With a flight scheduled to arrive at Gatwick Airport just after 11pm my primary concern was getting to a hotel bed quickly. I took Norwegian’s daytime flight over from JFK and wasn’t necessarily tired but my best chance for beating jetlag was to be asleep ASAP so dealing with shuttle buses or even wandering out of the terminal were low on my list of good ideas. Fortunately Gatwick has a pair of hotel options in the South Terminal, a Yotel and a BLOC Hotel. I did the Yotel at Heathrow earlier in the year so I decided to try BLOC this time. Mostly a solid stay and a couple neat options in the booking path, but don’t be fooled by the “Best rate guarantee” the hotel offers.
When booking a very basic room I generally expect a very basic room. That’s exactly what I got. I managed to nearly fit the entire room in a single photo without resorting to a panorama. I wouldn’t want to squeeze two people into the space, but for one person it was just fine for sleeping.
The bed takes up the far wall when you walk in and the bathroom is in the corner by the door, basically the same layout as every other basic hotel ever. The main difference is that the room is only as wide as the bed. Just enough space to store a suitcase and a hook to hang up some clothes to skip the wrinkles but not much else. No phone for a wake-up call, though the hotel does offer customer service via WhatsApp and a phone in the elevator/lift lobby.
It is also a wet bathroom, so the toilet/sink are pretty much in the shower. I don’t particularly love that layout but I only used the shower once and then checked out of the room so I didn’t have to worry about it not drying quickly enough. Again, functional enough to make things work for a quick, cheap(ish) night.
I chose a no windows room, mostly because I wanted to be sure it was fully dark for my full sleep duration. I happened to walk by one of the windowed rooms as I was leaving and it did have a view of the airport, though the best view of the planes I saw was from the end of my hallway. Presumably one of the even higher priced rooms comes with that view as well.
In an industry that thrives on ancillary sales the BLOC hotel at Gatwick is no exception. There’s a parking option available and, more interesting to me, a breakfast pre-booking. The breakfast deal works with a couple of the restaurants in the terminals (but make sure of which terminal your flight is departing from!) to deliver either a continental or full breakfast option, inside or outside security, prepaid as part of the room booking. I did not compare prices to the regular menus in the terminal but the option for the booking was well designed and implemented in the room reservation process, assuming one books directly with the hotel.
I ended up not booking direct because the Best Rate Guarantee was anything but.
Thanks to my excessive desire to compare prices, tweak and over-plan pretty much every step of a hotel booking I came to discover that the room rate available via hotels.com was cheaper (even including the extra fees/taxes) than booking direct with the hotel. I took advantage of the chat option on the site to ask about a price match, figuring that a direct booking can have some advantages. I was redirected to an email address that I expected to be unmonitored on the weekend. I was wrong about that and, having presented the details of the cheaper price I was given a coupon code to use that would drop the direct booking rate. Problem is that even with the coupon the rate didn’t drop enough.
Putting aside the hotels.com rewards and cash-back option for the booking I was still $10 ahead booking through the OTA. When I asked about this during the process I was told that direct bookings have the advantage of being first in line for any potential Op-Ups so I should consider that worth the extra cash. I declined that opportunity.
Would I book it again? As a solo traveler with a late arrival or early morning departure, probably. The price was right and it was plenty comfortable. Plus, I’m mostly about location when it comes to hotels and the convenience here cannot be beat. But I’d definitely be shopping around to make sure I get the right price.
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