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Review: the new Hilton Garden Inn at London Heathrow Terminal 2

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This is our review of the new Hilton Garden Inn at London Heathrow Terminal 2.

The Hilton Garden Inn at Heathrow Terminal 2 has now been open for a couple of weeks, so we thought it was time to check it out.

HFP paid the £90 cost of the room itself.  We were not actually flying anywhere – hanging around in Terminal 2 is what we do for fun!

The Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Terminal 2 website is here.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

As you can see from the image below, this is an oddly shaped hotel squeezed into a small patch of land between the car park and the road.  I’m not sure if it was previously empty or if another structure was demolished.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

What is a Hilton Garden Inn?

This is the obvious question, as least for our UK readers.  There are only a handful of Hilton Garden Inn hotels in the UK and some of those – the best known is at Hatton Cross, just outside Heathrow and reviewed here – were conversions from other brands.

As a new build, Heathrow Terminal 2 is presumably designed to the ‘full’ HGI specification.  What this seems to mean is:

  • small and unexciting rooms
  • a shower with no bath
  • an ‘open’ wardrobe
  • a decent work desk
  • an empty fridge but no minibar
  • tea and coffee making facilities, plus a free bottle of water
  • a small snack shop in the lobby
  • a restaurant and bar
  • a laundry room

It is certainly NOT at the level of a new Hilton such as, say, London Bankside.  What I don’t fully understand is how it differs from a Hampton by Hilton.  Both are pitched at the three star market.  Arguably Hilton Garden Inn has a more corporate feel with Hampton targeting the leisure / family market.  Hampton has free breakfast for all guests whilst Hilton Garden Inn does not.

How do you get to Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Terminal 2?

Whilst Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 are connected via a series of underground corridors which link both of them to the tube and Heathrow Express platforms, the Hilton Garden Inn is techinically in Terminal 2.  It is, basically, stuck onto the back of the car park!

It couldn’t be easier to find as long as you do one thing – leave Terminal 2 Arrivals by the door directly opposite the Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

If you do this, it is idiot proof.  Walk forwards into the car park, keep walking forwards through the car park, do not move left or right, and you will be in the hotel!  You do NOT go up any steps so it is easy if you have luggage.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

and

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

The lobby

The ‘new hotel’ smell hits you as soon as you enter the walkway from the car park to the lobby.  The lobby is actually a lot funkier than the rooms:

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

I was checked in quickly and my Diamond status acknowledged.  This didn’t seem to count for anything, though, as I was given a room on Level 5 – the first floor of bedrooms.  It goes as high as Level 13.

It meant I had this view from my window.  I am grateful that the Hilton Garden Inn has the best soundproofing I have ever experienced!

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

The room

The first thing that hit me when I opened the door was a blast of cold air.  The thermostat had been set to a rather aggressive 18 degrees compared to the usual 22-24 degree.

The room was disappointingly bland.  You have grey / green wallpaper, grey / green carpet and grey bed bases.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

The chair is also grey, livened up (a very tiny bit) by a dark wood table!

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

There is no wardrobe, only a small open rail, but that is perfectly fine for an overnight stay.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

Full credit to Hilton for including a desk.  The curve was unnecessary, cutting down the working space, but apart from that it was fine.  There were four UK plug sockets and two USB chargers within easy reach.

The desk also contained a kettle, tea / coffee and a free bottle of Hildon water.  There is an empty fridge, visible in the picture under the desk, but no mini-bar – the fridge is for any items you bring yourself or buy in the lobby shop.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

The bathroom contained a shower but no tub.   It was high quality, with a choice of rainfall or hand-held.  Whilst the water pressure was perfect, the water ‘flow’ was a little odd – it was as if the holes in the shower head were smaller than normal!  It looked like a lot of water was coming out but you didn’t feel that you were getting very wet.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

Toiletries were by Crabtree & Evelyn:

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

The view was, of course, terrible as I mentioned above.  However, if I had been higher up, I would have had a good view of the runway.  I am a little confused as to why a Diamond member – and my status was acknowledged at check-in – was given a room on Level 5 which is clearly the worst one.

