This is our review of the new Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel.
Over the Summer, big changes took place at the h-u-g-e Park Inn hotel at Heathrow Airport.
If you ever drive to Heathrow Terminal 2 or Terminal 3, you will know the Park Inn. It faces the roundabout where the huge Emirates A380 replica sits, just before you enter the tunnel.
The hotel was basically split into two. Part of it became the Radisson RED – see the website here – which I am reviewing today. The other, larger, part became a Radisson (NOT a Radisson Blu, but a Radisson – a brand usually only seen in the US). The Radisson website is here.
The old Park Inn had 895 rooms. The new Radisson RED has 258 rooms whilst the Radisson has 637 rooms. This means that that the changes are fairly cosmetic as there has been no attempt to knock rooms together or otherwise change the configuration.
Why open a Radisson RED in an ugly 1960’s low rise building?
I had absolutely no idea what Radisson RED was doing there. Radisson RED is meant to be for the cool kids, a cross between a Moxy and a Hotel Indigo, with funky bedrooms in converted historic buildings. I don’t think the words ‘hip’ or ‘funky’ could ever be used to describe the old Park Inn building.
I had to investigate, so I checked in. Let’s see what I found.
Getting to the Radisson RED at London Heathrow
Whilst, in theory, close to the terminals, you can’t walk there.
Regular readers will know that I refuse to pay £6 each way for the Hotel Hoppa shuttle bus, which in any event is only running once per hour at the moment from each terminal.
From the Central Bus Station at Terminal 2/3, jump on a 105 or 111 bus, both of which leave from the same stand. After a couple of stops you will pass the hotel on your left, and see an Esso garage approaching. Ring the bell and jump off – the stop is announced as Nene Road. It is only about 90 seconds walk back past the garage and through the car park to the reception. Local buses are free within the airport boundary so do NOT touch in with a payment card when you board.
First impressions …..
….. were mixed. The cheap Radisson side has smart white cladding:
…. whilst the posh / expensive / trendy etc Radisson RED side looks ugly as hell:
They have built this rather funky entrance, although when I arrived the effect was ruined by a group of German tourists on a Rosamund Pilcher tour sitting on it and smoking:
This was odd. When I have stayed in dual branded hotels in the past, they have either been totally separate (eg Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn at Heathrow) or at least had fully separate receptions (Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express at Terminal 4).
The Radisson and Radisson RED share the same reception. At no point during check in did the clerk mention which hotel I was in! It was a standard check-in and I was told my room was off to the left. Had I been in the cheaper Radisson part, I would have been sent to the right.
Was my status respected?
No. At no point was my Radisson Rewards Gold status acknowledged. I should have been upgraded, but given that I received a ground floor room facing directly into a wall, I will guess that I wasn’t. Given that I doubt the hotel was even 15% full this was impressive.
What is actually different between the two hotels?
It’s just …. weird. Everything – literally everything – is shared.
Only one restaurant is currently open for both hotels. The swimming pool (yes, it has a modest pool, far too small in reality for an 895 room hotel) and gym are shared. There is no lounge or special perks if you are in the RED side.
There is, on the cheap Radisson side, a large area with 4-5 vending machines, one of which even dispensed hot meals. I wasn’t told about this – I’m not sure if only Radisson guests are told, although anyone can use it.
I want to stress the lack of difference because, on the night I stayed, the Radisson RED was almost £40 more expensive than the Radisson:
Whilst I was in the hotel, I felt that I had been robbed. Why had I paid £39 more than guests on the other side?
My feelings have softened a little since I was there. RED rooms are, on paper, bigger than Radisson rooms (30 square metres vs 23 square metres). They are certainly better decorated, as we will come to in a minute.
If I was in a standard hotel and it was selling bigger and better decorated rooms for £39 more than standard rooms then that would be totally normal.
I also have no problems with Crowne Plaza Terminal 4 charging more than the Holiday Inn Express Terminal 4 – and that hotel mixes rooms from both brands on the same corridor! I think it is the lack of a separate reception and separate restaurants for each brand that made me feel I overpaid by going RED.
The rooms at Radisson RED London Heathrow
I had been given a ground floor room overlooking a wall, despite my Gold status. This meant that light was poor and I struggled to get decent photographs. There are two PR pictures higher up the page and they are a fair representation, although my room was smaller.
The bathroom was equally smart, with a grey / brown marble. The picture above the loo was of a typewriter, which was …. interesting. Toiletries came in squeezable non-plastic sachets, which was a novelty. There was only a shower – no bath.
In the bedroom there was a good sized desk with some more artwork above it:
However nice the room looked, it was let down by implementation. There was a cupboard for a minibar, but when I opened it ….. it was empty. I don’t mean the minibar was empty. I mean it wasn’t there.
There was the usual tea and coffee tray. However, there were no mugs. I had been given two paper cups instead. Classy. The coffee sachets were Tchibo which does not exactly justify a £39 room premium.
The public areas
The hotel does look good, I have to say. Remember that you get to see all this irrespective of whether you book the RED side or the cheaper Radisson side:
and (yes, they put a car in the lobby):
‘Hope and Glory’ restaurant
The owners have also put a lot of money into the refurbishment of the bar and restaurant. Unfortunately, their love of ‘bare bulbs’ lighting means that my photos were ruined, so here is a PR shot:
This is NOT your usual hotel ‘club sandwich’ food. The list of mains is:
- Superfood buddha bowl
- Fresh herb falafel
- Avocado on toast
- Caesar wedge salad
- Glorious cheeseburger
- Beetroot and kale
- Bucatini alla norma
There are also four stone baked pizzas to choose from, which is what I chose:
The second restaurant is currently closed. I was not in the hotel for breakfast as I had an early start at a Virgin Atlantic press event in Terminal 2 (report to follow).
It is now two weeks since my stay and I still don’t know what I think.
In terms of the rooms, restaurant and public areas, the Radisson RED is probably the most attractive hotel at London Heathrow. I know that’s a fairly low bar, but it does look good.
The hotel then ruined it by ignoring my elite status, giving me a room looking into a wall which blocked all my light, failing to supply a minibar or proper cups and – fundamentally – failing to justify the chunky price premium compared to the rooms on the other side of the reception desk.
Realistically, the hotel needs to separate the two hotels better. At the very least, there has to be something extra for RED guests. Whether that is a private lounge, a free mini bar, free breakfast or …. whatever ….. it needs something to create differentiation.
The good news ….. 5,000 bonus Radisson Rewards points
Until 31st December, Radisson Rewards is giving away 5,000 bonus points on every stay. This is on top of their generous 20 points per $1 of base earnings, plus any status bonus.
My stay – £114 plus dinner – netted over 9,000 points. At my standard valuation of 0.33p per Radisson Rewards point, I received £30-worth from my one night. You can’t argue with that sort of return.
Earning Radisson Rewards points via UK credit cards
As a reminder, you can earn Radisson Rewards points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards. These include:
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points (= 30,000 Radisson Rewards points) sign-up bonus
The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points (= 90,000 Radisson Rewards points) sign-up bonus
American Express Rewards credit card – 5,000 Membership Rewards points (= 15,000 Radisson Rewards points) sign-up bonus
It is worth noting that holders of The Platinum Card receive free Radisson Rewards Gold status for as long as they hold the card. It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.
Membership Rewards points convert at 1:3 into Radisson Rewards points which is a very attractive rate. The cards above all earn 1 Amex point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 3 Radisson Rewards 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 Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)