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Review: the Crowne Plaza hotel at London Heathrow Terminal 4

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This is my review of the Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel.

The Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 opened in 2018.  It shares a building with the Holiday Inn Express London Heathrow Terminal 4 and the two hotels have 700 rooms combined. It represented a chunky £80m investment by Arora Group, which also own the Sofitel Heathrow Terminal 5 amongst other properties.

I first stayed here just after opening in 2018. In recent weeks I stayed in both hotels – it was my first time in the Holiday Inn Express side – and got to see what, if anything has changed. We’re running the reviews back to back this weekend because so many facilities are shared. I paid cash for both nights.

We also recently re-reviewed the Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 hotel – see here.

Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4

‘Two in one’ hotels are becoming more common

‘Two in one’ hotels, where one building contains two properties owned by the same group, are becoming more prevalent.  IHG has a joint Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn on Bath Road which is also relatively new.  There is logic to it – you can justify a bigger building on scarce airport land, and there are cost savings to be had behind the scenes.

‘Two in one’ hotels vary in terms of how many, if any, facilities are shared. This Terminal 4 development is the most integrated I have ever seen – only time will tell if the Crowne Plaza suffers because of this, because you can pay less for a Holiday Inn Express bed and still use the same restaurant and bar, plus get free breakfast.  I’m getting ahead of myself though ….

Getting to the Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4

You access the hotel via the Departures level at Heathrow Terminal 4.  (Don’t go to Arrivals if arriving by tube or train, despite some signage encouraging it.)

If you have ever stayed at the Hilton Terminal 4 (review) or Premier Inn Terminal 4 (review) you will know the gangway that leads from the terminal to the hotels:

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel tunnel

If you taking the tube or Elizabeth line from Central London, make sure you get a Terminal 4 train – not all stop there.  If you take the Heathrow Express, you need to change at Terminal 2/3 for an Elizabeth line train to Terminal 4.

Getting to Terminal 5 from these hotels is a bit messy, unfortunately – it is also a quite a distance if you look at a map.  You need to take the train or tube via Terminals 2/3.  Other options are the Hotel Hoppa bus or one of the local buses that stop nearby.  The hotel can also order you a taxi.

The Crowne Plaza Terminal 4 is the first hotel on the gangway.  You save a couple of minutes compared to walking to the Hilton or Premier Inn.

My room

One benefit of having a Holiday Inn Express in the same building is that the Crowne Plaza has had to invest in good quality rooms to stop guests trading down.  As you can see, they are classy:

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 bedroom

There are not huge, however, and there isn’t a lot of difference in terms of space between the two hotels.  The two key things you get in the Crowne Plaza and don’t get in the Holiday Inn Express are a bath tub and a full size desk.

The little things are all there – individual reading lights, USB sockets by the bed, a variety of pillow types, a coffee machine, a robe in the wardrobe etc.

What you don’t get is anything with a big ‘wow’ factor. Whilst the room delivered everything I would expect from a Crowne Plaza, it doesn’t go above and beyond. I would have liked something – anything – special to make me feel that the premium over the Holiday Inn Express was worth it. Even the throw on the bed had disappeared since my last visit.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bedroom

The standard rooms only sleep two people.  For a family, I would recommend a suite which is about 75% more expensive than a room but has a capacity of four people, as long as two are children under 12.

The fruit bowl and box of chocolates I received when I stayed here back in 2018 were absent. Whether this is covid or costcutting is not clear but it removed another reason to stay here vs the Holiday Inn Express side.

I did have a coffee machine in my room. Last time I stayed here these were not in the standard rooms (I had a Club room here) so you may not get one. All rooms have a kettle, two packets of biscuits (including Biscoff!), tea, coffee and two free bottles of water.

There is a fridge in the room, but it is empty – no mini-bar here.

