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Review: the Holiday Inn Express London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel

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This is my review of the Holiday Inn Express London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel.

Yesterday I reviewed the Crowne Plaza London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel (click here). As part of our project to re-review all of the Terminal 4 hotels, I also spent a night recently at the Holiday Inn Express.  Both hotels share the same building and, interestingly, share many of the same facilities.

This poses an interesting question for potential guests.  The Holiday Inn Express is around £30-£40 per night cheaper than the Crowne Plaza.  Whilst the Express rooms are smaller, they are not so much smaller. 

Review Holiday Inn Express London Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel

More importantly:

  • both hotels share the same main bar (there is also a separate bar / casual dining restaurant on the Holiday Inn Express side)
  • guests at both hotels can eat at the Urban restaurant, even though it is nominally on the Crowne Plaza side
  • guests at both hotels can use the Crowne Plaza lobby level cafe
  • whilst the hotels have separate reception areas, they use the same bank of lifts and the hotels are not separated by floor.  Each floor contains both Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza rooms.
  • Holiday Inn Express guests get free breakfast in the Holiday Inn Express restaurant, whilst breakfast in the Crowne Plaza restaurant for their guests is £17.95 (traditional English) / £14.95 (continental) for adults

The only area that is strictly out of bounds to Holiday Inn Express guests is the gym, which is only for Crowne Plaza residents.

Even if you are looking for a ‘classy’ experience, I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to save £35 plus the cost of breakfast by staying in a Holiday Inn Express room.  You can use the saving to have a few drinks in the smart shared bar or to put towards a meal in the Urban restaurant.  You can read more about the bar and restaurant in my Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4 review here.

Back to the Holiday Inn Express Heathrow T4 …..

Access to the hotel is via the gangway from the Departures level of Terminal 4.  The same gangway also leads to the Hilton Terminal 4 (reviewed here) and the Premier Inn (review) but the Holiday Inn Express is the nearest.

I’m not going to repeat what I wrote yesterday about the shared bar and restaurant. This review just focuses on the differences between the two hotels.

This was my room:

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bedroom

It is smaller than the Crowne Plaza room although the circulation space is the same. The extra space at the Crowne Plaza is taken up with the desk and, in the bathroom, the separate bath – the Express is ‘shower only’.

Ignore the fact that I had a view over the atrium whilst my Crowne Plaza room had an external view. This is purely the luck of the draw – both hotels have a mix of interior and exterior facing rooms. You can debate whether, as a Diamond Elite member of IHG One Rewards, I should have been given an external view.

As you can see, there is nothing to complain about.  Everything still looks new, the bed is a decent size and there are plenty of sockets including a USB B. 

The throw on the bed and a decorative red pillow, both present when I toured the hotel in 2018, were gone, as also happened at the Crowne Plaza. The images on the hotel website still show these items.

There is also a chair and a small work table, with an adjacent plug:

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bedroom

The only major difference to the Crowne Plaza rooms is the lack of a formal desk.  You get a kettle with tea and coffee, as you do in the entry-level Crowne Plaza rooms. Unless things have changed since 2018, you only get a Nespresso machine in a Club room at the Crowne Plaza.

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bedroom

Heading into the bathroom, everything is almost spick and span.  There is less room around the edges of the sink than in the Crowne Plaza but that isn’t a major niggle.  Toiletries are from dispensers, branded ‘Soak’, but this is also the case in the Crowne Plaza.

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bathroom

The shower is also perfectly acceptable – it is a sign of how good ‘budget’ hotels are these days that the facilities are better than many of us have in our own homes. There is only one shower head – you need to head to a Crowne Plaza room if you want the option of a rainfall shower.

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bedroom

You don’t get a bath at the Holiday Inn Express. You need to be in a Crowne Plaza room for that.

My one niggle was that the base of the tap was noticeably grimy:

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel bathroom

This ‘hidden’ iron and ironing board is a useful touch – the mirror is on the other side.

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 hotel iron

Food and drink at Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4

Guests are welcome to use the smart ‘Destination’ bar, shared with the Crowne Plaza, and use the ‘Urban’ restaurant on the Crowne Plaza side.

The image below is the ‘Holiday Inn Express side’ of the lobby, although guests at either hotel can wander around all of the facilities. The HIX also has its own dedicated bar which is more casual and perhaps better suited to families with small children.

