A Review of Bloc Hotel, Gatwick Airport, South Terminal

Epilogue

Having spent most of my life either in London or just on the outskirts, an airport hotel is rarely an investment I have ever considered. With the combination of long stay airport car parks and the paternal generosity embodied in the numerous 4am airport drives my father so selflessly volunteered himself for when I was younger, I have always made the assumption that airport hotels are generally utilised by business folk and those who reside further afield.

sunset view from plane window seat
The Sunset View en route back to London

But after my recent early morning dramatics in New York (outlined here if you’re intrigued), I no longer felt I could be trusted to control my affairs in that ghostly quiet, pre-sunrise phase of the day and Bloc Hotel Gatwick came along to the rescue.

Bloc Hotel Gatwick Airport Blog Review

I had envisaged this post to be an ode to the relaxing, unwinding qualities of snoozing somewhere futuristic, sleek and oh-so-convenient the night before an early morning flight. I hoped that the airport hotel start to our Budapest trip would help iron out some of the exhaustion I had been experiencing from a seemingly endless string of 11-12 hour working days.

But then, the blogger Gods intervened and decided it all sounded a bit dull and that the entire plot needed a shake up, you know, just to help ruffle the writer’s block feathers plaguing my plume.

Let me tell you more…

Gatwick Airport terminal hotel
Gatwick Airport, like I’ve never seen it before

The Journey to London Gatwick

In a rare turn of events, that day, both Pumpkin and I were home from work by 7.45pm. Smugly patting ourselves on the back for finishing our packing earlier in the week, we should have made tracks straight away but leopards and spots have an age-old loyalty and somewhere in and amongst my mumbling about a missing eyeliner pencil, it ended up being 9pm before we actually left.

We must have only been about twenty minutes away from home in London when Pumpkin commented on the darkness engulfing the road ahead, questioning whether the headlights were working. Indicators were flicked, hazard lights turned on and a mile or so later, we pulled up at a service station to find his suspicions confirmed.

benefits of airport hotel stay

We rarely need the car at night and, as seasoned Londoners, we are clearly too conditioned to the illumination of street light, as this was the first we knew of this problem.

Out with the mellow, chilled out, night before plan then.

After a few frantic calls to breakdown services (my new heroes), we found ourselves huddled up in a cold car at the back of a service station car park doing what most would do to keep warm in this situation – dashing to McDonald’s for chips and lattes! It was the first time in nearly a year that we were getting our dirty paws into fast food but the timing had never felt more justified.

service station McDonalds A20

The breakdown chap (who looked half our age) got to work quite efficiently, tweaking bits of the car bonnet I wouldn’t even be able to name and making me realise just how useless my post-grad degree is at such moments; but more drama was to come still, when we got back on the road to get a phone call from that same hero, telling us he had left his other mobile phone in the bonnet!

Checking into Bloc Hotel, Gatwick Airport

When we finally arrived at Bloc Hotel London Gatwick, the ambience was so peaceful that the rhythmic ticking of the spearheaded clock-hands was audible – I guess that’s what happens when you check in at nearly midnight, a speedy, efficient and friendly process which took less than half a minute.

boutique hotel Gatwick Airport

Walking through an airport terminal with not a soul in the vicinity felt a little wrong but the sense of relief upon seeing the Bloc sign was immense.

We were home and dry and thanks to the positioning of this hotel, we were actually inside the Gatwick Airport South Terminal. Unlike so many other airport hotels, where you still need a car, taxi or shuttle bus to take you from your hotel to the terminal, Bloc Gatwick allows you to just roll out of bed and walk down to check in – which is exactly what we did but it was much more tolerable at 6.45am from the hotel room than it usually is at 4.45am from home.

best airport hotels Gatwick

Bloc Hotel Rooms

We walked into a modern room, awash with the kind of atmospheric purple lighting that was reminiscent of our wedding and we felt rather like we had landed on the set of a sci-fi film more than an actual hotel room. Floor space was limited but what they lack in square metres, they make up for in innovative design and generous numbers of fluffy pillows.

purple lighting decor Bloc Hotel

Even after the car dramas of the evening, we were determined not to just arrive at this hotel and fall asleep straight away and whilst I was playing around with the touch screen room controls, Pumpkin bagged himself a date with Roger Moore and Gloria Hendry for a bit of pre-holiday James Bond action.

room controls Bloc Hotels

Whilst I am not usually a James Bond fan, sinking under the duvet and curling up to a film was the perfect way to finally unwind (if only for about half an hour) at the end of an evening that hadn’t quite gone the way we expected.