If you need to work, this is where the Crowne Plaza scores over the Holiday Inn Express with a good sized desk complete with power sockets and a decent light.  Wi-fi was free and of excellent quality, although I struggled to get a good Vodafone calling signal on my phone.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 desk in room

Bathrooms at Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4

The bathroom had some snazzy silver tiling.  There was only one sink.

Toiletries were the standard Crowne Plaza ‘Antipodes’ brand in refillable bottles. I felt that the security put in place to stop these bottles being stolen (they are basically bolted down so you can’t pick the bottles up) was a bit pathetic in what is meant to be a premium hotel.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel

You get a big shower with a choice of rainfall or traditional water jets. You also get a totally separate bath. Full credit to the hotel here – it’s been a while since I stayed at a hotel with a bath and a standalone shower. There were also some additional toiletries beyond the usual, including lip balm and hand cream, plus a shower cap.

Views and noise

It goes without saying that soundproofing is EXCELLENT.  I did not hear any aircraft noise at all. 

In terms of views, some rooms directly face the Hilton Terminal 4 across the road which is quite an impressive bit of architecture by airport hotel standards. Others, including mine, look over the large model Qatar Airways aircraft on the approach road and the dull warehouses behind. Some rooms also face inwards over the atrium.

Let me show you how it looks inside.  The hotel is rhombus shaped.  Whilst both the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express have their own check-in areas and receptions, they share the lift bank.  Not only that, but each floor has a mix of Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express rooms.  You walk out of the lifts and turn one way for the CP and the other way for the Holiday Inn Express.

This is a view from the 6th floor, where I was, looking down on the Crowne Plaza lobby cafe:

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 cafe

Food and drink

Talking of the cafe, here is a shot from the ground floor:

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 lobby

Below is the bar.  This is an interesting arrangement.  The Holiday Inn Express side of the ground floor – the areas are separated by the lift lobby – has its own bar / restaurant which serves drinks and a standard Cafe Rouge-style food menu.

There is also, behind the lifts, a stand-alone bar with two doors – one on each brands ‘side’ of the ground floor – which is pictured below.  Whilst decoratively it looks more like the Crowne Plaza, it is open to all guests.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bar

Let’s talk about the club lounge

I had booked a club room so I could take a look at it, since IHG One Rewards status does not give you this automatically. You need to select an annual lounge pass as your milestone benefit after 40 nights. When I last stayed here, just after the hotel had opened, it wasn’t finished.

In truth, it was a waste of money.

Whilst open all day, the lounge only serves anything substantial between 6pm and 8pm. You can pick up ‘complimentary canapes and selected alcoholic beverages’ during this time. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the hotel then so I can’t tell you what it was, but judging by the size of the serving area it won’t have been much.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel lounge

There is no breakfast served in the lounge. You are sent to the main restaurant. Since I would have got free breakfast in the restaurant anyway due to my IHG One Rewards Diamond status, paying for a Club room turned out to be a bit pointless.

Whilst the spread is always bigger in the restaurant, I prefer lounge breakfasts because they are easier. I don’t feel worried if I leave my belongings to head to the food, and I will often pop in and out within five minutes if I’m busy. You can’t easily do this in a big buffet.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 club lounge

During the day, the lounge has a coffee machine as well as a fridge of soft drinks plus some crisps and biscuits. As you have a coffee machine, water and biscuits in your room, only the free soft drinks add value.

Frankly, if you have free breakfast via status, there is little point in paying the £30-£40 premium for a club room unless you plan to hit the evening canapes and drinks hard.

However, as restaurant breakfast is £18 for a full breakfast and £15 for a continental, a couple without top-tier IHG status may find the Club premium worth paying. For the same price as you’d pay for two breakfasts you also get some evening canapes and drinks throw in, plus a coffee machine in your room.

Restaurant

The main restaurant is called Urban. Whilst on the Crowne Plaza side, it is usable by guests at either hotel. Last time I stayed here I said that it was the best meal that I had ever had in an airport hotel. Sadly my schedule didn’t allow me to eat here this time so I can’t say if that is still the case.

