LONDON — Between the Olympics and a certain queen’s Diamond Jubilee, expect plenty of airport delays here this summer. That could mean napping with the masses in the vast open seating areas of Heathrow.
But here’s a tip. Tucked away in Terminal 4 is a futuristic little place called the Yotel, where for as little as 32 pounds, or $51, for a single, you can grab a few hours of blissful shut-eye and a hot shower in something that looks like a deluxe cabin on a federation starship.
My wife and I flew into London on a long layover after midnight and were leaving for the U.S. in late morning. Heathrow has other hotels in the neighborhood, but the better, closer ones would have been pricey for what would be five hours of sleep at best. And there would be shuttle anxiety: Will it be on time? How long is the ride? Will there be time for breakfast?
The Yotel is in the airport, not near the airport. Your feet are the shuttle. And the train between terminals is a breeze.
Online, I had booked eight hours (the minimum is four) in a premium Yotel unit with a comfy queen-sized bed (78.5 pounds/ $125). Prices for the premium rise $12.70 for each hour over four.
What was good or even great: The large, flat-screen TV, the automated bed, which sits up like a recliner, then deploys flat for sleeping. Curtains that allow a complete, welcome blackout. The pullout-desk and folding chair for using the free, fast Wi-Fi or having a bite from the Food to Go menu. The modern, glassed-in bathroom with the first rain shower I have ever liked. The overall sleek design of the place.
The bad: Space is tight when the bed is deployed, so two people can get tangled. We couldn’t figure out how to work the room lights until we got in bed and saw the control. The automated check-in rejected my American credit card three times before finally ingesting it and spitting it back out with a receipt but no key card. An on-site attendant, called “crew,” solved that quickly.
Despite some vague, far-off rumbling (subway?), the Yotel is amazingly quiet, considering where it is.
All in all, well worth it. There should be a lot more of these.