(EDIT: it seems that a Diamond does NOT get upgraded at a HGI.  You learn something new every day!  However, this still does not explain why you would allocate them a standard room on the worst possible floor.)

And no mobile signal …..

The Vodafone signal in my room was appalling.  It never got beyond two bars and was often at one bar.  The one telephone call I attempted to make had terrible reception and eventually cut out.  I ended up using Skype which was fine, as the wi-fi was very good.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

Other amenities

The hotel will soon have a rooftop bar which promises to have some exceptional views.  It will not open until August, I believe, so I couldn’t test it out.

In the lobby is a small snack shop:

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

The bar and restaurant

Hilton Garden Inn has a bar, ‘The Apron Bar’ and restaurant, ‘The Apron Restaurant’.

Both are well designed and pleasant places to spend some time, despite being on the lower level and so at the same level as the supports holding up the road overhead.

Here is a shot of the bar.  Only after I had eaten in the restaurant did I realise that the bar has its own menu and I could have eaten there instead:

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

The restaurant was OK.  The staff were great, the menu was well presented and the mix of ‘classics’ – grilled steak or chicken, burgers, fish and chips, chicken tikka, pizza, pasta, salads – probably well suited to the target market.

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

and

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

Here was my £15.50 fish and chips – the fish looked overcooked but was actually fine:

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

Here’s a tip.  Do not do what I did, which is accept a seat near the entrance.  Your view is basically ‘all the trash that the hotel and Heathrow decided to dump under the ring road’.  Not attractive.

Move towards the back of the room and you can look at this instead, although only a handful of table have this view:

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

To be honest, I don’t understand why the hotel insisted on building a rooftop bar and didn’t move the restaurant to the top floor instead. The ambience would have been much improved.

Breakfast

Hilton Honors Diamond members do not AUTOMATICALLY get free breakfast at a Hilton Garden Inn.

HGI is the ONLY Hilton brand where a Diamond has to opt in to get a free breakfast.

You CAN have it, but you must change your ‘MyWay’ benefits option 24 hours before checking in.  The default MyWay option is to refuse the free breakfast and award you 750 bonus points – which I’d value at £3 – instead.  Don’t forget to do this!

Breakfast itself was perfectly acceptable for a Holiday Inn-style hotel, with a decent selection of cereals, pastries and hot items.  See:

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

and

Review Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow Terminal 2

It isn’t life changing, however, and if you have airport lounge access then I certainly wouldn’t bother paying to eat breakfast in the hotel.

Conclusion

What did I think of the Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Terminal 2?  I’m in two minds, to be honest.

The key positive points are a) that the hotel is brand new, so everything is modern and fresh and b) it is directly connected to Terminal 2, saving the cost and time of taking the Hotel Hoppa bus.

At £90 – and I’ve seen it as low as £80 – it is good value for money, although you can pay nearer £140 on many nights.

Arora, who own it (and who also own the Sofitel Terminal 5 and the combined Crowne Plaza / Holiday Inn Express in Terminal 4) could have done better.  The room decoration scheme is too dull and the restaurant should be on the roof.  Some Vodafone mobile phone reception would be handy too, as would not having housekeeping banging on my door at 8.45am – especially as reception had asked me when I was leaving and I said 10am.

Having said all that ….. if you are flying from Terminal 2, it isn’t worth staying at one of the other hotels just to avoid this place.  The staff are very pleasant, the restaurant and bar are smart and the soundproofing is exceptional.  Don’t expect to be blown away though.

The good news is that, following the burst of recent activity, we now have a lot of good hotels directly connected to Heathrow’s terminals.  

Whilst the Sofitel in T5 is a premium 5-star product, Terminal 4 has a new-ish Premier Inn T4 (reviewed here) and Holiday Inn Express T4 (reviewed here) together with the upper-midscale Crowne Plaza T4 (reviewed here) and the old Hilton T4 (reviewed here).  Terminal 3 will soon have the very-much-delayed Aerotel from Plaza Premium directly in the arrivals hall.

There are very few airports which have so many different hotels directly linked to their terminals, especially at lower price points, which is good news for everyone using Heathrow.

The Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Terminal 2 website is here if you want to book or find out more.

(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. marcw says:

    It’s just an airport hotel.

  2. Oh! Matron! says:

    Couple of things:

    18C is not aggressive: How cold I can get a hotel room is one of my yardsticks of the measure of a hotel

    You don’t have to select your MyWay benefits 24 hours before. The desk normally ask you when you check in as to whether you want the extra points or breakfast

    Lastly, never underestimate the utility of a laundry: None of us here represent the demographic of your average “staying overnight at an airport”.

    Given all of that, this looks to be a lesser version of the HGI Hatton Cross. Which is much cheaper too: So, for the sake of a quick underground trip, I’d stay there rather than T2 HGI

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Must admit I agree re temperature, I do the same – my aim in a hotel room is to get it ice cold, and that’s a measure of how good the room is.

    • Harry T says:

      I want to be punched in the face by the air con. A cold room helps me sleep.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I hate nothing more than an Ice cold room. 22-24 so i can walk around without shivering.

    • Lady London says:

      +1. Either of the IHG options seemed much better. Plus there’s the new IHG Staybridge and HIX on the Bath Road opposite the airport if you can sort out a bus to get there (not the Hoppa which is a complete rip-off).

      Don’t Hilton Garden Inns normally have a laundry? Positioning wise I’d say Hilton intends HGI to be half a star or so above a Hampton. But lots of HGI’s seem to have been taken from other brands and not built new as Rob says, so physically across the brand hotels seem less consistent.

      I quite like the Hilton at MXP or rather, reasonably near MXP, with a free shuttle, and they definitely do honour status (and they tell you so when you check in).

      • Nothing worse when the aircon does not go below 20 in a room. +1 for the cold options.

      • Lady London says:

        Sorry i meant as well as the laundry, dont Garden Inns normally have a gym?

        • Oh! Matron! says:

          I’d say so. HGI Hatton X has a (decent) gym next to the laundry: I’ve spent many a time in there whilst doing the laundry (I was between houses for a month a couple of years ago, and work was just a mile away)

      • Lady London says:

        *HGI at MXP not Hilton

      • Yes, it has a laundry room.

  3. pixielott46 says:

    upgraded rooms isnt a diamond benefit at hilton garden inn, read the terms and conditions.

    • pixielott46 says:

      The following brands do not offer complimentary upgrades: Embassy Suites™, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hampton by Hilton™, Tru by Hilton™, Homewood Suites by Hilton®, Home2 Suites by Hilton®, and Hilton Grand Vacations®.

      • RedEyeDonkey says:

        But some hotels in those brands are nice to you anyway. Hampton by Hilton Gatwick upgraded me slightly as Diamond to a corner room which was great as we were meeting family also staying in another room, and we could hang out in our room and the kids had a lot of extra space to play in.

        I totally agree with Rob, there’s a difference between not doing meaningful upgrades at all and at least making sure Diamonds have the better rooms in the ‘class’.

        Though I also agree 100% that you’re correct that they don’t have to do anything it’s definitely a reason for Diamonds to skip on the hotel. Even as a mere credit card Platinum the new Crowne Plaza T4 (which also doesn’t have to) upgraded me to an executive room on my most recent stay… definitely a bonus point for that.

        • Lady London says:

          Hamptons I’ve stayed in definitely do allocate the better rooms according to status if they can. This in 4 countries so far.

          • Lady London says:

            PS The Hampton in Hamburg is quite good if you ever get fed up with the Park Hyatt, Rob 🙂

          • Just booked 4 nights at the PH as it happens – guaranteed suite upgrade with Emyr due to the ‘guaranteed upgrade at time of booking’ for Hyatt Prive guests, so you just book one level below a suite.

