hotel for passengers with a long or even overnight transit at Terminal 3, but for anything longer, a more traditional hotel – with larger rooms, leisure amenities and key features like an iron – certainly becomes more appealing.
Chris Chamberlin stayed as a guest of Aerotel London Heathrow.