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Review: Hilton London Gatwick Airport hotel, 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.

Hilton Gatwick South

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

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The décor is in fairly good shape despite having a slightly outdated design.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


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


hilton london gatwick airport review


Hilton Gatwick South breakfast

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


hilton london gatwick airport review

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


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 read our full series of London airport hotel reviews here.

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

How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards (October 2022)

There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted into three Hilton Honors points. The Virgin Atlantic cards are the only Visa or Mastercard products in the UK which can indirectly earn Hilton Honors points. You can apply here.

You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly with:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Hilton points is 1:2.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Hilton Honors points

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

Comments (80)

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

  • Paul C says:

    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.

    • Tony says:

      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.

      • sunguy says:

        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!

        • Paul C says:

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

    • Bagoly says:

      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.

  • Derek says:

    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!

  • Brian S says:

    Just left this hotel last yesterday after a one night stay.

    I thought it was your typical dated airport hotel that doesn’t need investment as such because it serves its purpose to what it is. I know that sounds rather simplistic but we have countless others that are exactly the same and not just in the UK. They live on being convenient.

    Pleased I redeemed points instead of the £149 cash rate. Would never pay more than £80 for this hotel and that would be purely down to convenience.

  • FlyUpTop says:

    Our room earlier this year on a so called Diamond upgrade needed a serious update, they left the heating on so high we needed to use the air con all night to bring it back down to a comfortable temp. I believe there is a new section which may have more modern interiors but for all its bad points, its location is brilliant and breakfast was a pleasant experience.

  • Leo says:

    I stay here a lot. I prefer it to the Sofitel and the Premier Inn. I’ve always been upgraded both formerly as Diamond and now as gold. I was upgraded even when I stayed using Iberia Avios from the recent 90k bonanza. The bar is ok and IMHO it’s easier to get food than the Sofitel. The exec lounge is always full with the usual hordes massing around the free drink. It’s ok basically. Much cheaper if you book well in advance.

  • Francis says:

    Stayed last month and manager confirmed that renovations start early next year

  • Phil Huff says:

    I’ve stayed here plenty of time and most of the currents are pretty reasonable. However, there’s a newer wing with more modern rooms that are far better than those in the main building, albeit a long walk away. If memory serves me correctly, they’re the rooms that start with a ‘7’, so 7324 would be the new wing, third floor, room 24.

    I switched to the Bloc Hotel within the airport recently. That was interesting, but perfectly reasonable for the two short overnight stops I had.

  • Jason says:

    I stay here a lot and have always had an upgrade due to diamond. Last week I arrived from Glasgow at 8am had a coffee at the Costa and at 9am asked about dropping my bag, she said as diamond I can check you in. I paid £69 public sector rate and by 9.30 I was in the exec lounge having breakfast. Went into London and came back at 6.30 for canopies and drinks. At 8am I was having breakfast again. I did well for £69 let me tell you that.

    • Anna says:

      I’ve been looking at public sector rates, the only downside is that you have to pay up front, but I guess if you make a flexible booking you could check the public sector rate a few days before and change if available. Did you have to show any ID? I don’t tend to carry mine unless working so would need to remember it if so!

      • Mikee says:

        I’ve not been asked for my ID whenever I’ve stayed. In fact, at hotels with digital check in and digital key, there has been no need for me to visit the front desk – have just gone straight to the room and opened my door using my phone. Same with check out, just left the hotel and then received the invoice via email after 12pm.
        Have always taken my ID though just in case they ask.

    • Curiousy says:

      Jason, work or leisure?

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