            Hampton is also pricier, I imagine, for 1 night. Emyr gets you free breakfast, guaranteed upgrade AND €100 of in-hotel credit against a typical room rate of €200. Use Amex FHR and you get 4pm guaranteed check out too 🙂

          • Lady London says:

            Wish I’d known that when i was working there 🙂

      • sunguy says:

        I have been given “upgrades” in the past at at least 3 of these brands: Embassy Suites™, Hilton Garden Inn®, Hampton by Hilton™ – but usually in the USA. HGI tend not to have any different rooms – they tend to be all the same…just “preferred room locations”. Hamptons ofthen have something similar – its not really an upgrade per se…though some of the older Hamptons in the US have suites (like 1 maybe 2 per hotel) – which Ive also managed to snag as a Gold….so for a Diamond to be given this type of room completely reaks of someone either having a bad day or not trained or just couldnt be bothered…..OR….(extraordinarilly unlikely) the hotel was “full” – ie. uncleaned rooms, rooms not finished and available for use or with problems still being rectified plus rooms already alocated.

    • So it is …. learn something new every day. However, that does NOT excuse allocating a standard room on the worst floor when you just as easily allocate a standard room on the top floor.

      • On the top floor presumably adjacent to the construction for the roof top bar?

      • pauldb says:

        They sell the high floor rooms at a premium, so I guess “a standard room on the top floor[s]” doesn’t technically exist.

        • Lady London says:

          In that case Rob has been a hero. He booked a Standard Room so he could review what the rest of us get.

    • Brian W says:

      May not be a guaranteed benefit but I get upgraded to a better room at the HGI Doncaster racecourse every week unless they are completely full.

  4. Premgenius says:

    @Rob Suggest enabling WiFi calling on your iPhone (https://www.vodafone.co.uk/network/calling-features/wi-fi-calling)

    Vodafone, EE, O2, Three, Sky Mobile, BT Mobile all offer WiFi calling for the other readers who may not be aware of this feature. You’ll need to make sure you have a compatible handset and update to date software. Make sure to backup before updating the software.

  5. The site the hotel now occupies used to be the motorcycle parking for T2 🙂

  6. I beat you to it as I was flying from T3 earlier this month! Looks like the signage has improved now, the yellow Heathrow signs were not showing the hotel at this point just the car park although you could see the hotel entrance as soon as you’re in the car park.

    I found the room acceptable and I did get a runway view. I think I paid extra, it was £121.80 in total which is reasonable for a hotel co close to the terminal.

    Didn’t try breakfast, very early flight so used the CX lounge instead. Getting to T3 is easy as it’s connected via underground tunnels (I never checked if there’s a walking route on the level but I don’t think there is.

    I enjoyed my meal in the restaurant in the evening, but as the hotel was new the staff were getting up to speed and some errors were made. One of these being someone took away my wine glass saying that it was a different glass to the one for my kind of wine only for the person bringing the wine to give me the same glass! Still it was only days old at the time.

    I chose the restaurant as the menu for the bar had fewer interesting options.

    I never even thought about the room design being boring, but now you mention it I think you’re right. The main thing though is I had a good sleep which means I must have been happy with the bed and the soundproofing.

    Signal on EE was no better, but I could use EE WifiCall when connected to the hotel WiFi.

    I’d definitely use it again, if the price is right (same or cheaper than HGI Hatton Cross) then I’d also use it for T5.

    I looked at Google Maps and Apple Maps (which often uses older satellite imagery) and the location of the hotel looks like it used to be empty space according to the imagery on Apple Maps. Whether that empty space was designed for a hotel I’m not sure, but looking at the course of the roads it looks like the space was left for something.

    What’s annoying is Heathrow’s least useful terminal (T4) has the largest collection of hotels directly connected to it.

    I like the idea of a laundry in a hotel and that does seem to be a standard in HGI. It’s nice to use the hotel laundry service to things like shirts which you get back ironed, but adds up for things like underwear and more costly if you use the gym and have gym stuff to wash too. It’s nice just being able to throw those items in the self service.

  7. Worth noting that if flying HBO into another terminal, you can use the airside connections bus to land yourself at T2, which would be much easier than getting there landside. From T5 you can catch this at both A main area and the B satellite.

    And why anyone would pay £15.50 for fish and chips with a view of a road when a quick 3 minute walk back into the terminal would give you access to the best ‘view from a Spoons’ in the country.