I did see a menu. To be honest, the food was a lot less ambitious than what I ate four years ago.

The mains are a mix of crowd pleasers (fish and chips, palak paneer, murgh makhani, gnocchi, nasi goreng, chicken biryani, sirloin, peri peri chicken, pork belly, seared salmon, beef burgers) at between £14 and £22.

Urban isn’t open for lunch. Breakfast is served 6-10 (11am at weekends) and in the evening from 5.30pm until 10pm. Given that this is an airport hotel with people coming and going at all hours and in various states of jet lag, I would have expected a little more flexibility.

It’s a smart albeit windowless space as you can see:

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 urban restaurant

…. with a decent, although not life changing, buffet selection:

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Airport hotel Terminal 4 buffet

and

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 breakfast

It was very quiet when I went down at 9.30am – the room photo above wasn’t taken out of hours, it was taken during the breakfast service.

Gym

There are a couple of other facilities worth mentioning.  There is a gym in the basement.  This is ONLY for Crowne Plaza guests so don’t book into the Holiday Inn Express side if you want to exercise.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Airport Terminal 4 gym

There is a meeting room at the lobby level which can be booked even if you are not a guest.

Conclusion

The Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel is an impressive property by airport hotel standards.

And yet ….

I can’t deny that it isn’t as good as it was when it opened. It is still in excellent decorative order. However, some elements are clearly worse (a less ambitious restaurant, no bed throw, no fruit or chocolate in the room, bolted down bathroom toiletries) and I couldn’t find any real improvements.

The Club lounge adds very little, given that it doesn’t serve breakfast and has little available apart from a two hour evening window of canapes. Giving Club room guests free restaurant breakfast probably seemed generous but, now that top tier IHG One Rewards members get free breakfast anyway, it simply devalues the lounge offering further.

You can’t knock the value on off-peak nights

That said, I can’t argue that the £30-£40 premium for the Club lounge is worth paying if there are two of you and you would pay for breakfast anyway.

Whilst I have been a little critical here, I should also say that pricing is currently very low. I paid £195 for a Club room, but there are standard rooms from around £100 on some days in December. This is actually cheaper than it was four years ago, despite rampant inflation since then.

A typical £135 standard room, which is about average at present, is 21,000 IHG One Rewards points. This is 0.64p per point which is decent value and well above our 0.4p target.

Throw in the free breakfast that an IHG One Rewards Diamond Elite member would get, and the Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4 begins to look very good value. In fact, with the Elizabeth line whisking you from Terminal 4 to the West End in 40 minutes, it is arguably worth considering even if you are not flying anywhere.

Tomorrow I will share a few thoughts from my night in the Holiday Inn Express which shares the building.

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

The hotel website is here if you want to find out more.  You can compare and contrast with the Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 website which is here.

Our recent review of the adjacent Hilton London Heathrow Airport at Terminal 4 is here.

PS. Remember that the Crowne Plaza is taking part in the current ‘£75 cashback on £300 of IHG spend’ promotion which is currently running on many American Express cards.


IHG One Rewards update – January 2023:

Get bonus points: Click here for our article on IHG’s ‘2k Every 2 Nights’ promotion, which runs from 9th February 2023 to 14th April 2023. You can register here.

New to IHG One Rewards?  Read our overview of IHG One Rewards here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on ‘What are IHG One Rewards points worth?’ is here.

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Comments (96)

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

  • Blair Waldorf Salad says:

    I stayed here last month for the first time since Dec 2019. Sadly the breakfast, previously a surprise hit, had fallen flat. Bread was yesterday’s bake, bacon was fatty and cheap and the scrambled egg now the powdered version. I felt like I was in the HGI T2/3, so alike is the breakfast now. Same owners probably.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Same owners yes. They also own the Sofitel T5 which had a better breakfast when I tried it a few weeks ago. The HGI T2 breakfast seems to have dropped in quality since the pandemic which is a shame consider the prices have gone up.

