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Review of the impressive, brand new Crowne Plaza at Heathrow Terminal 4

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This is my review of the brand new Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel.

The Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 has just opened.  It shares a building with the Holiday Inn Express London Heathrow Terminal 4 and represents a chunky £80m investment by Arora Group, which also own the Sofitel Heathrow Terminal 5 amongst other properties.

To put the hotel in context, at almost 700 rooms across both brands it is the largest hotel to open in the UK this year and the largest IHG hotel opening anywhere in Europe this year.

IHG offered me a free night to take a look.  As you will see tomorrow I also got a tour of the Holiday Inn Express part of the building, although I did not stay there.

‘Two in one’ hotels are becoming more common

‘Two in one’ hotels, where one building contains two properties owned by the same group, are becoming more prevalent.  IHG has another opening at Heathrow in January, when a joint Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn opens on Bath Road.  There is logic to it – you can justify a bigger building on scarce airport land, and there are cost savings to be had behind the scenes.

What varies from development to development is how closely the hotels are integrated.  At Westfield Stratford, for example, a Holiday Inn (reviewed here) and Staybridge Suites share the same building but do not share facilities.  In contrast, this new Terminal 4 development is the most integrated I have ever seen – only time will tell if the Crowne Plaza suffers because of this, because you can pay £35 less for a Holiday Inn Express bed and still use the same restaurant and bar, plus get free breakfast.  I’m getting ahead of myself though ….

Getting there

You access the hotel via the Departures level at Heathrow Terminal 4.  (Don’t go to Arrivals if arriving by tube or train.)  If you have ever stayed at the Hilton Terminal 4 (review) or Premier Inn Terminal 4 (review) you will know the gangway that leads from the terminal to the hotels.

If you taking the tube from Central London, make sure you get a Terminal 4 train and not a Terminal 5 one.  If you take the Heathrow Express, you need to change at Terminal 2/3 for the TFL Rail train to Terminal 4.  Alternatively, get the TFL Rail (ex Heathrow Connect) service from Paddington in the first place.

Getting to Terminal 5 is a bit messy, unfortunately – it is also a quite a distance if you look at a map.  You need to take the train or tube via Terminals 2/3.  Other options are the Hotel Hoppa bus or bus number 482 or 490 from bus stop 7 (free service).  The hotel can also order you a taxi.

The Crowne Plaza Terminal 4 is the first hotel on the gangway.  You save a couple of minutes compared to walking to the Hilton or Premier Inn.

Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4

My room 

One benefit of having a Holiday Inn Express in the same building is that the Crowne Plaza has had to invest in impressive rooms to stop guests trading down.  As you can see, they are very classy:

crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 room review

There are not huge, however, and there isn’t a lot of difference in terms of space between the two hotels.  The little things are all there – individual reading lights, USB sockets by the bed, a variety of pillow types, a robe in the wardrobe etc.

The standard rooms only sleep two people.  For a family, I would recommend a suite which is about 75% more expensive than a room but has a capacity of four people, as long as two are children under 12.

crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 bed review

The room came with a fruit bowl and a small box of chocolates.

There was no coffee machine in the standard rooms, which is a shame as it would have been a good way of creating more differentiation with the Holiday Inn Express.  However, if you book a ‘Business’ room for an extra £20 or so then it appears that you do get a Nespresso machine and a Bluetooth speaker system.

In a standard room you get a kettle, two packets of biscuits (yeah!), tea, coffee and two free bottles of water.

review crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 room amenities

If you need to work, this is where the Crowne Plaza scores over the Holiday Inn Express with a good sized desk complete with power sockets and a decent light.  Wi-fi was free and of excellent quality, as you’d expect from a new build hotel.

review crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 desk

The bathroom had some snazzy silver tiling.  There was only one sink.  Toiletries were the standard Crowne Plaza ‘this works’ brand which I find fine.

crowne plaza heathrow t4 sink

You get a big shower – wider than the picture shows – with a choice of rainfall or traditional water jets.

It goes without saying that soundproofing is EXCELLENT.  I did not hear any aircraft noise at all.  In terms of views, some rooms – including mine – directly face the Hilton Terminal 4 across the road (which is quite an impressive bit of architecture by airport hotel standards) whilst others face towards the terminal.  Some also face inwards over the atrium.

Let me show you how it looks inside.  The hotel is rhombus shaped.  Whilst both the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express have their own check-in areas and receptions, they share the lift bank.  Not only that, but each floor has a mix of Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express rooms.  You walk out of the lifts and turn one way for the CP and the other way for the Holiday Inn Express.

