If you want to start your holiday early, or have the stress of business travel taken away, the Sofitel at Gatwick airport is ideal. SBT reviews the pre-travel accommodation experience
Having driven from the Sussex coast, I arrived at the Gatwick Sofitel at North Terminal, parked in the car park and made my way into (and up to) the reception area. From the moment I stepped inside, having been greeted at the doorway, I felt like a valued guest and immediately at ease. The check in was speedy and efficient, and the foyer thoroughly impressive, with a modern fountain and almost town-like feel as you look up and around to see rows of small windows all looking over you from all floors.
My room was located on the newly refurbished 8th floor, which the Duty Manager informed me was being redeveloped five rooms at a time, with guests’ comfort in mind. I stepped into my Executive Suite offering a much-anticipated Sofitel ‘My Bed’ concept – an extremely luxurious bed with Egyptian cotton and feather pillows. Elsewhere in the room was a desk, armchair, television, toweling robes, slippers, Espa toiletries and a complimentary mini bar complete with wine, beer and soft drinks. This really did feel like a room that looked after its guest, in particular before or after a long journey, which, whether for business or pleasure can be stressful.
I could certainly see why they were so enthusiastic about the hotel facilities,, and how easy it made their travel too, with the hotel the only premium hotel linked directly to the North Terminal, needing only a 3 minute, covered walk to reach the check in desks.
One of the main benefits of the Executive package is use of the lounge: Club Millesime. This is an exclusive lounge that allows guests to sit, drink and watch the planes go by. The room itself is surrounded by uninterrupted views of Gatwick airport’s runways: a view that may not sound luxurious, but it’s a fascinating experience! Complimentary drinks and canapés were offered in abundance, settling any traveller in for a decadent evening.
Whilst filling up with ‘nibbles’ and enjoying a refreshing gin and tonic, I spoke to a couple staying in the hotel themselves, glasses of wine in hand. They told me how they were flying to Tenerife the next morning on a short break; how they wouldn’t stay anywhere else before a flight now that they’d found the Sofitel. This was a nice insight into the benefits of pre and post-travel accommodation. Mike, who I was speaking to for a guest’s opinion, said: “It’s just so easy! We get here and our holiday begins. We check in, we come here for a drink and to watch the planes fly out, we have our dinner in the fantastic Chinese restaurant downstairs and we’re in bed by 10 o clock ready for our early morning start in the height of comfort.”
The atmosphere of the whole hotel was one of tranquility. I should think this is the ideal atmosphere for a busy businessperson, and the Executive lounge would act as a huge plus for those wanting to mix their professional life with luxury
I could certainly see why they were so enthusiastic about the hotel facilities,, and how easy it made their travel too, with the hotel the only premium hotel linked directly to the North Terminal, needing only a 3 minute, covered walk to reach the check in desks. In addition, if you needed to get to the South Terminal, it’s entirely simple: step out of the hotel and you’re immediately at the monorail stop, ready for a 2 minute journey to your destination.
The atmosphere of the whole hotel was one of tranquility. I should think this is the ideal atmosphere for a busy businessperson, and the Executive lounge would act as a huge plus for those wanting to mix their professional life with luxury. The running of the hotel all felt very well interlinked, smooth and stress-free, with every member of staff completing their own duties simultaneously without fuss. Even the layout of the restaurants, the fountain and reception desk seemed logical and suited to business travel transience.
My partner and I headed down to dinner: our table was booked for 8pm at La Brasserie, a fine dining restaurant which had been recommended by all the staff. La Brasserie holds two AA rosettes and mixes a modern British menu with a French ‘joie de vivre’.
We had the pleasure of meeting the Head Chef, David Woods after our meal was finished, who enquired as to how our meal was, and commented on how he is committed to sourcing as many of their products and ingredients locally and ethically.
We were first served an amuse bouche of venison and vegetable broth and offered a variety of bread options. I chose a starter of Soufflé Omelette, which sounded too intriguing not to try. My partner had a plate of Devon crab, king prawns and lobster, which was beautifully presented. I had to take the trophy though as my soufflé, with smoked haddock in a lobster bisque sauce, was absolutely divine.
For the main event, I had peppered venison, with cabbage, pear and potato cake, whilst my partner had pork belly with mass potato, a long and impressive strip of crackling and carrots. Both meals were extremely tasty and very well presented. The venison was juicy, tender and perfectly cooked (medium, like I asked) and melted in my mouth – it was particularly well complemented by each sip of my New Zealand Shiraz. Dessert, for me, was a lemon and lime tart with raspberry sorbet, and for my partner, a crème fraiche cheesecake – which was utterly creamy and indulgent. Both were ideally sized, leaving us feeling full but not bursting at the seams.
We had the pleasure of meeting the Head Chef, David Woods after our meal was finished, who enquired as to how our meal was, and commented on how he is committed to sourcing as many of their products and ingredients
locally and ethically. He explained how my venison was from Petworth, and that all the fish was fresh and sustainablycaught. I was unsurprised to learn that the Sofitel had recently been awarded a silver medal by the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) for its commitment to green policy and CSR.
Last October also saw the 10th anniversary for the hotel under the luxury international Sofitel brand. With 518 spacious guest rooms, an array of restaurants and bars from the relaxed to the fine dining, conference centre with 11 versatile meeting rooms and the impressive 8th floor, it’s not difficult to see why this hotel has made its mark within the airport accommodation sector. I would highly recommend a stay at this hotel, before or after international travel – or even just to experience a luxurious night in a 4-star hotel near London.