      Now I’ve discovered how easy it is to get the bus from the T4 hotels to T5 I normally stay at the Hilton T4 which tends to be cheaper and comes with two hours free drinks in the lounge on an evening and a better breakfast in the morning. At the moment for a date I’m looking to book the T2 HGI is around £170 and the T4 Hilton £140. The HGI will end up over £200 when I add drinks and an evening meal whereas in the Hilton the lounge will likely cover my evening meal and drinks.

      When convenience is important the Sofitel is not much more in price to the HGI usually (around the £190 mark for the same date), has better food and without the temptation of the rooftop bar which I spend too much time in when staying at the HGI

    • Rob says:

      As you will see tomorrow it is literally the same hot items as the HIX gives away.

      Potentially this makes the HIX better than it would otherwise be and vice versa.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Do they check that you’re a HIX customer before letting you get your free breakfast? I know normally most HIX and Hamptons don’t check as everyone gets free breakfast but Is this still the case when it shares with another brand where breakfast isn’t free to all?

        • Rob says:

          Yes, there is a check.

          • Andrew J says:

            Depends on the time of the day and staffing levels, sometimes there’s someone at the door sometimes not.

        • John says:

          Surprisingly I have stayed at a lot of HIX and Hamptons that did ask for room number and checked it off a list before entering the breakfast area.

          It’s a bit annoying when they do this because I often plan to go twice (6-6.30 breakfast then 10-10.30 “lunch”) when the food is higher quality (of course sometimes it’s so crap I may just take a piece of bread and leave)

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    To add to my earlier reply to Geoff where he was mentioning how easy it is to get to T5 from these hotels.

    I started using the Hilton T4 when T4 (and therefore the tube station) was closed as I managed to book a ridiculously cheap night there then I discovered how easy it was to get the bus between the terminals.

    I think a lot of people are put off because they think it’s a pain to get to T5. It might not be Sofitel levels of ease but it’s still generally better than most other hotels.

    A lot of hotels have given up on lounge breakfast, whether it’s a temporary covid enhancement or permanent I don’t know. I mostly use Hilton and stayed in T4, T5, Bournemouth, Milan and Newcastle and none offer breakfast in the lounge anymore. If you’re entitled to lounge access either by a club room or status most hotels will include restaurant breakfast if lounge breakfast isn’t available.

    • John says:

      Lounge breakfast needs an extra staff member or three, and probably increases the wasted food by 25% or more

    • Geoff says:

      And it’s even easier coming back if, say, you have parked at T4 – just take the airside transfer bus to T4 and cross the border there.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Good idea. Although only when travelling with hand baggage otherwise you’re luggage will still be at the original terminal. As I mostly travel without hold luggage I can do this.

        • Geoff says:

          Good point!

          I reiterate the usability of the T4 hotels – but only if you know your way around.

          I ‘adopted’ a couple of weary travellers this week at the T5 transfer bus waiting area. They had various missed connections and cancellations, and had been given hotel vouchers by BA and told to wait ‘over there’ for the bus, they didn’t really know where to. Finding T4 arrivals from the transfer is not straightforward and of course there is lamentably little signage thereafter. The hotel voucher said something like ‘ARORAHIEXPT4’ so not particularly helpful. I’m guessing there were lots of similar cases (due fog) as there were separate dedicated check in lines at both HIX and CP for BA pax.

          • Save East Coast Rewards says:

            What’s the official way to get to these hotels if the airline issues a voucher? Does the voucher cover the Hoppa or are you supposed to claim reasonable costs back?

            I’ve only had BA offer me a voucher once and I was fortunate as it was for the Sofitel.

  • John T says:

    I would be fascinated to know the statistics of guest habits in an airport hotel like this. I assume:
    – At least 95% of guests only stay one night;
    – Most guests check-in after 6 p.m.; and
    – Most guests check-out before 8 a.m.

    It must make housekeeping a dream.