This is a view from the 4th floor, where I was, looking down on the Crowne Plaza lobby cafe which has a surprisingly good cake selection!

view of interior crowne plaza heathrow t4

Here is a cafe shot from the ground floor:

review crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 cafe

Below is the bar.  This is an interesting arrangement.  The Holiday Inn Express side of the ground floor – the areas are separated by the lift lobby – has its own bar / restaurant which serves drinks and a standard Cafe Rouge-style food menu.  There is also, behind the lifts, a stand-alone bar with two doors – one on each brands ‘side’ of the ground floor – which is pictured below.  Whilst decoratively it looks more like the Crowne Plaza, it is open to all guests.

crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 bar

And here:

crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 review

Here’s a view looking up from the lobby:

crowne plaza heathrow terminal 4 interior

Restaurant

The General Manager, Andrew Brown, gave me a tour of the hotel.  When we went into Urban, the main restaurant (on the Crowne Plaza side but usable by guests at either brand) he told me what a great team of chefs he had assembled and how impressed he was by the food.  This is, of course, what you’d expect him to say!

I got a shock though.  I had the best meal that I have ever had in an airport hotel.

crowne plaza heathrow t4 restaurant urban review

Here is the interior – this is also where breakfast is served:

crowne plaza heathrow t4 restaurant dining

This was a scallop and risotto appetiser:

crowne plaza heathrow t4 scallop starter

And this was my ‘three ways’ pork main course:

crowne plaza heathrow t4 pork

It was very good.  If you are looking for a Heathrow hotel where you can eat well, in particular if you are meeting a client, I strongly recommend the Crowne Plaza Terminal 4.

Club Lounge

There WILL be an Executive Lounge at the hotel, but it will not be open until January 2019.

There are a couple of other facilities worth mentioning.  There is a gym in the basement.  This is ONLY for Crowne Plaza guests, so don’t book into the Holiday Inn Express side if you want to exercise.

crowne plaza heathrow t4 gym

There is a meeting room on lobby level which can be booked even if you are not a guest.

Finally, a few shots from breakfast.  There is a decent spread including a cook who can rustle up eggs and various other made to order items.

crowne plaza heathrow t4 breakfast buffet review

I’ve never seen so many pots of jam on a buffet!

crowne plaza heathrow t4 breakfast buffet review

Conclusion

The Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 is an impressive property.  As a brand new hotel – it even still smells new – it is obviously in excellent decorative order and has the high quality wi-fi, plethora of plug sockets and modern shower that you’d expect.

What you don’t always expect from a brand new hotel is good service and a fine-tuned restaurant, but I’m pleased to say that everything is working well in those areas too.

It is plusher and a little cosier than the adjacent Hilton – and you save a couple of minutes each way walking to and from the terminal.  The Hilton Terminal 4 has a lounge, of course, which may swing it for Hilton Diamond members, but the Crowne Plaza will have its own lounge space from January.  We need to see if Spire Elite members are given free access.

Tomorrow I will share a few thoughts on the Holiday Inn Express which shares the building.

Cash rates at the Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4 start at £110 for advance booking (room only) for midweek dates in December / January.  This is about £35 more than the Holiday Inn Express and you will get free breakfast there.  For points, the Crowne Plaza is 30,000 points per night which – at my notional 0.4p valuation – is about right.  The Holiday Inn Express is 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night.

Thanks to IHG for arranging my stay and for Andrew Brown and his team for showing me around.

The hotel website is here if you want to find out more.  You can compare and contrast with the Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 website which is here.

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Comments

  1. Looks very nice, was tempted to stay there on my next trip, interested to see about the HIX there though!

    • Urban doesn’t appear to be a HIX restaurant and I can’t find any reference to it or any other restaurant in the hotel being run by HIX on the hixrestaurants.com website or on the Crowne Plaza site. Rob’s comment “I had the best meal that I have ever had in an airport hotel” would however be in keeping with it be HIX operated. It would however worry me that HIX will end up dumbing down their amazing brand if they start putting restaurants into Crowne Plaza hotels.

      • Nick, HIX is a common abbreviation for Holiday Inn Express…

        • Not that “common” if you try googling HIX or HIX Hotel. You have to trawl through page after page before you find any reference to Holiday Inn Express! In contrast the more usual acronym HIE Hotel brings up Hoilday Inn Express straight away.

