Our review of Hilton London Gatwick Airport, at the South Terminal

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This is our review of the Hilton London Gatwick Airport hotel, at the South Terminal.

With an early morning meeting in the diary to plan Virgin Atlantic’s sponsorship for our Christmas party, I ended up spending the night at Gatwick Airport.  We decided to kill two birds with one stone and add another hotel to our collection of Heathrow and Gatwick airport hotels reviews – click here for the full list.

We booked the hotel using 30,000 Hilton Honors points from Rob’s account, since it was a last-minute booking where cash rates were higher than you’d usually expect.

The Hilton is the only full service hotel directly connected to the South Terminal, but getting to it is a bit of a challenge! You have to exit the terminal and cross the bus lane to the short stay car park, take the lift up one floor to floor 2 before turning right through a set of automatic doors. Then it’s a long walk through this soulless corridor:

hilton london gatwick airport review

The hotel itself is in a huge 1960s building. It’s wide rather than tall, with over 800 rooms on four floors. It was difficult getting a sense of the building as it has many different wings and zones. Here is the lobby atrium:

hilton london gatwick airport review

Trying to find your room can be a bit of a challenge given the confusing signage:

hilton london gatwick airport review

With a Diamond upgrade, I was given a room much larger than I needed. It had a King bed as well as two singles:

hilton london gatwick airport review

and:


hilton london gatwick airport review

…. with two large wardrobes, a small table and four chairs and a desk, all of which seemed to be older than me:

hilton london gatwick airport review

Connectivity is a little lacking, as you’d expect for an older hotel. There is only a single plug socket beside the bed and to use this you had to unplug the bedside lights!

The room comes with an empty mini fridge, kettle and tea/coffee selection. If you are an Hilton Honors Diamond status holder they give you your two bottles of water at check-in, which you must carry up yourself.  This would be annoying if you have lots of bags, which luckily I didn’t.

hilton london gatwick airport review

The décor is in fairly good shape despite having a slightly outdated design.

The room itself was very dark. This is constrained by the building itself – it only has very narrow windows. You can see the curtains next to the black panels in this courtyard view from my room:

hilton london gatwick airport review

The bathroom is clearly an older format, with a shower over the tub, but it was clean and newer than the furniture in the room.  It came with Crabtree & Evelyn products:

hilton london gatwick airport review

and

hilton london gatwick airport review

The bed itself was comfortable. In most hotels I find myself overheating since the rooms are temperature controlled and the duvets heavier than they need to be. At the Hilton, however, the lighter duvet was perfect for me.

This is an airport hotel with many guests staying in order to catch very early flights. This wouldn’t have been a problem if the room had a bit more soundproofing. .… I ended up waking up at the same time as an Italian family next door. I was also woken a few times by doors slamming shut.

Breakfast is served on the ground floor in the Garden Restaurant. It is the usual selection of hot and cold food, though I did spot some smoked mackerel! No smoked salmon, however, unlike at the Crowne Plaza I stayed at recently.

hilton london gatwick airport review

and

hilton london gatwick airport review

and

hilton london gatwick airport review

Executive Lounge

The Executive lounge, open to those in Executive rooms and those with Hilton Diamond status, is mainly set up with tables and chairs alongside a few sofas.

hilton london gatwick airport review

The only newspapers they had were the i and the Irish Independent (!), which I thought was a little disappointing.

The lounge serves free continental breakfast in the mornings:

hilton london gatwick airport review

and

hilton london gatwick airport review

…… as well as complimentary drinks and canapes early evening.  I didn’t see these as I arrived very late.

Conclusion

Though it won’t be winning any design awards in a hurry, the Hilton London Gatwick Airport does have the unique selling point of being the only hotel within walking distance of the South Terminal building, even if it is a maze to get to!  That said, there are a number of walkable options at the North Terminal – primarily the new(ish) Hampton by Hilton which we reviewed here and which has free breakfast for everyone – and there is a free monorail linking the terminals.

The Hilton Gatwick building is very spread out, and thanks to its size it felt both a little soulless and difficult to navigate.  With a little clearer signage, and potentially some room renumbering, they might be able to make it a little easier.

