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Review: the new and weird Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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This is our review of the new Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel.

Over the Summer, big changes took place at the huge 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.

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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.

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

…. whilst the posh / expensive / trendy etc Radisson RED side looks ugly as hell:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

Checking in

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:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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.

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

In the bedroom there was a good sized desk with some more artwork above it:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

and

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

and (yes, they put a car in the lobby):

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

‘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:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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:

Review Radisson RED London Heathrow hotel

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).

Conclusion

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.

You can read our full series of London airport hotel reviews here.

Booking

You can book the Radisson RED Heathrow here and the Radisson Heathrow here.


How to earn Radisson Rewards points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Radisson Rewards points and status from UK credit cards (August 2022)

Radisson Rewards does not have a dedicated UK credit card. However, you can earn Radisson Rewards points by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.

These cards earn Membership Rewards points:

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.

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:3 into Radisson Rewards points which is a very attractive rate.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 3 Radisson Rewards points.

Even better, 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 and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

(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 (71)

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

  • Tariq says:

    The paper cups could be a coronaphobic change – I can’t recall seeing a coffee mug in a hotel room for a while.

    I found that my Radisson status was ignored at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge last month too.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      The Hilton Vienna Riverside hotel I’m sitting in right now has proper cups in the rooms and also glasses for the minibar. Currently living in Italy there’s a lot more places I can travel to without quarantine on return, Austria being one of them.

      I have Radisson Gold, I’m assuming I got it from when I had Amex Platinum (I cancelled it in 2019 as I wasn’t travelling much that year). I never seemed to get special treatment as gold in the few Radisson hotels I’ve stayed in. Perhaps it’s about as valuable as IHG gold (or platinum) in this respect. Although many years ago I did get an upgrade as an IHG gold at the CP Marlow.

      • alex says:

        Radisson elite status is of very little value (like IHG) if you compare it to hyatt, hilton, marriott elite. The differences are huge ((suite upgrades, breakfast for 2, lounge access)!! Unless no other alternative hotel i wonder why any frequent traveller would even consider those programs.

        • Cam says:

          About the only benecit i have found from Radisson Gold status is the 15% F&B discount (but which doesn’t seem to apply to breakfast?!) and the bonus points. And a very nice welcome note at the Park Plaza Oslo Gardemon.

        • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

          I had about a 50% suite upgrade rate with Radisson Gold a few years ago back when it was Club Carlson and they still had the amazing weekend 241 rates. Agree though that it’s very lacklustre if the hotel isn’t feeling generous.

          • Rob says:

            I have also had some decent upgrades in the past but it has thinned in recent years.

        • Des says:

          Completely agree, 80%+ chance of an upgrade with my Hilton gold status, have never had an upgrade with Radisson gold in 20+ stays

          • Rob says:

            What’s odd is that virtually no-one has Radisson Plat, due to the high requirements, so a Gold is usually the top guest on any particular night.

        • Andy says:

          Why do people not get this? IHG and Radisson are all about collecting easy points and then redeeming them. They don’t pretend otherwise. If you want upgrades, breakfast, lounge access etc then these programmes are not for you!

          • C says:

            That’s the way I look at it. I [used to?] stay at Radissons on business in a few common destinations, where there were more to y taste or location than other options within our policy. While some had good features (e.g., great gym at the Radisson Blu in Bucharest), none was outstanding. The points are however useful, somehow. I currently see IHG is a better option–plenty of good quality Kimpton and Intercontinental properties in places I plan to go. Hilton tends to be too, well, Hilton to be exciting for redemptions.

          • HAM76 says:

            IHG Spire Ambassador here and I do get upgrades most of the time. Usually, its a room twice the size of a regular room for HI or a room on the top floor in HIE. On business trips I don‘t eat breakfast anyway… So for me its actually a nice program, but yes, it depends on how you travel.

    • Lady London says:

      Defo worth raising itas a polite question otherwise hotels will continue to make no effort when actually they still could.

  • Simon says:

    Paper cups in the Sofitel at T5 today. Even pre covid I did wonder how clean the real cups were as I imagine lots of just washed in the bathroom sink quickly.

    • Michael C says:

      Thanks for that image with my morning coffee, Simon! ;o))

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      At the Hilton in Vienna this week I’ve seen housekeeping take clean cups off their trolley and take away used ones. I’d hope a 5 star hotel like the Sofitel would ensure their cups are clean and not just run them under a tap in the bathroom.

      • Lady London says:

        Hmmm I always wash thoroughly any cupware and glassware in my room carefully before using it in a hotel of any level – that’s if I even use it.

        Worked in the trade when I was a student…

      • Lady London says:

        OT @SECR roughly which part of IT? planning to visit, is corona still disrupting things much there?

    • pixielott46 says:

      I understand that you are trying to review a normal check in so if the receptionist doesn’t note your status, you don’t remind them.

      You should actively remind them. It is more interesting for your readers to read about your upgrades (you may even sell some more credit cards with status). Just comes across as entitled and lazy.

