Travelling long haul with children often means early starts and long journeys. Becky was invited to find out if a park and fly hotel can make life a little easier.
Tropical sunshine and white sandy beaches lure many of us away on long haul trips over the winter. However, the reality is often a 2am start and a long drive to the airport with grumpy children. On our recent trip to Mexico, we were invited to stay over in an airport hotel the night before our flight. We arrived at Gatwick the afternoon before, parked in the long-stay car park and checked into the London Gatwick Sofitel, conveniently located at the north terminal at Gatwick Airport.
Our first impressions were very favourable. The Sofitel’s reception ‘atrium’ is sparkly and modern. While we checked in, the kids disappeared to explore (twice whilst signing various bits of paper, I looked up to see one or other of my children going up and down in one of the glass lifts – I pretended they weren’t mine). Check-in was smooth and very efficient and we were soon back in the lift (sensibly this time) on the way to our rooms.
The rooms are very modern, although relatively small, and well decked out with decent flat-screen TVs, immaculate bathrooms and very comfy, squashy beds. The children got twin beds as requested in their own room next to ours with an adjoining door. We dumped our stuff and headed back down in search of alcohol (us, not the children). There is a great business centre and fast WiFi available and with the boys plugged in to laptops and iPhones, we enjoyed a quiet bottle of wine whilst watching the world go by.
Getting peckish, we headed over to check out the restaurants. There is a choice of three different places to eat, all off the main atrium: Gatwick Oriental, serving a varied selection of Far Eastern fare; La Brasserie: a nice, laid back place serving classic French brasserie food, and Le Cafe serving a selection of pizzas/pastas etc. We settled on Le Cafe and our food was really nice. Service was impeccable and fast, and the bill came in at less than £65 for the four of us, which seems pretty reasonable to me.
An early night seemed sensible and we headed upstairs for a comfortable night’s sleep until our alarm call at 7am. Check out was easy and fast (important when you have a flight to catch), and the airport terminal was a short walk down a covered walkway from the hotel. What a bonus!
Would we do it again? Absolutely. Unless you live close to an airport, this really is a great option for a stress-free start to any holiday. It sure beats struggling into the car with suitcases on a frosty morning too!
Rooms at Sofitel, North Terminal, London Gatwick Airport start at £99 + VAT weekdays and £85 + VAT weekends. Park and fly packages with four, eight or 15 days off-site parking are available.
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