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 restaurant bar

I can imagine that some Crowne Plaza guests looking for a less formal or cheaper meal than offered at Urban end up on the Holiday Inn Express side.

I had fish and chips here, which came in at £14. It arrived in exactly five minutes (I checked the time on the receipt) which was a bit suspicious, but it did the job.

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4

Here’s the thing. A few feet away, in Urban on the Crowne Plaza side, fish and chips costs £20, not £14. The description is identical – cod, peas, tartare sauce, chips. It’s all very odd.

In general, main courses are cheaper on this side of the hotel at around £14.


Breakfast is your typical Holiday Inn Express buffet. Whilst the seating area is spacious, the buffet area itself is very tight and it wasn’t always easy to move around.

Interestingly, the hot items (sausage, egg, beans) are identical to those served for £18 at the Crowne Plaza restaurant next door. You can tell because both hotels serve a specific sort of Cumberland sausage which is shorter and wider than usual!

Holiday Inn Express heathrow terminal 4 hotel breakfast

There is a little more choice over at the Crowne Plaza but fundamentally there isn’t a lot of difference between the two breakfasts – apart from having your coffee waiter-served instead of self-serve, and of course the £18 per person price difference.

Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 breakfast buffet


I was very impressed by the Holiday Inn Express London Heathrow Terminal 4, as indeed I am in general by modern Holiday Inn Express – and Hilton’s equivalent Hampton – hotels. They offer a quality of budget accommodation which would have been unthinkable a generation ago.

The co-location with the Crowne Plaza offers the best of both worlds. You have high quality but low(er) cost rooms and the ability to use the more upmarket Crowne Plaza bar, restaurant and lobby cafe if you want to eat or drink in a smarter environment – although you will pay a premium for the privilege.

For cash, rooms are typically £100 midweek (free breakfast included) at the moment, compared to £140 (room only) at the Crowne Plaza. I have seen the gap as low as £17 (£83 vs £100). Whether you intend to stay for breakfast – and, if you do, whether you’d get it free at the Crowne Plaza as a Diamond Elite member of IHG One Rewards – is likely to sway your decision.

Redemptions on a typical night were 16,000 IHG One Rewards points vs £83 per cash, so 0.5p per point. A night at £106 was 17,000 points so the ‘price to points’ correlation is not straight line.

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

The Holiday Inn Express Heathrow Terminal 4 website is here if you want to find out more or to book.  The Crowne Plaza website is here for comparison and here is our Crowne Plaza Heathrow Terminal 4 review.

IHG One Rewards update – December 2023:

Get bonus points: Our article on IHG’s current bonus promotion is here. You will receive 2,000 bonus points for every two cash nights you stay until 31st December. Nights do not need to be consecutive. Click here to register.

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.

Buy points: If you need additional IHG One Rewards points, you can buy them here.

IHG is offering a 100% bonus (some members may be offered less) when you buy points by 30th December 2023. Click here to buy.

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

Comments (45)

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

  • Andrew J says:

    As I said yesterday, many of the HIX rooms which do face externally rather than the atrium, offer panoramic runway views, whereas none of the CP rooms do – a very strange decision by the hotel complex designers. TWA hotel at JFK charges are large premium for runway view rooms and it would have been a selling point for CP to sell club rooms with runway views.

    If fish and chips is you thing then it’s worth taking the 2 minute walk along to the Hilton where it’s really excellent and the atrium setting of the restaurant is very nice.

    • HAM76 says:

      HIX is also the only one with views of the Concorde…. As a Diamond I can usually choose what view I prefer, unless they are close to fully booked.

  • Barbs says:

    We stayed at HIX while T4 was closed, as it’s a convenient bus ride from T5 as well.

  • Richie says:

    The wash basin and mixer tap are very poor, too irritating for me, so I’d avoid and look at others.

  • vol says:

    Thanks for both articles, I had wondered what an earth the building sharing thing was all about!

  • Mayfair Mike says:

    Never bought into the concept of airport hotels…they seem one massive faff to me, for little gain.