    • Er, ‘cos we were reviewing it?!

      • Gerry says:

        Hi Rob. I have booked the T5 Sofitel for a stopover night in October. I searched HfP for a review as you seem to have been to every other hotel at LHR, but no review could I find. Is there a reason for this, or am I searching in the wrong place?

        • Never done one! It’s not ‘news’, they have never offered us a free night and we can’t do it on points easily. The premium price means it always seemed like a bit of an expensive editorial piece.

        • It’s great, cant fault it (except the time they had no internet , that sucked)

    • Michael Jennings says:

      Somebody with poor mobility. Someone travelling with an expense account who doesn’t care that much about the price but who does care about the quality of the food. Someone who is simply very tired and just wants to eat and go to bed with minimal fuss. All the normal reasons why someone might eat in a restaurant in an airport hotel, or indeed any other three star hotel.

      • Valid reasons for other hotels but I’d just eat at the airport terminal in this case.

    • David says:

      When you don’t want to give money to a gammon

  8. Nick Burch says:

    The HGI / Hampton distinction is a bit blury in Europe with lots of new ones of both, you feel it more in the states with older properties!

    I generally find that an HGI breakfast is noticeably better than a Hampton one – Hamptons tend more to Holiday Inn Express levels. HGI should generally have a better restaurant and better food in the evening, though the odd Hampton will go the extra mile because of unusual demographics of guests.

    Otherwise, HGI gets you the empty fridge, which is moderately common elsewhere in the states, but I find quite unusual over here. HGI also means a guest laundry (handy on longer trips), and I believe the minimum size for the gym is bigger than a Hampton.

    Both allow for the loud in-room huge wall-mounted air conditioning units, which more up-scale brands don’t, but it tends to be older US properties where you’ll get hit with one of those

    Oh, and that room is the “new-style HGI room”, which thankfully has the desk put back – the prototype rooms didn’t and everyone who stayed in them complained… Expect any new HGIs to look like that (more wood, wardrobe open etc)

    • I think the HGI has room service too, whereas Hamptons generally do not

    • I find European Hamptons breakfast to be miles ahead of HIX.

      • Lady London says:

        +1. If there are any HIX in Europe with décent breakfast then I’d like to know.

        Having said that i do seem to remember they had streaky bacon at the HIX West Ealing. Cant remember any eggs though.

    • Pangolin says:

      I agree. My experience is that the breakfast in HGI is definitely a notch above Hamptons in continental Europe. For me, the breakfast offering at most Hamptons is more or less inedible, whereas I’ve had plenty of decent meals at HGI.

      Breakfast aside, HGI seems less depressing than Hampton (which remind me of HIX).

  9. I avoid the Bath Road hotels because of the hassle getting there and back. So hotels attached to terminals are grest and, while T4 and T5 have several, I believe this is the first for T1, T2 and T3.

    Don’t care about the room in an airport hotel but a welcome lobby and decent bar/restaurant are always welcome.

    And you can almost always order restaurant meals at the bar in most hotels, which is what I do if I am on my own. Don’t like sitting in a restaurant on my own.

  10. RussellH says:

    Re: difference between HGI and Hampton: I thought that HGI did have a proper restaurant, while Hampton just has a bar area with a very limited snacks menu. Certainly that is how it has been in my (very limited) experience.

    And as for Hampton v. HIE – at least in Newcastle, 20 000points at Hampton v 25 000 at HIE is no contest. Hampton is newer, nicer rooms, significantly better breakfast, much easier to find, closer to our preferred restaurants. HIE does give even Gold a free beer or wine, though, while Gold at Hampton just gets a free soft drink. And the staff at Hampton are surprisingly grumpy.

  11. RussellH says:

    I know that I am late here today (always the case on a Wed), but to me, 18 degrees is hot for a bedroom. 22 degrees is seriously unpleasantly hot. 16 degrees is the warmest I would want a bedroom. I cannot see a blast of 18 degree air as cold!
    One of the reasons we prefer low floors is that hot air rises, so higher up rooms tend to be hotter than lower ones.

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