Monday, 4 July 2011

An overnight stop at Yotel Gatwick

I envy people who can fall asleep on public transport. Not so much my friend who regularly used to nod off on Madrid's circle line, waking up at the same stop on every lap, but the ability to lay your head anywhere certainly comes into its own when travelling. I've lost count of the number of times I've stared wide-eyed and wide awake around a coachload of faintly snoring passengers at an hour when we all should have been tucked up in our respective beds. Journeys to airports to catch a red-eye flight are the worst provokers of jealousy: never have I been so envious of open-mouthed drooling in public as I have at 3am on the way to Gatwick.

Before a recent 6am flight to Seville, I decided enough was enough: I couldn't face the 2am bus journey. Spending the night at Gatwick was an obvious solution, but given my inability to sleep anywhere other than the most logical of places and my need for a bit of comfort, the check-in area floor was never going to be an option. A hotel stay was definitely required, but I didn't really want to rise at 3am to get a connecting bus from a hotel to the terminal.

The solution to my conundrum came in the form Yotel, the 'cabin hotel' handily located in Gatwick's South Terminal arrivals area (and just a few steps away from departures). Founded by the people behind Yo Sushi, this smart little spot offers weary travellers the chance to bed down in a private ensuite room of petite proportions before or after their flights. With cabins available for a minimum of 4 hours (and a minimum cost of £26), it's the perfect place to get some shut-eye in comfort.

Arriving on Friday at 9.30pm, the lift whisked me away from the throng outside arrivals and into a pocket of low-lit serenity in the underbelly of the airport. I attempted to check in using the machines outside the door, but seeing me faffing around in a quest to find my reservation confirmation, the friendly receptionist waved me inside and did the honours, talking me through the cabin's features and even offering me an alarm clock and a pair of earplugs.

Stepping inside the corridor to the cabins, the sense of calm increased. This place was clearly designed with nothing but rest in mind. Opening the door to my premium cabin, I found a 4 star hotel room in miniature: a double bed in a semi-upright position, ready to go horizontal at the touch of a button; a wall-mounted flat screen TV; a drop-down desk; clothes hanging space; a full-length mirror and a bathroom which ran the entire length of the room, featuring a waterfall shower. The cabins might feel a little snug for 2 people, but for a few hours' rest you certainly couldn't complain, and the galley-style bathroom was far better than some I've encountered in bigger hotels.

A premium cabin

Too tired to take advantage of the free Wifi and tens of TV channels, I got ready for bed immediately. Settling back for a night's sleep, I lowered the bed (in standard cabins guests unfold them from the walls themselves) and dimmed the lights to a soft purple glow. With a choice of light settings by the side of your bed, you'll have no problem winding down or waking yourself back up again. The mattress was firm but comfortable and there was a stack of fluffy pillows for maximum comfort. As I switched the lights off entirely, I didn't envy those crashed out on the coach one little bit.

Rising at 4am, I showered, repacked my overnight bag and checked out, pleasantly surprised by how awake I felt at such an unearthly hour. Almost bouncing into the flight check-in queue, I felt fresh and ready for the journey and a day of sightseeing in the Seville heat. Looking around at my weary-eyed, crumple-clothed fellow passengers, I couldn't say the same for them. Yotel, I salute you: you're the perfect solution to my early flight dilemma. No more wakeful nights on a bus for me - I'll be soundly asleep in my little cabin.

Yotel also has branches at Heathrow Terminal 4, Amsterdam Schipol and a new city hotel in New York. I was a guest of Yotel.


  1. Yotel is located in Gatwick's south terminal?

  2. Yes, it is! In the arrivals area.


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