Things you never knew … stay at the Thistle Heathrow and take a driverless pod to T5!

Here is one of those odd little facts which may have passed you by …..!  I was reminded of it when writing my article on the Thistle Hotels ‘Signature’ loyalty scheme on Wednesday.

The biggest downside of staying at one of the hotels at Heathrow which is NOT directly connected to the airport is the slow and painful process of getting to or from the airport.  The local Heathrow buses are free (this article explains which ones to take) but you need to get to the relevant bus stop and know where to get off.  This is tricky enough before you start to consider carrying your luggage.

The Hotel Hoppa bus service picks up directly from outside the terminals and drops you directly at the hotels.  However, the journey can be slow because each bus stops at a number of different hotels on its route.  It also costs a rip-off £5 per person each way.

If you stay at the Thistle Hotel at Heathrow, there is a third option.

The Thistle is situated next to the Heathrow car park from where the driverless pods take you to and from Terminal 5.  You may have seen them going into the terminal as your taxi drives up the approach road.  They look like this:

Heathrow pods

The Thistle has done a deal with Heathrow Airport to allow its customers to use the pods.  This being Heathrow, it is not a free service – you are charged £5 per person, each way.  Whilst the price is the same, it should be SUBSTANTIALLY quicker than taking the Hotel Hoppa bus and I imagine that it is substantially more fun!

You can find out more about this service on the Thistle Heathrow website here.  You can book the Thistle Heathrow from £53 per night in the current Thistle sale (click here) – book by January 14th for stays until the end of June.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

IHG Rewards Club 'flash sale' returns on Friday 16th for 48 hours
A nice little competition starts on Monday 19th - potentially worth £4,000+!
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. I thought it was free lhr-thistle. And the £5 charge was to get from hotel-lhr. They couldn’t really charge you for arriving because how would they even know you had got there via pod?
    Biggest problem with this hotel is it overbooks itsself . I ended up with a twin room twice after booking a double. Service is terrible. Much better off staying in the premier in bath road. Use purple parking business to park and they will get you to the airport and back.

  2. Antonio says:

    I’ve used those pods for free plenty of times, just for fun when I’ve had some time to kill at Heathrow before check in. Do they charge you upon entry to the car park?

    • No there is a gate to the hotel at the far right hand side of the business parking.

  3. Waribai says:

    So, can you actually use them for free?

    • Pods are free but you cannot get through the secured gate to the hotel without paying £5 pp

  4. Cheshire Pete says:

    I’ve used this and they are fun and quick!

    Glad I’m not a family of 4 though. £40 for a return journey seems a typical rip off Britain daylight robbery.

  5. Jonathan says:

    We stayed (and left the car) there in August, but balked at the £20 extra to use the pods. The free local bus goes from outside the hotel, so we used that instead!

  6. I’ve used the Pods. They are very easy to use and take you straight into the terminal. I’ll be checking the Thistle hotel prices in future to combine with it though now.

  7. Scandalous that they charge £5. I would rather take the bus especially with a family of 4. There is effectively now a charge to access the airport on top of the huge airport fees they charge to stand in line at security. The Valet parking operators now have to add £6 to every booking to cover an access fee.
    So you have the worlds most inefficient and probably worst International airline hub accessible by the worlds most expensive train journey ( more expensive per mile than flying First Class) or the worlds most expensive and inefficient hotel bus service. Parking is the most expensive of any UK airport and there is an access fee to limit competition.

    Remind why we don’t need a new hub airport?

  8. Pods are great, and journey time is 5 minutes from T5 to hotel/car park, you are within the airport grounds for the journey with planes flying over you. You buzz the Hotel staff at the gate using an intercom and then pay at reception (if they remember). When checking out you pay for the return journey and are issued with a code for the gate. For time, cost and fun it wins for me. The hotel rooms are very old fashioned but ok for a night.

  9. i was scheduled tostay with a parking and stay option but decided not to stay as got an earlier flight in. the hotel claims lhr charge them the £5 so that’s why they have to charge you. I think it’s expensive too, but priced right given the ridiculous hoppa charge. If you’re not in a rush/time it right the 423 goes to t5 from outside the hotel every 30 mins and that’s free

  10. I’d just catch an Uber if there’s 2 or more of you, it’ll be minimum fare + parking, driver will enter the terminal and help with your bags. I’m sure there’s a HfP promo code, so it’ll be free for first time users!

  11. What's the Point says:

    Offer on my Gold Amex today (plus other hotel chains, inc Hilton)

    Spend £100 or more, get £50
    Save to Card to get a £50 statement credit when spending £100 or more when you pay and stay at UK Thistle and Guoman Hotels by 12/04/15. Valid once per Card. Terms apply.
    Please read the Offer Terms

    • I see the same Amex offer. I’m looking for book to stay in June but assume that if I get a prepaid rate then it is going to count? Anyone know whether Thistle do actually take payment at time of booking? Assume that if I add parking to the booking the money will be taken at the same time?

      Just also wondered, whats stopping you getting the pod for free on return from LHR, walking out of the main entrance and walking round to the Thistle to collect the car (and vice versa the other way round)? Surely cant take more than a few extra minutes and saves a tenner for a couple!

      • Ok having looked at the map I can that is more than a few minutes walk as cars have to go South and exit of the Thistle is North and a very circuitous route in between!

        Still very interested whether the prebooking of an advance rate with an add on of 15 days parking will all be charged at once?!

      • Yes the Hilton spend £250 get £50 back offer is on again, although still only UK hotels so unlikely to be able to make use of it this time around 🙁

  12. Don’t forget the Hoppa bus is free for children too, so factor that in