Any way you slice it travelling to Europe from Calgary is a long haul and if your final destination is not London, Frankfurt or Amsterdam a change of planes and a looooong layover will be your reality. The last time we flew Calgary to Warsaw we went via Amsterdam and with an eight hour layover we headed into the city. Leaving the Amsterdam airport is simple follow the crowd, purchase a train ticket and within a few minutes you are in the centre of the city. We have also had such an adventure in London – again terminal 4 at Heathrow takes you right to the train to central London so when we can schedule such side trips we do but this time we were saddled with a 5.5 hour layover in London Heathrow. Not long enough to leave the airport and play in London but too long to (especially after an eight hour flight) to sit, eat and dare I say it to even shop. So our travel agent suggested we look into “Yotel”- a pay by the hour hotel. Yes- we had the same reaction- pay by the hour- just what kind of place was she suggesting? Yotel is the a no-nonsense, sensible and affordable way of getting a bit of rest, a shower and a moment of peace during a layover. http://www.yotel.com/Hotels/London-Heathrow
We booked the room online, while rooms are charged by the hour you must pay for a 4 hour minimum. We decided to take a standard room which cost us 34 pounds about 50 odd Canadian. So a couple of important things to remember…Yotel is in terminal 4 LAND-SIDE…which means you will have to get to terminal 4 from your landing terminal. We landed in terminal 5 and there was a shuttle every 15 min heading to terminal 4 and the ride is about 15 min length also. Then follow the purple signs to border control- you must actually go through customs -therefore if you need a ViSA it probably isn’t worth the work. We were travelling on Canadian passports and the line was short and went by quickly. The EU passport line was nasty long and was not moving quickly-so you must think about this when booking. Do you have time to get to terminal 4 and go through border control? We left our plane at about 1:15 and we were checked in and laying in bed a little after 2pm but again the shuttle was waiting and there was no line up at border control.
Yotel is easy to find, there are loads of signs and you check in via computer terminal at the door. Simply key in your confirmation number, slide in your credit card and done. The doors to the hotel open, you head to the office and pick up your key. There is a pretty good menu that is very affordable and you can pre-order food online so it will be ready upon your arrival, at checkin or you can give room service a call. Everything goes on credit card and in Europe you must have a chip in your card-yes we are behind the times in Canada-so if you are travelling to Europe and want to use plastic-it must have a chip-no signatures accepted.
Yotel in London Heathrow is like a space ship no nook or cranny is wasted. Once in your pod there is an enclosed bed- so comfortable you wouldn’t believe, TV,Toilet, shower and to die for with body wash (they advertise this non stop- I understand why-it is magical)!!!! We had a good nap, watched some TV and the best was a hot shower and change of clothes. Getting extra towels was no problem and there is a hair dryer and you can get your clothes ironed if needed!
Checking out is simple and quick you simply hand the key over to the fellow in the office and you are on your way. You will have to get transit to your departing terminal and since you have been land-side you will need to check in and go through security.
We loved the Yotel, it was clean, comfortable and affordable. The only downside is the time it takes to get through customs and then back in through security, however if you have 5 or so hours you should have no problem, so on your next loooong transatlantic layover- rest, relax and enjoy!