Monday, January 5, 2015
Travel Talk: Staying At An Airport Hotel
It's the first day back at work for a lot of us (me included) and I'm finding it just ever-so-slightly ... painful. Like, as in, I couldn't really open my eyes this morning and then, when I did, they hurt.
With this in mind, I'd like to rewind. Back before the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve, back before presents were ripped open on Christmas Day, back even before this whole concept of taking a break from London even began ... to somewhere between after I put my out-of-office on at work but before I stepped on BA Flight #53 to Seattle.
The day before we took off to the US, John and I were invited to his cousin's beautiful house in Boston Manor for a Christmas party, which happened to be not too far from Heathrow. Since we had a morning flight the next day, we decided to make the most of it by booking an airport hotel nearby. And since John left me in charge of choosing the hotel ... well, I searched for one with a spa.
Specifically, the Hilton at Heathrow Terminal 5. Easily the smartest travel decision I've ever made.
And folks, I can't recommend it enough - essentially, staying at an airport hotel is like starting your vacation early. With very little stress the next day. Vital point: very little stress. We went from our sleepy warm beds to that glass of champagne pictured above in the BA Gold Lounge (one of the perks of being married to a frequent - and I mean, FREQUENT - flier) in about 20 minutes flat. No joke.
Saturday night was mostly spent here:
I took full advantage of the steam room, sauna, and salt grotto (where salts are released into the air in the chamber, claiming to help ease migraines, headaches, and anxiety - perfect for those with pre-flight jitters like me) while John - being John - went a little crazy in the hydrotherapy pool and managed to injure his foot on a step (my level of sympathy for him varied between, "I'll go make you an ice-pack" to admonishments like, "I can't believe you did this. We haven't even started our vacation yet. This is so irresponsible. Why did you have to flop around like a dolphin in there? Why?").
Despite the minor first-world problem of injuring his foot in a spa (I repeat, in a spa), John and I had a positively luxurious evening chilling out and washing away the worries of London life, preparing instead for the holiday ahead.
After our spa excursion, John managed to limp to dinner at Mr. Todiwala's Kitchen - a delicious Indian restaurant named after its award-winning founder and chef, Cyrus Todiwala. Admittedly, I arrived at the restaurant expecting the same, soulless-bordering-on-tacky dining environment of many airport hotel restaurants but was quickly proven wrong when we were seated in the bustling, chic, and smartly decorated restaurant - complete with a superb view of the kitchen.
When I'm on vacation, I give myself a licence to (with limitations, of course!) basically do/eat/see whatever I want. And on this particular evening, I didn't want a standard curry with rice, so I went a little off-piste and decided to order off the menu (vegetable samosas, which were delicious), plus requested that the starter of scallops and peshwari naan arrive all at once, as my main course. Queen. For. A. Day (or all the time, depending on whom you talk to!).
After dinner, we walk/limped to our room, where the most comfortable king-sized bed (with big, fluffy pillows) awaited us and watched TV for an hour or so before dozing off. I must have been in a truly relaxed state, because when our alarm went off the next morning at 5:45 a.m. (which isn't even that early for me, and is considered "normal" or even late for John), I jumped out of bed and proceeded to wildly pace the room while not really accomplishing anything for about 10 minutes or so.
Soon, however, we quickly got our acts together and made it to the airport shuttle, which whisked us to Terminal 5 in a matter of minutes. There, we were (thankfully) fast-tracked through check-in and security to the lounge, where we enjoyed a hot breakfast, a glass of champagne, and John indulged in an Elemis facial - temporarily forgetting about his spa-injury.
It was honestly one of the best ways I've ever spent an evening pre-flight and something I'll definitely consider doing again next time we've got a morning flight (p.s. and the room was a lot cheaper than you'd think!).
A word of advice though? Don't hurt yourself in the spa. Please.