Bloc Hotel Gatwick TV channels

If you’re an avid plane spotter, it is worth having a peek at the choice of rooms on offer at Bloc, as some of the larger ones afford impressive runway views. Frankly, our room could have had a view of paradise and I wouldn’t have known since we checked in when it was dark and in the morning, I was too busy hiding under the covers pretending not to hear the alarm, although Pumpkin did manage to sneak in a quick photo of the window view.

best London airport hotels

Our night at Bloc Hotel was intended to be a relaxing start to the day and whilst the car antics defied our de-stressing plan, I have to say that if there was ever a time for a first airport hotel stay, this surely was it. In fact, were it not for our stay at Bloc, we would have driven to the airport from home at around 4.30 am in the dark, discovered our headlight issue at that time of the morning and would almost inevitably have missed our flight. And furthermore, since we had an exciting Budapest food tour booked just a few hours after landing, that plan would have fallen flat on its face as well.

Bloc Hotel Gatwick bathrooms

In our particular situation, just over a week ago, the Bloc Gatwick stay didn’t just help us kick off our holiday but actually, for want of a better phrase, it very much ended up saving our bacon! I only wish we had been able to enjoy the hotel room awake for a little longer.

Bloc Hotels toiletries

I have taken away two valuable life lessons from this experience: (1) if you’re someone who doesn’t function well in the early hours or have a tendency to press snooze a dozen times, you need an airport hotel (2) always ALWAYS check your headlights before a long or important car journey.

Do you ever stay at airport hotels before heading on your travels? And have you ever had an eventful journey like this en route?

 

Disclaimer: We received a complimentary stay at Bloc Hotel Gatwick but at the end of an evening like this, one doesn’t have the energy to be anything but honest. All opinions, good or bad, are entirely my own.

27 thoughts on “A Review of Bloc Hotel, Gatwick Airport, South Terminal

  1. Sometimes you don’t want to leave things to chance – and staying at an airport hotel the night before makes really good sense, even if you live in the city! We’ve considered this when it snows in winter here. It rarely snows in Vancouver, so when it does, the city doesn’t know how to handle it and the streets are a mess – wouldn’t want to chance catching a taxi to the airport in the wee morning hours on icy roads then! Better to stay at the airport the night before and know we can catch our plane :-).

    And we’ll keep the Bloc Hotel in mind for London layovers. We’ve stayed at the Heathrow Sofitel when flying to Africa (very nice!). We’ve also tried those pods at Heathrow – interesting and they do the trick. The Bloc Hotel looks like a good recommendation if we go through Gatwick…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:23 pm

      Oh thanks for the heads up Janice & George as I had been looking up the Sofitel Heathrow once for a previous trip but didn’t need a hotel in the end but it’s great to hear you enjoyed it! In those snowy situations you described, I think I would definitely consider an airport hotel to be a sensible suggestion and it made me laugh a little when you said about how things become a mess when it shows in Vancouver because everything just falls to pieces when it shows here in England but we always refer back to Canada when we’re giving examples of countries that are so much better at maintaining normality even with heavy snow! :mrgreen:

  2. Sounds like you had a good stay despite the car troubles! I’ve only stayed at an airport hotel once, but it was a nice way to avoid waking up really early for a morning flight.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:25 pm

      Thanks Julie! I’m honestly not much of a morning person at the best of times but there’s something just a lot more palatable about setting the alarm for 6 something in the morning rather than 4 something!

  3. I often stay in Airport hotels because who wants to add a couple of hours of driving to a 12 hour flight? Even best when it’s connected to the airport – check out and just slip through the tunnel to the airline counter for checkin. I usually find I’m a lot less stressed when I do that.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:27 pm

      Absolutely! I completely agree Frank – this was the first time I’ve done it but I can’t even imagine how stressful the journey and day would have been if we’d left home by car in the early hours of the morning! When it comes to either a long distance flight or a really early morning flight, airport hotels can be a really nice way to unwind and start things off without too much of a frenzy! Thanks so much for reading ☺

  4. Oh dear Shikha what a horrid start! But this is why I love airport hotels so much so I’m glad to see you’ve now joined the club 🙂 Bloc is definitely my favourite airport hotel and those views of the runway are pretty spectacular. Shame you couldn’t bring yourself to get out of bed to look at them a bit more!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:30 pm

      Haha, I was still exhausted from the dramas of the night before! I’ve got to say, I took it in a much more adventure embracing spirit than I imagined I would’ve done – definitely jazzed up the plot of the blog post don’t you think?! :mrgreen: I just loved what a snazzy yet convenient hotel it is – it has totally spoiled me now for future early morning flights!