        • Correct, this is what I mean by HIX

        • Shoestring says:

          And Mark Hix runs great restaurants, so I can see the possible confusion.

        • Although that use HfP/FT more than they frequent London restaurants it was pretty clear 😀

        • Lady London says:

          @Nick you are obviously not spending enough time on HfP. HIX has been common short for Holiday Inn Express bandied about HfP for a long time now.

          Please pay more attention when read HfP
          🙂

        • I think we all know what he meant by HIX on this site.

        • Lots of interest for a pretty uninteresting comment haha

  2. I stayed 16/11 between flights and didn’t find myself wanting to give up on either the CP @ Gerrards Cross if I were driving down or the Sofitel if I were in transit. T4 is a pain to get to from the other terminals as the train connection is only twice an hour; so factor an hour to get there from other terminals.

    It is miles ahead of the big old tired CP on the M4. On the walk was from T4 its closer to the airport than the Hilton. Hats off to Hilton for booking all the advertising hoardings in it though. The CP / HIX are well signposted; but Hilton have tempted you all the way there. As you enter the hotel there is a weird hotel shop selling a strange assortment of goods rather than the staple toothbrush souvenirs and snacks.

    In room internet speeds were really good for uk hotel; but still couldn’t stream 4k Netflix or itunes. Bed was comfy. Room went very dark so you should be able to sleep no matter the time; and they have guaranteed wake up calls. The room didn’t feel special to me compared to other new CP hotels. They seem to be the CP standard design and fittings. They are nice and robust the desk is a fine place to work for a couple of hours and a splash of USB sockets mean you can recharge most things. Nespresso coffee too in my business room; the dust coffee packs were Dowe Egberts. When I stayed some of the lifts were out of service. The floor access validation sensors were off and there were safety signs on the floor rather than on the wall. So it still had some snags to fix. Shower worked but didn’t stand out for pressure or fittings.

    The bar was a large empty dark cavern at 9pm with 3 customers; so service was quick:) It felt like a lifeless cavern. It serves IHG UK standard drinks which, for beer anyway and general spirits, are low end.

    In the restaurant I found the service to be enthusiastic but unbearably slow. An hour for a plate of noodles; they were nice when they arrived but shouldn’t have taken so long – and by the time they did I was solidly jet lagged – the restaurant wasn’t close to 1/2 full. They also shuttle drinks from the bar to the restaurant and my second order didn’t arrive before my main course was finished.

    At check out there was a small queue with two staff; the first person I approached didn’t understand something on the computer or couldn’t log in; gave up and handed me off to someone else.

    In my ihg feedback my score was 2.9/5.Its new and they can fix the service just a shame it is at t4. The Sofitel is definitely the nicer experience. The service is more polished, the lounge is open. The location is better for a lot of us. That 30 minute train service is a dog to t4.

    • Shoestring says:

      Wasn’t the advice yesterday to take the bus from another terminal to get to T4 rather than the train? – ie much better frequency.

    • It didn’t take me anything like an hour from the Hilton to T5.

    • If going TO T2&3 from T4 there are 4 TfL Rail trains an hour and 6 Piccadilly Line trains an hour.

      If going FROM T2&3 to T4 there are 4 TfL Rail trains an hour, Piccadilly Line requires a change of train at Hatton Cross

      If going between T4 and T5, busses 482 and 490 are the easiest/fastest options.

  3. I paid £190 for a booking whilst I was at T3, then got over to T4. As mentioned before, the food at the restaurant was very good. I had the Thai Green Curry I think, it was very tasty. Didn’t get to see breakfast due to an early flight and used No.1 instead.

  4. William Denby says:

    Which hotel do you recommend for a car park + stay option?

    • Would also like to hear current thoughts on this. Need to get to T3. Planning to use old CP on M4 as have to move an elderly relative who uses a scooter and this has worked previously. Prefer to self park and keep hold of keys.

      • We used this in the summer and liked it. Got a great rate for stay and park and my wife and daughter enjoyed using the pool. Enjoyed the free drinks tokens too

    • I usually use the Doubletree which is excellent value.

    • Look at our recent article on Hilton T5 (not actually at T5) which has a cheap NCP attached and a shuttle from the hotel.