    Usually people arrive late, have a pretty bland meal in a soulless restaurant, cannot drink too much at the bar because of the early start, then a wake up at some ungodly hour, miss breakfast if super early, then check out and a mission to get to the terminal with heavy luggage via buses/tubes/cabs etc in the dark and drizzle!
    Kids hate it/get bored and I just dislike having to unpack/lug a large suitcase again for the sake of “1 night”.

    Personally prefer to sleep comfortably in my own bed, eat in my own home, shower in my own bathroom, then have a smooth, quiet taxi or drive myself, on early empty roads. Only ever use LGW or LHR which are both sub 1 hour drive from the country.
    Much less groggy, kids easier to handle and breakfast in the airport or on the plane.

    I suppose only make sense if travelling very far to the LHR and no option to get an early flight…something I’d avoid generally as get the holiday/biz trip off to a messy start.

    • Richie says:

      You can walk to the terminal T4 from this hotel, so none of that bus faff that you describe.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        T4 is the least used terminal but it has the most hotels attached so we have to guess many are going to T5 (bus) or T2/T3 (train).

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      There’s many reasons to stay overnight particularly in a major hub like Heathrow. Some will be connecting flights the next day, also many people don’t live close to the airport. If I can get a couple of hours extra in bed because I don’t have to travel in the morning plus I get breakfast in the hotel or airport lounge then that’s great.

    • Benjamin Murphy-Ryan says:

      It’s really best option for those of us living further from LHR (1hr 45) or LGE (2hr 15h) by car as if any departures are earlier than 10am it’s going to be a crack of dawn start especially with family. We often stay at either Sofitel or HGI T2 at LHR before trips, can go down after dinner, watch some TV get up and not have risk of traffic etc – with at least an hour or so more sleep. My deciding factor is on-site hotel though – apart from occasional Hilton T5 then drive to T5, transfers are a pain so always choose those on airport (even if wrong terminal). Each to their own

    • HAM76 says:

      As I mentioned on yesterday’s article…. Many tourists from the US arrive in the morning with a connecting flight in the afternoon or evening. Because of that they have to book two nights instead of one without getting more than a few hours worth of sleep.

    • Alan says:

      Fine if you live close to the airport but otherwise they’ve got a pretty clear utility for those that don’t 😂

      • Fraser says:

        Yeah, what time should I book a taxi from Edinburgh for that morning LHR flight? 😂

    • Littlefish says:

      When I’m leaving an airport hotel at 5:30am for a morning flight, I’ve made the conscious decision not to have relied on a 04:30am taxi from home.
      The cost saved from the taxi, goes a long way to funding the better and longer sleep.
      With the family, its the other way round, we get the 04:30am taxi!
      Down route we mostly avoid airport hotels because car rental drop-offs allow better flexibility ususally.

    • E4 Traveller says:

      I’ve found the airport hotels can be a good base for a working week in London, if you’re willing to commute a bit and if your office is in SW London. Obviously it helps if LHR features at the start and end of the working week.

  • Froggitt says:

    “I can imagine that some Crowne Plaza guests looking for a less formal or cheaper meal than offered at Urban end up on the Holiday Inn Express side”

    And I can imagine some Crowne Plaza guests straying into the HIE for the free breakfast

  • Simon says:

    I am amazed at the importance bath reviews gave to the lack of scatter cushion and throw. In my mind these are just dust collectors which I suspect a lot of people throw off the bed when they sleep. I for one find them an inconvenience which I am happy to see no longer there.

    • Rob says:

      It was really there to show how the hotels have been cutting back on frills.

    • RussellH says:

      Absolutely delighted to see the back of the scatter cushions and throw I am sometimes tempted to throw them out of the window.
      Just utterly pointless clutter.

      • Greenpen says:

        I hate throws and cushions too! Throw them into the darkest corner of the room as soon as I arrive. Horrible dirty things, good riddance, it’s an improvement not cost cutting.

        • Bagoly says:

          Worst in really small rooms where there they then take up a material proportion of the space on the floor.
          But Rob’s point about frills (or maybe Covid issues) is worth making.

  • Geoff says:

    Another niggle at the HIX, which I don’t suppose you experienced, is the hairdryer/mirror setup. The socket is at ground level but the curly flex is not really long enough to reach head height. So you either kneel at the mirror, or plug in elsewhere and use the reflection in the TV!

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