TL;DR Excellent value for money, probably the cheapest multinational chain hotel you will find anywhere around the Heathrow area. Some suggested improvements related to safety though.
“Holiday Inn London – Heathrow Ariel” is a frequently used hotel for business travellers who need ease of access to Heathrow Airport but don't want to pay the slightly extortionate prices of the hotels directly connected to any terminal. To offset this ‘inconvenience' the hotels along Bath Road just along the northern boundary of the airport can offer some exceptional value in order to compete against them.
I also recently reviewed the Staybridge Suites London – Heathrow Bath Road a few hundred metres down the road last week if you want a direct comparison. I weigh up my opinions in my verdict at the end. Both stays were done in early February 2019, so the quoted prices may vary if you are reading this later.
I should also add that this Holiday Inn is one of the ‘secret gems' of those who plan Tier Point runs for British Airways or mattress runs to trigger IHG promotions such as the latest “Reward Nights. Faster.” promotion, as it is one the cheapest Holidays Inns anywhere in London on the weekends. Combined with the recent flash 30% discount I paid approximately £35 for a Friday night here. Total beginners to IHG should read my beginners' guide to IHG Rewards Club.
If you are coming by public transport you can take a free bus depending on your origin. If coming from…:
- Central London by tube on the Piccadilly Line, get off at Hatton Cross tube station and take a free bus, either the 285 (towards Terminal 1,2,3) or 423 (towards Terminal 5).
- Heathrow Terminal 1,2,3, go to the Central Bus Station and take bus 285 (towards Hatton Cross)
- Heathrow Terminal 4, take a free Heathrow Express train to Terminal 1,2,3 then take bus 285 (towards Hatton Cross)
- Heathrow Terminal 5, either take a free 423 bus (towards Hatton Cross) or take a free Heathrow Express to Terminal 1,2,3 and take bus 285 (towards Hatton Cross)
I arrived late on a Friday evening after dinner, around 10:30pm. So the distinct round shape of the Holiday Inn London – Heathrow Ariel was accentuated against the night sky.
The Lobby and check in
I was expecting something slightly different because their official website had a photo where the check in desk spanned about four times what it did, and a more natural timber colour rather than the part-black décor.
The reception area is not as large as I thought it would be, probably around 20-25m2. The boundary is the lifts you can see to the far right of the next photo, after which it goes towards the bar area.
The agent who checked me in was friendly and smily which was very welcome given my late hour of arrival and tiredness. As part of my IHG Platinum status I was offered 500 free points or a free drink and snacks at the bar. I chose the latter.
There are also a couple of computer terminals to check yourself in or out, presumably to help during the morning rush hours when people will be catching the first flights of the day.
Should you be parking a car here there are machines to take your payment. You can see the long-stay parking rates on the hotel's official website.
There is also Hotel Hoppa bus service ticket machine. Note this is different to the free bus service which I mentioned at the start of this post. You can actually get to any of the Heathrow terminals using free bus and tube which is actually quicker than Hotel Hoppa. See this post which includes our video of the journey.
Live Heathrow departures board to keep a track of your flight and some complimentary newspapers for you to take. The space behind is the restaurant area which was closed when I arrived. But I will cover this later in this article.
The lobby area merges into a bar area with conference facilities in the back which I did not access. The bar area is separate to the restaurant area.
For my free drink I was offered any of these draught beers and a packet of crisps. They were priced between £4.20-£4.80 for a pint (568ml).
Peeking inside the food menu
And the wine menu
There is also “business centre” comprising three workstations and two printers for you to use and print out anything you need.
My room was on the 3rd and top floor. I took the lift up, which I should add are the only lifts in this hotel…in case you end up with a room on the far side!
The hotel is ring shape is clearly visible when you exit the elevators and look towards its centre.
My room, number 314, with this mysterious sticker covering the “Executive Room” text.
Looking backwards to the room's entrance
There is this poster on the back of the room's door.
Trouser press, no doubt because of the amount of business travellers staying here.
Considering this is a minibar, the prices for the drinks were pretty reasonable. In other hotels you might expect around £3.50 for a 330ml can of coke, but here it was £2.
As it was dark when I checked in I could not really tell which direction my room was pointing. All I could tell was that it was an external room. As it turns out it was nearly due west. During the daytime I could just about see the northern runway 09L/27R.
