My review of YOTEL Gatwick Airport – what’s it like to stay in a windowless cabin?

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This is my review of the YOTEL at London Gatwick Airport.

The YOTEL at Gatwick Airport opened about a decade ago and despite it being right inside the South Terminal, we’ve never paid much attention to it.  The idea of sleeping in a windowless tiny cabin seemed a bit odd – though it turned out to not be an issue at all.

YOTEL offered Head for Points a free stay in a Premium room to give it a try and as I had an early morning Vueling flight to Barcelona (that fun story will follow tomorrow), I checked in at the YOTEL Gatwick.

What is YOTEL?

Founded by Yo Sushi creator Simon Woodroffe, YOTEL is based on Japanese capsule hotels.  YOTELs have rather small rooms, called cabins, and are designed for short stays.  You can pay by the hour and stay as little as four hours.

The YOTEL brand consists of two different hotel concepts

  • YOTELAIR – airport hotels
  • YOTEL – city hotels

The YOTEL New York which opened in 2011 was the first city hotel offering small and functional rooms at an affordable price in a central location. With most people spending the majority of time in the city and not the hotel room, this concept does make sense for people who want a particular level of quality but are less concerned about space.

The airport hotels are a similar design but with less communal space.  Most guests will only want to book the rooms to sleep and take a shower.

They have a loyalty scheme – sort of ….

[email protected] is the loyalty scheme for the chain, although it doesn’t offer much in the way of benefits.  Members get 10% off stays at the YOTEL New York, YOTEL Singapore and YOTEL Boston – and that’s it!

You can read more about [email protected] and sign up here.

You can also Virgin Flying Club miles when you stay with YOTEL, as long as you are also a member of [email protected]:

You can find out more about this on the Virgin Atlantic website here.

[email protected] is also a partner with Flying Blue, the Air France / KLM frequent flyer scheme.

My night at YOTEL Gatwick

There is only one other hotel which is closer to the departure gates than the YOTEL and that is the BLOC hotel (which a reader reviewed for us here). The YOTEL is literally a 5 minute walk from the train station and around 7 minutes from airport security.

For clarity, YOTEL Gatwick is landside and not airside.  (BLOC is also landside – there are no airside hotels at any UK airport as far as I know, except for the ‘by the hour’ rooms at No 1 Lounge in Heathrow T3.)  If you are in transit through Gatwick, you will need to clear immigration and, the next day, pass back through security to get to your connecting flight.

YOTEL is in the Gatwick South Terminal which is used mainly by British Airways.  There is a free monorail linking the North and South Terminals so you shouldn’t be put off if your flight is from North.  Trains from London arrive at the South Terminal so you are likely to pass through it irrespective of where you are flying from.

Yotel Gatwick review

As you come out of the station you turn right, walk towards Costa and take the lift down. The YOTEL is next to the Regus Express business centre.

Yotel Gatwick review

Check in

Mission Control, the hotel’s reception, was to the right and as the hotel is very small and there was no one else waiting, check in was super quick.

I was offered a complimentary hot drink and asked if I needed a hairdryer as there were none in the rooms.

If you need anything from a coffee cup to pyjamas or a toothbrush, you can purchase it at Mission Control. You can also pre-order a quick breakfast for £6.95, buy a curry for £4.95 (ready in 15 minutes) or get a bottle of wine for £12.

Yotel Gatwick airport review

The cabin

The cabins are along a hallway and it felt a bit like walking along the cabins on a cruise ship – probably, as I’ve never been on a cruise ….

Yotel Gatwick airport review

The occupied cabins had the curtains closed and the empty ones didn’t which means you could look inside the cabin from the hallway.  I was in Premium cabin number 7:

Yotel hotel gatwick review

The pink light was a bit irritating but it only took me a minute to find the light control centre by the bed.

After I shut the curtains (you just pull them down) I turned the pink light off and the normal light on.  The bed was in sofa-mode by default:

Gatwick airport Yotel review

Next to the bed was the ‘bathroom’.  You could shut the curtains and there was a sliding door which needed to be closed when taking a shower as otherwise the smoke detector might apparently go off.

The shower was larger than average, which you might find surprising given the small size of the cabin overall.  There was a handheld shower head as well as a rainfall shower.

Gatwick airport Yotel review

There was one bottle of combined bodywash and shampoo in the shower.  Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of these ‘2 in 1’ products, it was actually decent.

Yotel Gatwick Airport review

The design of the cabin is very clever I must admit.  A table and chair are stored within the wall storage unit (see below) which also had a TV and four UK sockets.

Yotel Gatwick Airport review

The table could be flipped up and when the bed was in sofa mode there was enough room to sit at the table.

Wifi was complimentary and didn’t need a password.

Yotel Gatwick Airport review

As most guests only stay for a few hours or overnight, there was no proper wardrobe.  There was one lonely hanger for a jacket or a shirt.