    I’ve never had dinner at an airport hotel, rarely even had a drink at the bar (because it is closing as I’m checking in) and never had breakfast because I’ve checked out before it starts. So all these features are never of interest to me. All I need is a quiet, comfy bed. I don’t even care about things like curtains/blinds because it’s rarely light when I’m in the room.

    Other than proximity and convenience to a terminal, there’s very little an airport hotel can offer that is of use to me to justify spending £200 a night compared with £100 a night.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      For multi night stays it must make a difference if the hotel is also convenient for anything else but the airport. About 10 years ago I had a contract in a location about 10 mins drive from MAN so I used to fly up, hire a car for a week and stay at either the airport Hilton (now a DT) or the Crowne Plaza as these were pretty much the most convenient options. Nearer to Heathrow I’ve stayed at the Hilton T5 when I’ve needed to be in Windsor.

      I’ve seen many busy bars, executive lounges and restaurants in airport hotels to show many don’t arrive late in leave early but I would expect the number that do are higher

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Dream for housekeeping, but nightmare for front desk staff thanks to late checkins and early checkouts.

      • John T says:

        Meh. Just staff your front desks higher in the evenings and early mornings, compared with late mornings and early afternoons at a traditional hotel.

    • John says:

      Yeah I don’t know why some airport hotels start breakfast so late. A lot of them start at 4am but no hot food until 6am.

      Though if my flight arrives at 10pm I may stay at a hotel and have breakfast as the “usual” time.

      On the other hand it’s so hard to find out when hotel breakfast starts on most hotel websites so nobody is going to pay £10-£15 extra if they can’t be sure they will be able to partake.

      • Tom says:

        Recently stayed at the Comfort Hotel at Stockholm ARN. Its restaurant opens for breakfast at 3 am! And stays open until 10 am

        I went twice!

    • HAM76 says:

      Many guests from the US book two nights and check in after arriving on the morning flight. Some don‘t even stay for the night, but connect to a evening flight into Europe. Last time I staid on the HIX side there was a large group of tourists that booked only one night. They learned the hard way that there is no early check-in at 11:00AM, because other tourists have been smarter.

  • dougzz99 says:

    I like the two hotels in one concept. The first time I saw it was an Ibis/Mercure in Caen. The bar was ‘Le Between’

  • Super Secret Stuff says:

    Just a comment on the taxi idea to other terminals, order it yourself. The company the HIX desk staff ordered one from was either:
    1) a complete scam charging £45 for a 2 mile journey
    2) staff overcharging you deliberately
    3) gives the hotel an awful lot of money and the hotel knowing orders you them to earn £££

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      Also thank goodness for paying on Amex! Raised a dispute with them

  • Derek Scott says:

    I’d be interested in the Sofitel Heathrow T5 being re-reviewed for your thoughts on the rooms. I stayed recently and feel it’s really let some standards slip… and the rooms are still practically the same since it opened. I think it’s getting tired and complacent.

    • Tom says:

      Yeah but on the other hand it is now barely more expensive than a crappy IHG hotel with a transfer.

      Cant beat that short walk to T5. First Wing then breakfast in the BA First lounge – bingo!

    • Rob says:

      We’ve never reviewed it, amazingly. I have however booked myself in for January because I have some expiring Accor suite upgrade vouchers and it’s triple points 🙂

  • E4 Traveller says:

    I liked the Crowne Plaza T4 when I stayed there on holiday earlier in the year but I agree that the restaurant isn’t great. When I’m travelling for work I prefer filling but healthy food, not Burger and Chip or Fish and Chips at high prices. But with the Premier Inn T4 nearby where with advance booking I can get a Premier Plus room with breakfast for £60 a night for a working week, I’m not tempted to go elsewhere in the area.

    I echo what people say about the 482 and 490 buses: very easy to get to or from T5 or Hatton Cross Tube.

    By the way, does the T4 walkway still have a “Trump 2024” sticker attached to the handrail?

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