The bathroom is quite small so I could not get everything into one picture.
I believe this door frame has seen better days.
I also checked the seal around the bathtub and the tile grout. This blemish in the corner was the only other I could see, which to me was acceptable given the condition of the rest of the bathroom.
Bathroom amenities on offer. I did also request a toothbrush and razor which I collected from the reception.
The internet speed was a moderate 18Mb/s upload and download. I have seen faster in hotels but I have also seen much slower. These results were measured using the standard wifi on my iPhone 8+.
As is normal given my mentality of safety, I took a good look at the evacuation plan and placement of fire extinguishers. Be warned that if you are hoping for a late check out on Fridays and expect to sleep in, you will likely be woken up by the fire alarm test.
There are plenty of foam fire extinguishers, maybe every 10-15 metres, though these are not marked on the evacuation map above which I find a little uneasy.
More worrying was that CO2 fire extinguishers were spaced quite far apart, approximately every 20-30 metres or quarter points of the hotel's circle. This is a large distance should you experience an electrical fire, which should not be extinguished with foam because it contains water, and you only have a few seconds to run to grab the extinguisher and come back. And if one extinguisher is not enough you have to run the other way to get another one!
Considering most hotel guests will probably not bother reading safety instructions after they check in, let alone when panicking during a fire, I imagine they would grab the nearest extinguisher. If I had one suggestion for the hotel, it would be to put more CO2 extinguishers in the corridors. (I know they are reading because I am sending this review to IHG's PR department, whether they like it or not!)
All extinguishers on level 3 had the correct pressures on the dials, giving me confidence that these had been adequately maintained.
The Dining Area
I did not have dinner at the hotel so cannot offer any comment. I did have breakfast in the morning though.
The sitting area is moderate sized and easy to access the serving counters. Note that half of the sitting area is stepped up which will be a problem if you are a wheelchair user. But there is plenty of space on the other half. You should probably ask the reception to reserve a table for you if need step-free access.
Buffet selection was of medium size, very much acceptable for a hotel of this level and price. There is a chef on standby if you want omelettes or eggs cooked in a particular way.
Hot food was still nice and hot when I picked up my breakfast. The serving plates (out of picture) were ambient temperature though.
The Cumberland sausages in the top left of the picture were nice too. Peppery and juicy inside. Bacon was a little on the dry and tough side for me, but these were also quite thick cuts which gives a satisfying chew if you like that kind of thing.
Variety of cereals and dried seeds and fruits.
Smoked ham, chorizo and salami with individual packaged cheddar and edam cheese sticks. Variety of fruit salads and milks to suit dietary or allergic requirements.
I had long heard about Holiday Inn London – Heathrow Ariel due to its popularity for racking up IHG points during promotions, but never stayed due to having a house living within 1 hour of public transport to Heathrow.
Given the price I paid there were few complaints. For a one night stay this is probably the one of the best value hotels around the Heathrow Airport area. If you need a multi-night stay though I highly suggest going down the road to Staybridge Suites instead.
As you would expect for a hotel that is right next to the runway, there is very strong soundproofing all round. There was a brief moment as I was checking in the last flight of the day was taking off and the front door opened briefly and the noise inside the lobby area was incredible, probably around 75-85dB (3dB represents a doubling of noise level, so the range I gave has a factor of 10 between lowest and highest) which is close to the threshold where employers need to provide hearing protection for employees. The moment the doors closed you could still hear the aircraft but you could easily talk over it. During the morning after checking out and waiting in the bar area I did not notice any planes at all.
If you want view of the runway you should request one of rooms 300, 302, 304, 306, 378, 380 or 384. You could see some of the runway from my room (314) but most of it is obscured.
I have outlined a couple of safety suggestions and maybe if the hotel wants to be thorough they can scrub the door frame near the hinges and the odd spot of tile grout. If IHG do provide me an official response regarding the extra CO2 fire extinguisher I will add it here, even if they decline to do anything about it.
Breakfast was acceptable, and since it was a buffet you could eat as much as you wanted. This normally costs £12.95 although you could get it cheaper if you book it as part of your room package.
Overall if you a looking for ‘cheap and cheerful' with good access to Heathrow Airport or you're simply here for the IHG points I definitely give this a thumbs up, even with its small imperfections. Their official website is here.
Has this review been helpful for you? Were you convinced to stay or put off by my review? Leave your comments below!