Perfect Pit Stop: A Review of Sofitel London Heathrow Hotel in Terminal 5

Jun 16, 2019

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To The Point

The Sofitel Heathrow Terminal 5 is great for a one night stay before an early or after a late flight. Pros: The buffet breakfast was fit for a king and the location is perfect for T5 access. Cons: The style was definitely geared towards business travelers and felt distinctly corporate throughout, but that, I guess, is not uncommon with airport hotels. I also feel like they missed a trick with a having a hotel in such a prime airport location but not having an rooms with runway views.

With the relatively new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport serving as British Airways’ home base, it’s safe to say that a lot of people are passing through the terminal on a given day. And with BA serving tons of destinations worldwide — many of them long-haul — from this terminal, there’s plenty of need for travelers with long layovers (or missed flights) to lay their heads at night. Luckily, Sofitel operates a hotel that’s connected right to Terminal 5, and in my many trips to LHR to review all of the lounges in the airport, we figured it’d be a good time to also check out this hotel, which is ultra-convenient for travelers flying with BA.

In This Post

Booking

We paid a total of £187.59 for a Classic Room including breakfast, which seemed more than reasonable for a night in a five-star hotel in a prime location right at Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

A couple of days before the stay, I received an email offering to let me gamble with a potential room upgrade for £24, so I thought I’d go for it. However, after checking on the Accor website, I discovered that there was only a £30 difference between the price of the room I had paid for and the next level Superior Room, meaning that if I spent £30 I would be guaranteed an upgrade but for £24 I might not — not really a good offer at all in hindsight.

Sofitel belongs to the Accor Hotels Group and therefore their loyalty programme, Le Club. As a member, you are required to have earned a minimum of 2,000 points to be able to redeem against the cost of a night’s stay, but you do receive a discount of up to 10% on stays when booking directly through the Accor website. 

Location

Accor proudly advertises its Heathrow Sofitel property as the only hotel at Heathrow Terminal 5 with direct terminal access. I can indeed confirm that, after a bit of a trek down various walkways and (very hot) corridors, the hotel is definitely connected to the airport.

Directions were clear from inside the terminal building and signposted from both the arrivals and departures levels of T5.

I arrived first at an area reserved for car-rental companies, followed by another lift or escalator, which led down to the hotel reception.

Check-in

When I arrived midafternoon, there was only one other guest at reception, so the whole process was quick and easy. The staff member was happy to inform me that I had been awarded the not-so-excellent-value upgrade that I mentioned earlier, though I was slightly disappointed when I asked for a runway view and he said that all of the rooms faced inward and that none of them had any kind of special view. He explained where I could get breakfast the following morning and that I had complimentary access to the gym, but entrance into the spa and relaxation area would be £25.

Room

When I entered my room, there was a really annoying 20-second snippet of a single song being played on a loop from the TV, which took me a while to fathom out how to turn off. Once peace was restored, I was able to take in my surroundings properly and was pleasantly surprised by the light and airy space and also the size of the humongous bed.

The style of the room was simple and practical with a definite corporate-traveler feel. However, this was of no surprise given the hotel’s purpose and location. More importantly, the room felt very clean and in no way worn or in need of a makeover. There was a comfy-looking armchair and footrest, perfect to relax in with a good book. There was also a large and practical desk complete with HDMI, USB and audio/video outlets.

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However, there was a distinct lack of power outlets on either side of the bed.

My disappointment about the lack of power outlets next to the bed was soon forgotten when I pulled back the sheets and got into what I can only describe as a cloud — it was hands down one of the comfiest beds I have slept in in a long time. I felt so refreshed upon waking up the next day that I did not want to get up!

The room’s TV had more than enough channels and radio stations to keep anyone entertained during a one-night stay. However, while I was tucking into my room service and enjoying an episode of my favourite quiz show ever, ‘The Chase.’ The TV turned itself off repeatedly to the point that I gave up and turned it off, meaning that now I’ll have to live the rest of my life without knowing if the contestants won the money.

The bathroom was immaculately clean, and the the robe, towels and amenities perfectly presented. I prefer showers over baths, always, so walk-in showers separate to the baths like in this bathroom are always a huge plus for me.

The usual hotel amenities were by the ESPA brand, which I had never heard of before staying here, but the products worked well and smelled great.

If you’re wondering why there is a picture of a hair dryer below, it is because having a powerful hair dryer that is not attached to the wall on a tiny spiral cord is a huge bonus for some people, including me.

Food and Beverage

The hotel boasted three main restaurants, all with French names (Vivre, Le Bar Parisien and La Belle Epoque), as well as Sphere, a small bar. In terms of being able to get a proper meal, Le Bar Parisien was the only one open midafternoon, as both La Belle Epoque and Vivre were being prepared for the dinner service. As I was in a rush to head into Central London anyway, I returned to my room and ordered room service instead.

Restaurant La Belle Epoque
Le Bar Parisien
Sphere Bar

There was also a bar-cum-café in the main lobby close to the reception that was quite busy, with people having quick business meetings or a drink and a snack before their flight.

I was informed by the operator that my food would arrive in around 30 minutes, but it was on my table in around 20 — fast food win! The club sandwich, a staple on hotel menus around the world and something I’d not usually order at a restaurant, arrived nicely presented on a tray with salad, chips and condiments. The sandwich itself was still hot, tasted great and was exactly what I needed for a late-afternoon snack.

I was equally impressed with the breakfast buffet at the hotel’s main restaurant, Vivre, the following morning. The variety was such that I would say that there would be something at this buffet to appeal to palates from all around the world, from the usual selection of pastries, fresh fruits, cold meats and cheese and full English breakfast components to congee, pancakes, vegetable samosas and kulcha.

You don’t always see dairy-free milk options in hotels either, so I was impressed that there was an alternative here.

The service was quick and friendly, and there was coffee waiting for me at my table by the time I had come back from the buffet with my food, which you could see being prepared fresh by the chefs in the open kitchen! I had a small English breakfast, as I was about to spend the day sampling the food on offer in Terminal 5’s lounges.

If you don’t have access to a lounge with a decent breakfast selection before you get your flight, I would definitely recommend you make sure breakfast is included in your rate at this hotel, as it will for sure set you up for the day.

Amenities

This hotel is presumably more often than not just a quick pit stop for travelers departing or leaving London, so I wasn’t expecting there to be much in the way of amenities. However, as well as having more than enough dining options for a one-night stay, there was a free, 24-hour gym and a spa (£25 for access, even as a guest) as well as a small shop selling snacks and last-minute London souvenirs and a barber shop.

As my stay was so short, I didn’t get a chance to have a work out in the gym, but I asked if I could have a look around the spa to take some photos. If you have some time to kill, I would highly recommend spending some time in the spa, as it was completely empty when I had a tour. There was a full-size steam room and sauna as well as plunge pool, which looked so very inviting. The changing room was bright and clean and maybe almost nicer than my room’s bathroom!

Spa Reception

Overall Impression

I had no expectations before my stay at the Sofitel, but I can say that I was pleasantly surprised. The room, though slightly corporate in style, provided everything I needed for my one-night stay before my flight. What I really valued here, though, was the speed and quality of the room service, as well as the variety and quality of the buffet breakfast. Both meals would be perfectly suited to the type of traveler likely to stay at this hotel.

All photos by the author.

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