London Layover: An Oasis of Serenity at Sofitel London Heathrow

Zen Garden at Sofitel London Heathrow
Zen Garden at Sofitel London Heathrow

For travelers facing early morning departures, late evening arrivals, or long layovers, the Sofitel London Heathrow, located right at the airport, is the perfect place to relax and de-stress. Rooms can be booked for overnight stays or for day stays between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Alternatively, weary travelers can while away a few hours at one of the hotel’s inviting public restaurants or lounges. For example, during late mornings and early afternoons, the hotel’s 90-seat Sphere Bar is a tranquil place to read, catch up on e-mail (free Wi- Fi is available throughout the hotel), or to rest on one of the comfortable couches or high-backed leather chairs.

This five-star luxury hotel, part of the Sofitel chain, is only a short walk fromTerminal 5 (used by British Airways and Iberia) via a covered footbridge, and a short ride from Terminals 1, 2, 3, and 4 by courtesy bus or train. Overnight guests can hop onto the nonstop Heathrow Express rail link, arriving in downtown London in just 20 minutes.

Built in 2008, the hotel’s 605 nonsmoking rooms (which include 27 suites) are sleek and contemporary, furnished in soothing cherry- and walnut-colored woods. Even the basic 277-square-foot guest room is comfortably appointed with a workspace and ample horizontal space to set suitcases. The wide range of accommodations available includes suites, with access to an executive lounge and dedicated butler service, and junior suites, with sofabeds so families can comfortably sleep two children in their rooms.

The hotel exterior is glass and steel. Some rooms have airport views (with sound- insulated windows) but many overlook the lobby or one of three Zen gardens in the building’s interior. In-room amenities include the trademarked Sofitel MyBed (with pillow-top mattresses, duvets, and down and feather pillows) and a media hub for laptops or iPods. While the polished-granite bathrooms aren’t exceptionally large, each has a separate tub and walk-in rainfall shower. They are clean, attractive, and depending on the room category, stocked with Hermès or L’Occitane toiletries.

The dramatic atrium reception lobby houses a cascading fountain leading to a passage called Avenue Sofitel, lined with small shops and a hair salon. Windowed walls make the public spaces feel light and airy. In addition to the Sphere Bar, the hotel has two restaurants (one of them an innovative gastronomic restaurant overseen by French chef and restaurateur Albert Roux), another bar, and a tea salon that serves freshly baked madeleines. To meet the needs of international travelers, the fitness center and room service are available 24/7. There is also a luxurious, full-service spa and hydro suite for unwinding.

Service has a decided French touch; guests entering the hotel are greeted with a warm “Bonjour.” Also welcoming are the 15-day advance purchase rates, starting at about $175 on weekends. There is an additional cost for high-speed Internet, $24 for 24 hours.


Sofitel London Heathrow

Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport

(+44) (0)20 8757 7777

There is an additional cost for high speed internet $24USD for 24-hours.

* Also at Heathrow: The Hilton London Heathrow is located at Terminal 4.

[This article was previously published in the Boston Globe  Travel Section on Sunday, November 25, 2012.]

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  1. Fortunately, I’ve only had one experience with Heathrow. Upon arriving from Munich, we thought we would have a 3 hour lay over. I was excited to see this airport I heard so much about. Unlike American airports, we had to once again go through security screening, which took all of our 3 our lay over and then some. We ended up running, as fast as we could, through one end to the other to catch our flight. Thank goodness for American, which held the flight for us, much to the aggravation of the other passengers.

  2. good to have your opnion on the hotel and on its restaurants and public spaces, too. my entry points to Europoe are usually Dublin or Schipol, but one never knows when a layover at Heathrow might be in the cards.

  3. The Sofitel truly is a lovely place to lay over – a restful retreat when flying afar and you need to break up the journey… You can sometimes get some good prices in off-peak travel times too…

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