On the whole, it was a pleasant but not outstanding experience as you’d expect from your average airport hotel.  Hilton Diamond members will find it better value as they will get free lounge access.  Cash rates vary – they were around £149 when we booked but I can see midweek rooms as low as £71 in January.

The standard Hilton Honors redemption price is 30,000 points although it drops a little lower on dates where cash prices are also low.  Given our standard value of a Hilton point of 0.33p, a redemption can be good value on nights where prices are £100+.

You can find out more about Hilton London Gatwick Airport on its website here.

How to earn Hilton Honors points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(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. I used to stay here a lot before early morning flights but service has degraded significantly over the years. My last two stays were revolting, and I currently have Gold status. We’re talking dated rooms that look nothing like the one pictured here and indifferent service. One of the rooms I was allocated recently had a broken AC (-1 degrees weather outside) and they initially refused to move me as they didn’t have a room available in that same category! As I was effectively freezing in the room I packed my bags and went to reception ready to check myself out. Eventually I was given another room, but very little in the way of apology etc. I was never given access to the Executive Lounge, even as Diamond. I cancelled my last stay last week and instead spent £59 for a basic room in a nearby hotel, 10’ drive but a lot more honest service.

  2. ” the duvets heavier than they need to be”

    Hah! Good for me then.
    Everyone has different feelings.

    Thanks for te review Rhys.

    • Thick duvets drive me absolutely barmy. My answer is to turn down the AC to 18 degrees. This in turn drives my wife barmy who sneakily turns the AC off when I’m asleep. Cue me waking up at 2am covered in sweat.

      • +1
        At home I have a thin duvet and she has a thick one.
        Given that hotels cater to guests with different tastes I suggest they should provide three thin duvets – then she who prefers more can use two.
        If both want to be warn then one can turn up the a/c

  3. The Marriott Courtyard is also in easy walking distance of the South Terminal.

    • Wally1976 says:

      Yes, we’ve stayed there a couple of times – a family room for 20k Marriott points (I think it’s actually fewer now). No free breakfast but we get that in the airport lounges. Meet and greet parking met us at the hotel on arrival to avoid hotel parking costs.

  4. Pain au chocolate on the same page as a cooked breakfast? No Rhys!!

    Thanks for the review, I’ve always managed to get decent rates for the Premier Inn at the North terminal so that’s my go to even with the awful lift situation.

  5. Stayed there a few times, bit of a rabbit warren isn’t it?

    Last time was courtesy of BA as they delayed our return home from the Rangali (just for you Mike), nice dinner & breakfast on top of the EU261 compo.

    Currently in Manchester Hilton Airport, this place has the same look and feel, rooms could do with a revamp. About to go try out the breakfast.

    • Yes they charge an arm and a leg for family rooms and think they are a lot posher than they actually are (the MAN Hilton, I haven’t made it to the Rangali yet!)

    • Breakfast at Manchester was good, nice omelette made to order. Also no smoked salmon by default, however I made a simple request for some and it appeared on a wee plate by the time I’d returned from the buffet to my table.

      Now in the Aspire lounge, fairly decent but not hungry enough to try any food…

    • That sums up Hilton Hotels for me, a strange mix of old and new, and always thinking they’re much nicer than they are. Give me a nice modern Hampton any day.

    • Manchester airport is not a good Hilton. No lounge, some shocking rooms and no diamond recognition across half a dozen stays breakfast decent and bar always friendly enough but overall it’s a metaphor for manchester airport itself…

  6. Have stayed here a few times for early flights. Only experienced the Executive Lounge once, it was an upgrade, but found it quiet and not unpleasant.

    The rooms are OK, sometimes a bit jaded. I have always had good service. I tend not to have breakfast (I get something in the airport lounge).

    I once got a room for 19000 points, but expect to pay between 25-30,000.

  7. I stay here frequently. As a Diamond – I usually get an “upgrade” to executive in the new wing, which is much nicer than the old wing but I’ve never received anything bigger, like the family room Rhys seems to have got.

    The breakfast IMO is one of the wider selections available in UK Hiltons and it starts at 0530 unlike the lounge which only opens at 0600.

    Executive rooms usually have 2 water bottles already but reception still gives me another 2, and once a further 2 bottles were delivered to my room, so that time I had 6 of which I drank 0, since they can’t exactly be taken through airport security.

