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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.


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Comments (58)

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

  • Lesley Palmer says:

    The standard cabin looks tiny – the bed is only 1m wide and there is no space for anything. TBF to Yotel on their own website they do make it clear and provide a plan. Have to say I’d rather sleep in a chair at the airport than in one of these but possibly for the right person the convenience outweighs the sense of sleeping in a coffin.

  • Lumma says:

    “based on Japanese capsule hotels”. The pricing doesn’t seem to be based on them

    • Callum says:

      They also don’t look anything like capsules! The cruise line comparison seems better, though they’re really just tiny hotel rooms.

  • JohnT says:

    For those straying into the “outlands” of Gatwick airport.. remember to sign up for MyGatwick offers, as they have a 30% discount on Yotel at present, plus other offers.

  • Sam Collins says:

    Always been similarly intrigued, will try one day. But thing that caught my eye: 2 curries and a bottle of wine for £11 each. Best value airport dinner? Did you try the curry is my overwhelming question?

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Ten years ago, on a very last minute trip from Scotland to Guyana, my wife used the Yotel in London and found it too noisy with people coming and going all the time in that narrow corridor.

    I suppose it will be OK at some times of the day and not so great at others.

  • Jon says:

    BLOC prices look very similar to YoTel on most given days.
    Both are obviously very convenient given their locations.

    My experience with BLOC was very good. Difference with BLOC: you get a compact (but perfectly normal) hotel room – with a window if you book a Vista room – which costs a whole £5 extra. This has a full KING-size bed and a separate bathroom, plus space for a suitcase or three. YoTel appears to be modeled off a prison cell – and the standard room looks like it wouldn’t even be allowed in a prison – the idea you could fit two people in that which is the max occupancy it suggests, is laughable. Why would you stay at Yotel over BLOC??????

    • Mark says:

      I would agree. I have stayed at the BLOC Gatwick a few times and found it good – even the rooms without windows look far better than this place. I am quite claustrophobic and had no problem staying at the BLOC but I think I would really struggle in this place!

  • 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!

  • 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.

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

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