It was a bit late when I arrived at Gatwick from Seville last week, so I stayed at the Bloc hotel, which is actually in the airport, in the South Terminal. I had stayed there a few months ago too, when I was getting a very early flight to Menorca. The bloc is no-frills but has everything you need and manages to be quite stylish too. The great kingsize bed with a duvet and good-quality Egyptian cotton sheets is better than in a lot of four-star hotels – I slept really well. It is simple to connect to the free, fast wifi – no fussy log in forms or anything.
There’s no getting away from the fact that rooms are tiny, but of course most guests are arriving late, going to bed and making a swift exit in the morning to catch their flights or continue their journeys. The most basic room category is Sleep and the catch here is that there is no window. Obviously if you suffer from claustrophia this won’t be for you, but when I stayed in one the night before that Menorca flight, it didn’t really bother me as I was arriving and leaving in the dark anyway. If there were two of you with large suitcases it would be a bit of a squash. Vista rooms are the same size but with a window, while Smart rooms have a window and are a bit bigger. I was in a Smart room last week and was really comfortable. Aspire and VIP rooms are larger again and have corner windows. Rates vary, but are usually between £60 and £100, which is really reasonable for an airport hotel – particularly one that isn’t remotely grotty.
There is virtually no noise from the planes landing and taking off, which is a bit of a miracle, although you can hear doors opening and closing in the corridor.
As you pay when you book, check in is really quick and easy. The receptionist just finds your booking, gives you a keycard and explains how things work. You don’t have to fill anything in, sign anything, show your passport or give your credit card again. And the same goes for check out. You just hand your keycard back and that’s it. You can do all this with your phone apparently, and get into your room too, but I haven’t tried that yet.
There’s no minibar or breakfast so there are no extras to pay for. You get free Evian water in the room and there is also a leaflet detailing discounts at cafés and restaurants in the terminal – I got 10% off my breakfast at Caffè Nero opposite the Bloc.
The bathroom is a small wetroom with a square overhead and a handheld shower with soap and shampoo/shower gel. I was there on my own so it didn’t matter about the whole space getting wet but this could be a bit awkward with two of you. It seemed to dry pretty quickly though.
Depending on the room category, you get a couple of hangers on hooks or a few more on a rail – most people are not going to be unpacking – but you can ask for more if you need them. There is a good hairdryer and an ironing area on each floor. Why don’t all hotels have that?
By the bed there are two sockets and a tablet embedded in the wall, which you just touch to switch the lights on and off (there is a normal switch too) and adjust the air conditioning.
I think the Bloc is a great solution for airport stays – anything that makes things simpler when travelling is fine by me.