Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel, London Heathrow – Perfect location and a high standard, yet slightly expensive
General Info and Location
Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel is located at Heathrow Airport, west of London. The hotel is the only one that is directly connected to terminal 5, the terminal which is BA’s primary home at the airport. There are a number of other hotels located near terminal 5, but all require a shuttle bus to get between the terminal and the hotel. This makes Sofitel a very convenient option as you do not have to adapt your schedule to a bus timetable.
When you arrive by air at terminal 5, signs in the arrival hall will direct you to Sofitel. To get to the hotel you take the elevator or stairs up one floor and then follow a long corridor which leads to the hotel. After the corridor, you will first come to a large atrium. There is not much in the atrium other than a car rental company and, oddly enough, a Christmas tree (in September). The atrium, however, is more attractive in the evening when it is illuminated in different colours. To get to the lobby and reception you take the escalator one floor down, this is also where most facilities are located.
If you arrive at one of the other terminals at Heathrow, you can get a free to ride on the Heathrow Express from terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 to Terminal 5. Coming from central London, you have both the London Underground and the Heathrow Express serving terminal 5.
Sofitel is one of the better hotels at Heathrow and this is reflected in the price. The standard is high, the facilities are generally to a good standard, and the staff are courteous and attentive. Subsequently, the hotel is somewhat on the expensive side and is usually on the top end of the list when comparing the prices of the various airport hotels at Heathrow.
The hotel has 605 rooms, including 52 suites. As a Gold member, I was upgraded from a standard room to a slightly larger superior room. Something a bit confusing is that all the room numbers have four digits, e.g. 4302. The strange thing is that the first number does not correlate to the floor number, but instead to the wing where the room is located. It is the second digit which indicates which floor the room is on. This created some confusion, both for me and the man who checked me in who managed to omit the first two digits when he wrote the room number on my key card.
The room was very elegant and had a bright decor with details in brown. The room consisted of a large and extremely comfortable double bed, a work area with desk and chair, an armchair with matching table and footstool, a wardrobe, and a kettle for coffee and tea. There was also a mini-bar with a standard range of drinks.
The bathroom was quite large and had both a bath and a shower as well as a large mirror above the sink. There was also a variety of soaps and bath products.
Eating and Drinking
The hotel has three restaurants and two bars. The three restaurants include a French restaurant, an international restaurant, and a cafe with a tea room (which offers 31 varieties of tea from around the world). I have visited one of the bars a few times before and had a good reason to visit again as I received a voucher for a welcome drink thanks to my Le Club Gold Card. The bar is very charming and has a cosy fireplace, comfortable sofas and armchairs, friendly and courteous staff, and a fairly extensive range of drinks.
Breakfast is served in the restaurant opposite the lobby bar and was also a positive experience. The staff politely greeted me with a “good morning” as I arrived, and as the room filled up I was asked if it was my first visit to the breakfast restaurant. For those who have not eaten here before, a brief review of the different buffet areas and what is available to order is given buy a member of staff.
The breakfast buffet was very extensive with tasty, fresh food, and there was even some Asian dishes available. The fruit section especially appealed to my taste and consisted of, among other things, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and melon.
The hotel has a large conference centre with 45 meeting rooms and capacity for up to 1,300 guests. As the hotel is connected to terminal 5, it is very practical to use the hotel for international conferences as participants can fly in during the morning, attend a conference during the day and then return home in the evening.
Sofitel Heathrow also has a large spa complete with a relaxation room and gym. Sofitel has brought in a professional company to manage the operation of the spa. This clearly has its advantages, but one disadvantage is the fee to visit the spa. You pay nothing extra if you also book a treatment, such as a massage, but an obligatory payment is required for access to the spa.
In the lobby, along with the bar and restaurants, is a gift shop with souvenirs, chocolates and simple foods. If you are looking for a decent grocery store, however, there is a well-stocked Marks & Spencer in the arrivals hall of terminal 5.
Free Wifi is available throughout the hotel, both in the rooms and the public areas. The connection was fine and the speed acceptable. The only thing you have to do to log in is specify your room number and surname.
Service and Status Benefits
The service at reception was very polite and elegant. I was spoken to by name as soon as the opportunity arose and a leather binder was used to store my registration form. The binder certainly provided a touch of class. To stay connected with Sofitel’s French origins, guests were greeted with a “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir”, depending on time of day.
The only downside with the check-in was that the receptionist managed to forget to write the first two digits of my room number on my key card. This created some confusion in that I went to the wrong floor and had to return to reception to find out in which room I would actually be staying in. The male receptionist who made the mistake looked very embarrassed and apologised several times.
With a gold card in Accor Le Club’s bonus program, I was upgraded to a better room category, in this case, a superior room. I also got a voucher for a free welcome drink at the bar, a glass of beer, wine, or a non-alcoholic alternative.
There are several hotels at Heathrow and this is clearly one of the better ones. It is superior in terms of standards, location, services and facilities, although it also has a price tag to match. Compared to other Sofitel hotels I have visited, it is apparent that this is an airport hotel and simply does not provide the more extensive experience you get at a city hotel.