  5. IslandDweller says:

    The T4 train shuttle is designed to be 4 per hour. However – persistent problems with the train fleet (it’s the tfl / formerly Connect trains) mean frequent cancellations, which probably won’t be resolved until the new Crossrail (type 345) trains take over sometime later in 2019. There is additionally the Piccadilly line which is free between terminals (if using oyster or contactless).
    Rob says the journey to T5 is difficult, but I found the (free) local bus to be simple enough.

  6. John Tickner says:

    Best airport hotel meal ?

    I often find that La Belle Epoque at Sofitel T5 is the best meal I have on any trip !

  7. Looks good. Have a HIX stay in a few weeks, for a quick overnight it sounds like it was worth saving 10k IHG points, although guess I’ll find out more in tomorrow’s article!

  8. I will be pleasantly surprised if the new crowne plaza offers free lounge access. I didn’t get it at the other CP at Heathrow. I did get it at the Gatwick one, though.

    • RussellH says:

      I have experience of both the Older CP Heathrow (someway out in the wilds) and the Gatwick CP (actually well inside Crawley).

      Our room at the LHR CP was at least twice the size of the Crawley one (which has the smallest CP rooms I have ever seen En route to USA for three weeks, including a wedding, so a large and a small suitcase each, there was hardly any space to move). I was pleased with the restaurant, but manager insisted on only one drinks voucher.

    • CP Gatwick didn’t give me anything for Spire apart from a drink and the nuts from the bar as they had no snack option, should have asked for lounge access but didn’t think they had one by the looks of the place

  9. I can highly recommend the CP, I stayed for three nights the first week it was open on points and was upgraded to a suite. Great size and it’s true about the sound proofing, it’s excellent. The only teething problem which I found was getting out of the underground car park. The front desk validated my parking ticket but it never once managed to open the gate so had to buzz the intercom. Great staff and property other than that though.

    • Why would you stay at an airport hotel for more than one night at a time?

      • Lots of people hold meetings or conferences at airports because it saves time for everyone flying in and the hotels are often cheaper than the city. I did 2 nights at Hilton Amsterdam Airport in October.

      • Lady London says:

        and sometimes airport hotels really beat the pricing in town by huge margins.

        Plus they’ve usually got faster access to main trunk roads and motorways, than fighting your way out of town if you’re using a vehicle.

  10. Can we assume only the HIX rooms face inwards to the atrium, i.e. the CP rooms are all external. I’m sure you’ll answer that in the HIX review but it seems worth including here, since no everyone will read both together, when referring back.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I thought the article says HIE one side of the central lift and CP other? Or am I misreading?

      • HIE rooms also face outwards – the one I was in (see photos tomorrow) looked outward to the terminal. There should be an equal number of inward and outward facing rooms in both hotels.

        • By happy coincidence I’m staying in the HIE T4 for a couple of nights right now. Being somewhat plane-spotter-ish I was delighted to be allocated a 5th floor room with a great view of one end of the southern runway. Looking at the floorplan my interpretation is that the CP occupies the southern part of the complex, so outward rooms are overlooking the Southern Perimeter Road, while the HIE forms the northern part, with outward rooms overlooking the airport itself… if I’m right then it’s HIE all the way for me! So far so good: friendly service, everything works well, super fresh and clean. Note to the gentleman occupying an inward HIE room last night: not everyone wants to see you wandering about in your pants, so please shut the curtains 🙂

    • Adzithast says:

      The rooms are actually equally spread out so some face inward and some face outwards on both sides.

  11. The bus is by far the easiest and quickest way to go betweeen T4 to T5, stop 7 at both ends. For the T4 Premier Inn, there is a bus stop right outside the hotel.

    • Plus one for the 490 free bus – Simple and direct. And the PI at T4 is often £29.99 or £39.99 so its my go to option. Paid about £85 recently to include one nights accommodation , evening measl and breakfast for two. Granted its not five star and/or fine dining but its a fraction on the price elsewhere.

      • Given that the Premier Inn next door is also a new-ish hotel, and was also built by Arora (like this hotel and the Sofitel) with great soundproofing, it’s baffling that the Hilton and CP and HIX can charge so much more.

        https://www.thecaterer.com/articles/500587/arora-completes-premier-inn-terminal-4-london-heathrow

        • I was told that CP will be matching the Hilton and the HIX will be matching the Premier Inn – which doesn’t have free breakfast, remember, and T4 is not exactly full of cheap eating places.

