Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: Stansted Express returning to four trains per hour, Hilton opens its first Spark hotel

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

News in brief:

Stansted Express to return to four trains per hour

Back in May, Stansted Express resumed a ‘four trains per hour’ service during the morning and evening peaks for the first time since the pandemic.

This didn’t go down well with Stansted Airport, which made its disapproval known. It wanted a full 15-minute service throughout the day, with airport passenger numbers being virtually back to pre-pandemic levels.

Greater Anglia defended the ‘twice per hour’ service outside of peak periods because the new 12-carriage rolling stock from Swiss group Stadler has 80% more seats than the trains it replaced.

A full service is now returning

From 10th December, Greater Anglia will offer four Stansted Express trains per hour from London Liverpool Street.

Between Monday and Saturday, there will be departures every 15 minutes between 05.10 and 22.55. Coming from the airport, trains will run every 15 minutes between 06.00 and 23.59.

On a Sunday, the 15-minute service will operates between 06.10 and 22.55 from Liverpool Street and from 07.00 to 23.59 from Stansted.

Journey times at off-peak times will be marginally quicker, at 47 minutes, to take advantage of the new rolling stock.

Stansted Express to double peak period services from today

Hilton opens the first hotel under its new Spark brand

It is only four weeks since Hilton last launched a new hotel brand, with the opening of the first Tempo hotel in New York.

You can never have too many brands, it seems, and last week saw the opening of Hilton’s first Spark hotel. Unlike Tempo, Hilton settled for a more low key launch venue – the tourist centre of Mystic in Connecticut.

Spark is described as:

the premium economy hotel brand that proudly delivers reliable essentials with unexpected touches to make every guest feel valued

This is, basically, a cheaper version of a Hampton by Hilton. I suspect that if Hampton is Hilton’s Premier Inn then Spark is Hilton’s Travelodge.

The website uses phrases like “exceptional essentials at a budget-friendly price”, “affordable” and “practical”.

To be fair, looking at the room mock-up:

Hilton Spark bedroom

…. it seems perfectly acceptable. Even better, all bookings include breakfast. Well, not quite breakfast when you go into the details: “[vist the] bagel bar and [get a] freshly brewed coffee”.

All hotels have an on-site market and the lobby is designed as a social and working area.

It seems like a decent concept, especially as in theory it will be competing with a lot of very tired super-budget hotels. However, a quick look at the pricing shows that it ISN’T budget. On 18th October, for example, it is $207 vs $217 for Hilton Mystic and $248 for Hampton Mystic which doesn’t feel very “budget-friendly” or “premium economy” to me.

There is a dedicated Spark section on the Hilton website here.

Comments (19)

  • Peter says:

    “Unexpected touches” somehow reeks of involuntary sarcasm, along the lines of, so how will you disappoint me today?
    I wonder if it’s always graphic designers who text the marketing blurbs?

    • Dubious says:

      Sounds like they’ll be installing Japanese toilets! Either that or they’ll be some new hashtag movements!

  • X2000traveller says:

    And the Hamptons are a pretty uneven bunch as well.

    Sounds like this is essentially a Hamton minus the hot breakfast items (which are normally v basic).

  • ChasP says:

    As there are around 20 flights scheduled to land after 23:00 inct the last at 23:50
    How many passengers a day will miss the last train ?

    • Dubious says:

      I read the times in the article as the period of 15-minute frequency, rather than for all operations.

      The last train is currently scheduled to depart the airport at 23:59. I suspect (but maybe wrong – find out tomorrow) that there will be a subsequent train at 00:30 the next day.

      We don’t know for sure yet because the timetable for Monday 11 December is not released until tomorrow.

    • SamG says:

      Stansted also has a healthy set of coach operators and at that time of night there will likely be no traffic and the coach will drop you in London in a variety of locations which are likely more convenient for where you need to be than Liverpool St anyway.

      I usually used the coach for these dead early/late flights when I was a youngster (and Luton!)

      • ADS says:

        yes, when you just miss a train, and it’s a 30 minutes wait … usually quicker to check the National Express departures

      • Londonsteve says:

        Not only that but during the early hours the coach is virtually as fast as the train. The Stansted Express is a one trick pony: not very express services to Liverpool Street and Tottenham Hale (only useful if the tube is running or you live close to the station).

  • Chris R says:

    Perhaps Hilton should focus on improving consistency across their core brand first. Genuinely put off booking Hilton’s these days as I’m never sure as to the standard of the hotel

    • JDB says:

      All hotel brands need to pay more attention to their existing hotels, but the real focus currently is on more new brands/hotels so bad owners let hotels deteriorate and just rely on the brand. It will come back to Vite the brands eventually but currently it’s guests suffering. Marriott is seemingly the least bad with a certain element of discipline, but still not really very serious. Hotel owners get caught out on this when they seek to sell the hotel/transfer the contract when the brands will insist upon corrective measures where necessary before consenting.

  • The Original David says:

    Is the “Stansted Express” different from the regular Greater Anglia services, or are normal tickets (inc Railcards etc) valid on both?

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    I was in Liverpool Street on Friday getting the train to Harwich for the boat to Holland and I noticed the Stansted Express was leaving from the high numbered platforms when they always used to leave from the low numbered platforms. I don’t know if that was a one off or typical now.

    • John says:

      If you’re talking about the 1840 LST-SSD on Friday, it is normally scheduled for platform 5, but that was blocked (by a failed train?) so it was routed into platform 12

  • modestpointscollector says:

    The biggest issue with issue with the Stansted express is that it part of track seems to have faults on it constantly. I commute regularly on the Norwich line out of Liverpool St. which doesn’t seem to have nearly as many issues for some reason. We had a work colleague who used it (or tried to) regularly and he’s been stranded at Stansted or Liverpool St on a number of occasions, and had to catch an emergency Uber or try and bundle onto the National Express coach just to try and get home, and sometimes he’s just been stuck in London. Not sure if anyone has any figures but it puts me off using it as it’s just not that reliable.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.