There was also some storage underneath the bed which should fit two cabin bags or one regular suitcase.

There was a button to turn the sofa into a full sized double bed.  The mattress was very comfortable and I slept well.

Conclusion

Due to its location inside the airport the YOTEL is a great choice for early morning flights or when landing very late.

I believe the most important things an airport hotel has to offer are a comfortable bed, a good shower and easy access to the airport itself.

The YOTEL Gatwick does tick all three boxes and I can see myself booking a cabin again in the future. The only downside could be storage as with two people and more than two suitcases in the cabin, it could feel a bit cramped.

For stays longer than a few hours, do shop around.  The Hampton by Hilton inside the North Terminal is a ‘proper’ hotel which I reviewed here.  You’re unlikely to beat the YOTEL pricing if all you are doing is passing the time during a long stopover or arriving late for an early flight the next day.

Thanks to the YOTEL team for arranging my stay.  You can find out more, and book, on the YOTEL website here.

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

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Comments

  1. Nick_C says:

    Not sure that a curry is s good idea if you are sharing such a small room!

    Sounds ok for an early morning flight, particularly as you can check in the day before with many airlines.

    The web site says the beds in the premium cabins are queen size.

    Yes the cabins are small, but positively luxurious compared to the flight!

  2. George says:

    I booked a room there years ago when it first opened. I’m not a claustrophobic person, I’ve crawled through damp dark caves and I LOVE riding on trains in small cabins for days on end. But there was something about that room at Yotel and as soon as I walked in I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay. Maybe it’s the fact that it doesn’t have a window. I just couldn’t do it so I went back to the desk and the kind lady gave me back my money even though I had booked a non-refundable rate. I then checked myself in to the Sofitel.

  3. the_real_a says:

    These capsules are perfectly fine for an overnight stay, especially if all you want to do is sleep after or before a long flight. I have used this type of room in ASIA many times and they meet the criteria perfectly, especially if you are paying your own bill. They are more comfortable than ANY first class seat which people on here “gush” over.

    The issue i have is in the UK the price is barely cheaper than the attached or walkable hotels. If you are saving £100 a night compared to a hotel (as i do abroad) then they make a good choice, however when the saving is only £20 then it becomes much more difficult to justify.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Yey try living in Hong Kong like a local 🙂

      That Yotel pad’s floor space would be seen as palatial

  4. the real harry1 says:

    No secret hotels at/ near Gatwick?

  5. Lady London says:

    It’s always worth knowing about hotel opportunities at Gatwick. Not just for late flights, but for the number of times you arrive there late at night and the trains are all ********. Which is not going to stop happening anytime soon.

    I have however got off a European shorthaul flight that is scheduled to arrive approaching midnight many times and discovered that that other people on the flight that I’m chatting with are headed to the Bloc hotel as repeat guests and they happily bound off there while I’ve been left dealing with the chaos that is Gatwick trains late night especially on a Sunday when you need to get back to town.

    If Yotel was priced more sensibly with a distance in price from the other hotels at the location that bore some resemblance to the distance in the facilties they offer from those of the other hotels then I’d be more than happy to book the Yotel one time when I’m arriving back late. Right now if I’m not going to pay for the Bloc hotel or one of the others then I’d be happier sleeping on the floor of the terminal.

  6. Lady London says:

    I suggest Yotel ties up with a couple of the longhaul airlines flying into Gatwick and market a 2-hour £25 flat rate. Enforce it strictly and charge people £40-42 for up to 3 hours.

    This would give the the turnover that would cover their room changeover expenses. The Arrivals Lounge market is not really served at LGW. Also as a holiday airport, they will have well-heeled travellers willing to spend for a little “treat” of an arrivals service after a long flight that includes a shower and a nap. Continental breakfast on a tray optional would probably add to the revenue. Over 3 hours revert to their standard outrageous-minimum pricing.

  7. Yorkieflyer says:

    In addition to the Courtyard which is a short walk to South Terminal it’s also worth mentioning the two onsite Premier Inns at North terminal which are fine for an overnight, one adjacent and one easily walkable, very good advance rates often available

  8. Anne Roberts says:

    Premier inn at Gatwick north is excellent only 5 mins walk and BIG COMFORTABLE beds and a proper bathroom. It is more expensive than Yodle or Bloc but a lot more civilised, it’s a case of “you pays your money and take the choice”!

  9. Derek Broughton says:

    We did the Gatwick yotel some time ago when we flew from Canada to Heathrow/Gatwick to Portugal. We had about 8 hours in Gatwick and had booked a cabin. My wife rarely if ever sleeps on a plane or bus, so had probably been awake over 24 hours when we checked into the Yotel. I can sleep anywhere, but was still tired enough to crash as soon as we got to our cabin. It’s a great idea and we highly recommend it.

    I can’t say I’ve stayed in more than a handful of hotels with a view worth having a window, and certainly not at an airport!

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