        • Agreed. Whilst CP is a full service hotel, apart from free breakfast, HIX will struggle to attract customers with what they are charging, as PI has runway views and still only cost as low as £29.50 a night. And that’s coming from a Spire Elite who is clearly very loyal to IHG

        • When I was booking for cash at last minute the CP was £190 and Hilton was £295. I needed sleep for 6 hours. But I know others paid it as they knew VS would refund them with the delayed flight. I took the sensible pill that morning.

  12. Nigel the pensioner says:

    The dining indeed looks good, but frankly I doubt that it will maintain its gourmet looks in the longer term. Remember it is also for families in the HI express (not even HI).
    For a true gourmet fine dining experience you simply cannot beat the Belle Epoque at the Sofitel which has been our sole choice for LHR residence since it opened, irrespective of which terminal we are flying from. The level of service, the ambience and the comfortable pleasure of staying at this Sofitel is exceptional and has remained so to this day, since opening.
    In fact, we shall be there again this evening!! May see you in the lounge before dinner!?

    • The HI Express has its own dining area – I doubt many families will pay £20 for a main course which is what the CP wants.

      Never stayed at the Sofitel but it is under the same ownership as the CP as you know. Arora will also be running the new Hilton Garden Inn opening at T2/3 after Christmas.

      • Having worked in the market a couple of years ago I am surprised at all this extra capacity – the outer hotels at Bath Road etc must be really suffering at off-peak times. Great news for travelers during disruption though as things used to fill up very fast if something went wrong!

  13. Regarding HIX, Am I the only one that really doesn’t like this new design of HIX with no proper desk to work on?

  14. Lady London says:

    @Dimitri if you mean that little wobbly table on a stick that new HIX’s seem to provide instead of a desk, I wouldn;t even put a cup of coffee on it much less work on it.

    I am seriously wondering whether IHG are going to do the Crowne Plaza brand damage by mixing the supposedly much lower standard rooms – but not really much lower standard rooms – paid for at HIX rates even on each floor.

  15. We stayed last week and were sadly unimpressed. My views are similar to Chris’s post, about 3 out of 5. We like staying in new hotels as in theory they should be better than their similar star counterparts. The room was small, wifi was ok at 5-7mb but not great, especially when you have 30-40mb at home! The rooms in hotels never go cold enough for us, so we are always hopeful of good a/c in new hotels, this hotel was no different to most we stay in (18c is the minimum and it takes all night to get anywhere near that). Biggest disappointment was the mattress, no memory foam or mattress topper etc, it felt ordinary/cheap. Water pressure was ok in the shower but nothing special.
    I really struggle with what makes a CP a CP? 30 years ago when we first stayed in a CP it was plush and luxurious, this is not the case here. It’s an airport business hotel.
    Originally booked it for the lounge with an expectation as Spire elite that we would have access, so that was a damp squib. Also my upgrade was another damp squib, from a standard room to a business room, which at best was a hollow upgrade as the only difference appeared to be the Nespresso and we don’t drink coffee! We were there midweek and we had breakfast at 9am and there were 2 other people there. Breakfast buffet looked very tired, like it had been sat there drying out for 3 hours. Another bizarre thing is that there were plate warmers but the plates weren’t in them, so all the plates were cold, pet peeve of mine putting hot food an cold plates. The service was ok. We were out of T4 taking advantage of a good QR fare to HKG (QR lounge is fabulous, by the way). Next time I’d stay elsewhere either next door or the Hilton.

  16. With 2 in 1 properties you need to check you’re getting credited with two stays if you’re staying at both properties. They usually share the back offices and you could end up being credited with just the one.

  17. Michael Jennings says:

    There’s a Holiday Inn Express right next to a Crowne Plaza at Aberdeen Airport. They’re separate buildings, but they are identically shaped on the outside apart from different branding. They often have the same room price as each other, and even if they don’t the Crowne Plaza is seldom more than a few quid more than the HIE. The pull of “posher brand” against “free breakfast” seems to be about equal. There are way too many hotels at Aberdeen Airport for the current level of business, though, so it may be an unusual case.

    Given that the vast majority of hotel restaurants and/or hotel bars are perfectly happy to serve any random person who comes in – hotel guest or not – it’s pretty much inevitable that the guests of both hotels are going to use both sets of facilities, I would think.

  18. Just checking out the price for 2 adults and 2 kids in both hotels on a Saturday night; the CP is £141 per night, the HIX £63. Given you get free brekkie in HIX, it’s brand new and you share the bar area, it’s a no brainer. If CP was a step change better, but at nearly £80 difference, I don’t think so.

  19. TfL*

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