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Review of the impressive, brand new Crowne Plaza hotel at London 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 t4 room

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 t4 bed

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.

crowne plaza heathrow t4 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.

crowne plaza heathrow t4 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:

crowne plaza heathrow t4 bar

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 t4 bar

And here:

crowne plaza heathrow t4 bar

Here’s a view looking up from the lobby:

crowne plaza heathrow t4 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

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

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

crowne plaza heathrow t4 breakfast buffet

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.


IHG Rewards Club update – November 2020:

Get bonus points: IHG’s current promotion is ‘2x’, which runs until 15th December 2020. You can learn more in our article here. You can register here using promo code 44480.

New to IHG Rewards Club?  Read our two-part overview of IHG Rewards Club here and here and our article on expiry rules here.

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

Comments (58)

  • Mr Dee says:

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

    • Nick says:

      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.

      • Nigel says:

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

        • Nick says:

          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.

        • Mr Dee says:

          Correct, this is what I mean by HIX

        • Shoestring says:

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

          • Alan says:

            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
          🙂

        • Evan says:

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

        • Mr Dee says:

          Lots of interest for a pretty uninteresting comment haha

  • Chris says:

    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.

    • Leo says:

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

    • Paul says:

      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.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    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.

  • William Denby says:

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

    • JJ says:

      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.

      • Alan says:

        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

    • Alex W says:

      I usually use the Doubletree which is excellent value.

    • Rob says:

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

  • 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.

  • 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 !

  • Alan says:

    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!

  • Alex W says:

    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.

    • Mr Dee says:

      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