  5. Oh no Shikha, so sorry you had a bad start to the trip! Silver lining means that the rest will only feel all the better!

    crossinglemons.com

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:31 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind thoughts Sam! You were right though – the trip did only get a lot better after that journey! Sometimes I find these adventures make for the best travel stories later on down the line :mrgreen:

  6. Funnily enough we walked past Bloc Hotel on our last Gatwick trip a few weeks ago and were thinking how convenient it must be! Would certainly be keen to trial it for an upcoming trip. Sorry to hear about the car breakdown

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:33 pm

      Thanks Suze! Fortunately, it wasn’t more serious or bothersome to resolve so it ended up being a minor inconvenience and delay and at least it didn’t spoil the trip at all! Yes do give Bloc a go if you ever want to start your holiday a night early – the decor is so futuristic and you just can’t beat that inside terminal location!

  7. airport hotels. never considered them years ago, now for early flights or late arrivals they are a god send; I used to not blink an eyelid at the idea of staying overnight in an airport. Nowadays, I want my sleeeeep!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:44 pm

      I’m exactly the same Andy! Back in my student days, I’d have thought of airport hotels as such an unnecessary indulgence but I definitely am not the spring chicken I was back then and if a hotel like this buys me a couple of extra hours of shut eye, then I’m game! :mrgreen:

  8. It’s good that these are actually *in* the airport rather than the “airport hotels” which are usually anything but!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:47 pm

      EXACTLY Emma! If you’ve already forked out on an airport hotel for the convenience of needing to avoid early starts, cabs in the morning etc then it’s really just not the same if you end up needing to wake up early for the shuttle bus or cab from the airport hotel regardless!!

  9. I love airport hotels that have an internal connection to the airport! I’ve stayed at airport hotels a couple of times, on flights where layovers are not exactly connecting and require an overnight in the transit airport.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 3:53 pm

      Considering it was my first time at an airport hotel Jean, I think its “inside the terminal” location has totally spoilt me as now anything that requires a shuttle bus or car from hotel to terminal is going to seem inconvenient in comparison!

  10. Ohh my, what a night haha! Sorry to know that, but glad that everything worked out in the end.
    I have to say that here in Munich the airport isnt that far that we need to sleep at a hotel, but knowing London I would say that next time that’s exactly what I’m doing! I totally understand the reasons for staying in a hotel when your flight is early, way better!
    Also, this one seems awesome just for the fact that you don’t need any shuttle to the airport! That’s pretty cool! 😀

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 5:55 pm

      Haha, well you know Allane, technically London Gatwick isn’t actually in London hence why it’s also a bit of a trek to get to! It doesn’t usually take too long by car when there’s no traffic but it was nice not to have to set the alarm so early! :mrgreen:

      1. hahhaa yes! But honestly, apart from London City Airport, all the others are soo far away from the city that it makes total sense to stay at a near hotel, especially when the flight is early! Definitely a good idea 😀

  11. Oh my goodness, what a stressful start to your trip! But, like you say, the perfect night to stay in an airport hotel. So glad it all turned out well in the end. We’re always lazy and get a taxi to the airport, so we’re relying on someone else’s time-keeping! 😉

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) March 21, 2016 — 6:06 pm

      Haha, yes I keep thinking what a disaster it would have been if we had driven early in the morning like originally planned and only realised about our headlights at that stage Emily! If we do need to go at that hour again and aren’t staying in a hotel, I think I’ll follow your example and stick to cabs from now on!

  12. I keep toying with this idea as I have a tendency to book outrageously early flights. I think I’ll have to give it a whirl!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 21, 2016 — 2:17 am

      Yes it’s absolutely perfect for that Cass namely because it’s already inside the terminal and at that hour of the morning, every extra morning helps! :mrgreen: I have a tendency to often book very early flights too so I have a feeling I’ll be returning back here one day!

  13. I always check into an airport hotel, it makes life so much easier. Get a relaxing good night’s sleep and no need to panic about getting to the airport in time x

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) September 12, 2016 — 5:31 pm

      Yes – to all of those reasons Cheryl! I don’t know why I hadn’t done this before and if we hadn’t booked one on this occasion, we’ll have missed our flight and a pre booked food walk in Budapest! We’ve got another couple of really early morning flights coming up in the next 2 months and we’re already planning to book an airport hotel for those. 🙂

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