    • The new wing *is* nicer, but it’s miles and miles and miles away. I’ve never managed to get a room within 10 minutes of reception!

  8. Spurs Debs says:

    I stayed in this hotel 2 weeks ago. The banging off doors drove me mad but it’s a particular bug bear of mine. It’s a typical soulless airport hotel a bit shabby but fine for a pre flight stay. I thought the breakfast was ok a good choice.

    Have also stayed at the doubletree Hilton’s at city airport that’s a lot more modern but is so hot it’s uncomftable.

    I thought I saw a hotel in Gatwick South terminal but can’t remember it’s name.

    As a side note and not something a young fit person wouldnt even notice. But if you need wheelchair assistance you can arrange to be picked up in reception just ask conceiage or reception to organsise. It might be useful info for someone, as it is a long walk. There is also a phone at entrance to call for help if you require it.

    • Spurs Debs says:

      Also stayed at Hilton near LHR terminal 3 last Monday now that is shabby, the bath is so high no chance of any one with dodgy hips being able to use it safely. For some reason all I could smell was onions and I could hear the people next door.
      But again for a 6am flight it was ok but I doubt I would book again as I couldn’t use shower unless I book disabled room.

    • @Spurs Debs: There are both the Yotel and the Bloc inside Gatwick South. The Bloc hotel has some compact but very pleasant rooms with cool views over the runway. The Yotel’s rooms are windowless prison cells that you would have to be mad to stay in. Neither has a food offering but not a problem as they are in the terminal, so 1 min walk to multiple food options.

  9. Related as airport hotel – stated at HIX T4 on Thu night. Checkin was chaos thanks to lots of BA pax being booked in (I’m guessing cancellation due to French ATC strike?). Room key didn’t work to open door, so had to schlep back down again! Spire drinks and snack voucher provided (as well as 300 points, think that was a mistake!). Room decent with plenty of USB and power sockets, good shower, good soundproofing. Walk back to T4 didn’t take long but unfortunately then found a massive bus queue (couldn’t get in the first couple of buses) so decided to cut our losses and head for HEX. Turned out (as we subsequently discovered) there was a fire alarm in T5 HEX/Underground station, so then stuck at Heathrow Central bus station waiting again for another bus! Mobile BP didn’t work so had to checkin at desk and they had to phone for authorisation given 43 min before flight!

    Overall would consider HIX T4 again, but hotel hoppa may actually have some value 😉

  10. There is actually a short cut to the Gatwick HIlton which saves the need for lifts – after crossing over the roadway into the car park building just stay on the same level and walk through the ‘Premium Gatwick’ parking Bay towards the back wall. Just before you reach it, on the right there is a double door / fire exit which you go through and then turn left – you are magically already half way up the long ramp featured in this review and closer to the Hilton entrance. All on the same level, no queuing for lifts or doubling back involved.

    • Does this shortcut still exist? I though I’d read that it has been blocked off, I think by alarming the fire doors.

      Stayed at the hotel a couple of years ago and was very impressed with breakfast in the restaurant – staff were just going the extra mile & were really cheerful.

      • Nope – see my longer comment about the idiotic management…..

        Its been boarded up – for no real reason – hotel blames GIP as they own the carpark….

        Its absolutely stupid!

        • Thanks for the update on this – you’ve saved me from an upcoming embarrassing backtrack with the in-laws in tow!

    • I agree with it being a maze, but if one is coming from the airport terminal (which includes from the train station) one can go across at the Terminal Level, and then *down* one level in a lift, rather than going down to road level and back up.

      The downstairs restaurant looked so bad, and the one in the lobby so expensive, that I took the long walk to the terminal for something less bad in the Wetherspoons.

  11. I’ve stayed at this Hilton twice this year (and Hilton is not a personal preference). Both times, the hotel was very busy and Reception nowhere near manned sufficiently, causing extended waits to collect room keycards. I’d already checked in via the HH app, so it was quicker for me than others. Even then twice a I had to return to get the cards recorded as they stopped working.. I was in the newer wing, so had a significant walk back each time.

    This hotel badly needs the equivalent to Marriott Mobile Key option to cut down on footfall at Reception desks

    • Nick Burch says:

      If you’re Hilton Diamond, you can check in and check out at the Executive Lounge, saves a lot of queuing!

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