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Review: the YOTEL Gatwick Airport hotel – what’s it like to stay in a windowless cabin?

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This is my review of the YOTEL hotel 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 ….

Club@YOTEL 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 Club@YOTEL 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 Club@YOTEL:

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

Club@YOTEL 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 aiport 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 aiport 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

You can read our full series of London airport hotel reviews here.

This HfP article tells you how Club@YOTEL, the YOTEL membership scheme, works and what the benefits are if you are planning a stay.


Hotel offers update – February 2023:

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Comments (58)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • CW says:

    Probably worth nothing that you were in a premium cabin. The standard cabins are far far less spacious.

    • The Realist says:

      +1

      I know this is an advertorial but at least check the products you are pushing.

      A random Monday night in July:
      Standard £90
      Premium £124

      • Rob says:

        Ta. I didn’t know it was a Premium cabin to be honest. Pricing doesn’t mean much given that many people only stay a few hours and you also need to compare with the mainstream hotels. £9 per hour is a benchmark.

        • Rob says:

          The price per hour is not fixed though …

          We would need to do literally 400 bookings from Yotel to equal the income we get running a single ad on HFP for a week – it is very unlikely we ever get enough from Yotel to offset Anika’s Gatwick Express ticket to the airport.

      • Rebecca says:

        I’ve stayed there for £69 before so pricing does vary. Something else to note is the M&S food open 24 hours which is about 3 mins walk away so you can get other food from there.
        I tend to use Bloc more than Yotel as the rooms are slightly bigger but they’re both great for a sleep after a late arriving flight or before an early morning one.

  • ChrisC says:

    The AMS and CDG ones are both airside so not really suitable for an overnight stay if you have bags you want / need to check in.

  • PAL says:

    How much for premium and regular cabins Anika.

  • John says:

    How much are the rates normally?

    I tend to stay at the Hilton for early LGW S departures, it’s only 5 minutes away, and which usually costs me around £70 but get a much bigger room than this “cabin”, a light meal in the evening and breakfast with Diamond.

  • Tony Cross says:

    Indeed. I used one of the cheap rooms at Gatwick to grab a shower & do some work. There was enough space – but only just.

    The best way to describe the beds would be very substantial bunk beds. In one room you had the lower bunk and in the next you had the upper bunk. I guess it saves space.

  • Paul W says:

    “A table and chair are stored within the wall storage unit (see below) which also had a TV and four UK sockets” – I can’t see any images in the report.

  • Paul says:

    I’m not sure that the Hampton by HIlton at the North terminal is actually located “inside” the terminal as stated in the article. Isn’t it a distinctly separate building?

    • Rob says:

      I was there three weeks ago and you can walk into reception directly from the check in area.

    • Peter K says:

      I was there last October. It is basically a building attached to the side of the terminal with a very short corridor from the reception of the hotel straight into the North Terminal check-in area.

  • Combat Johnny says:

    I quite like windowless rooms. Im a light sleeper and it means i dont get woken up as soon as the suns up

    • john says:

      How are they for noise from other people?

      • Rebecca says:

        Didn’t hear anything at all, was eerily quiet! I’m a very light sleeper and didn’t wake once.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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