      • ChrisW says:

        Agreed. Help people beat use their status!

        • Rob says:

          Am I acting like an average guest if I do that? Surely better to name and shame?

          Open question, not sure of the answer.

          • Sunguy says:

            I think its a bit of both…..

            On one hand – the receptionist might make an honest mistake, on the other, the hotel might just be being cheap.

            By not mentioning your status, you are getting the experience a less savvy traveler (or one that is too tired to care) would have – which means you are getting the experience that 90% of guests will get.

            This therefore serves as an honest review.

            However, most, if not all folks here would make some kind of comment about status – if not at checkin, sometime later, such as when we get to the [email protected] room……and see what happens next…..

            So, from a journalistic point of view, it certainly doesnt come across as entitled and lazy, it comes across as just seeing how the hotel is actually performing for the average guest.

            However, once allocated a rubbish location, if you have time, it might be worth going back and seeing what they are playing at ?

          • RussellH says:

            Another option would be to go back to reception later and remind them of one’s status. I have had to do that a couple of times after having realised that I failed to get a guaranteed, albeit minor but useful, benefit. Be polite and in my limited experience one gets a sincere apology and a slight improvement in the benefit.

          • Pangolin says:

            According to the Many Worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, there’s a parallel universe where Rob pulled a DYKWIA here when they didn’t give him a decent upgrade as a Gold.

          • cinereus says:

            Why can’t you do both?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Yeah why not. I was thanked for my loyalty this weekend but not given an automatic upgrade.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Sorry hit reply too early.

            I asked politely if there were any upgrades and was then found a higher room. I wouldn’t expect them to actually find one but I’d expect them to look.

          • Alan says:

            I suspect you’d be an average HfP guest 😉 I would certainly challenge them, either there or when I got to the room. TBH if I was given a rubbish room facing a wall I’d be asking reception for a new room status or not, but I appreciate not everyone would.

  • Steve says:

    Strange – I stayed at the Hotel & Conf and was also sent left. Vague mention of status as I did get an Airport View room and the water was present. Breakfast though was a paper bag with a croissant and an orange. I was leaving for the airport before breakfast had officially started.

    Far better was the Radisson Blu Edwardian, one stop up the road, where status was explicitly acknowledged with an upgrade and late checkout (and water). Price was £68 / £76 for a weekend night one week apart.

  • Goldmember says:

    I think paper cups and disposable plastic tumblers in the bathrooms stem from when Watchdog/Panorama conducted a cleanliness test on several top London hotels and the Radisson managed Mayfair went off the scale (bog brush around the sink anyone?) Ever since that aired they got so much stick (and rightly so) they went for plastic and paper disposables. I stayed in a £500pn Junior Suite at The Mayfair last year and 15+ years since the program aired they’re still using plastic in the name of hygiene. I’ve noticed other UK Radissons and Park Plazas do exactly the same so I just put it down to a group decision

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Of course another option in the name of hygiene instead of disposables would be to actually clean properly, I can’t say I’d accept disposable cups in a top hotel (outside of COVID times) simply because their excuse is they’re unwilling to clean adequately!

    • Mark says:

      Be suspicious of hotels that don’t have a tray of mugs on the housekeepers’ trolleys- this means the mugs are likely to be “washed” in the bathroom sink.

      • Lady London says:

        100%. In a good hotel, housekeeping will be taking all china, glasses snd utensils from each room down to the kitchen for kitchen to run through the dishwasher. New china, glasses, cups brought up from the kitchen and added to the housekeeping trolley.

        Even then I still thoroughly waah if using in the room or I keep any from room service and re-use

  • Frankie says:

    How was the pizza Rob? It doesn’t look the tastiest. Looks very bready with minimal toppings.

  • Paul says:

    My review of the Radisson Blu from a couple of weeks ago… not good…

    https://youtu.be/6SPsmzPW8B8

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Is there an actual Heathrow hotel from what you would consider a full service brand that isn’t shite? I’ve found the newer budget offerings to have cleaner nicer products but obviously no good if you are looking for something a little nicer to start off a trip.

      Bath road making way to 3rd runway makes you wonder if there will be a genuine step up with good new properties.

  • Brian says:

    Did you see the rooms in the Radisson, Rob?

  • Richmond_Surrey says:

    Considering number of hotels at Heathrow, only worst possible scenario of mass cancellations would make me choose Radiosson.

    • tony says:

      I’ve never stayed in a Radisson, but once attended a seminar in a meeting room of the Austin, TX property. All I can say is what an absolute dump the place was. I wonder if hotels have any grasp as to how people form their perceptions of the brand…

      • Rob says:

        Radisson (as opposed to Blu, Red, Collection) is a dump – this is why they rarely use the brand in Europe.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          I stayed in the Radisson Gdansk a few weeks ago. Practically brand new, and a very nice hotel. There’s a Radisson Blu five minutes walk away, so they possibly made the new hotel a vanilla Radisson to make it harder for people to confuse the two.

    • Rob says:

      It is very, very pleasant though, at least in terms of decoration.

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