CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

On holiday at Heathrow Airport- Review

PUBLISHED: 18:38 26 October 2011 | UPDATED: 10:33 21 February 2013

A bedroom at The Radisson

A bedroom at The Radisson

As she flew into Heathrow Karen Bowerman gave in to last minute whim. She booked herself a couple of extra days away – at an airport hotel - and was pleasantly surprised to discover you can still have a weekend break close to the runway...

On holiday at Heathrow Airport



As she flew into Heathrow Karen Bowerman gave in to last minute whim. She booked herself a couple of extra days away at an airport hotel - and was pleasantly surprised to discover you can still have a weekend break close to the runway.



Every time I come back from holiday I have the same, self-indulgent thought. Ping goes the fasten your seatbelt sign and there it is, whispering enticingly.



Wouldnt it be great, it suggests - completely theoretically at first - if you had just a couple of days more? Another 48 hours to forget about emails and the office? Wouldnt it be fun not to have to go home just yet? It knows full well I agree.



As the plane hits the ground Ifind myself toying with where to stay; theoretically of course. Then I remind myself that airport hotels arent really for holidaying in and that if I do check in somewhere Ill no doubt be heading for one, big, costly disappointment.



The voice speaks, purrs almost, one last time. If, after touching down at Heathrow I were to jump on the airport shuttle within minutes Id be at the Radisson Edwardian, voted best airport hotel in the world for seven years running (1997-2003) by Business Traveller Magazine.



I stand in the airy, marble lobby and check in. Im surprised, relieved even, to discover that the Radisson isnt your typical place to stay at the airport. Staff are friendly and welcoming while the dcor nods towards grandeur rather than functionality.



I take a look around (yes theres more than just rooms off a few corridors) and Im immediately struck by a sense of space. Theres the Newbury Room, complete with mosaic floor, palms and small waterfall, two dining areas and an unusually large bar. Even in the spa the changing rooms seem to stretch for miles. No jostling for lockers or tripping over towels here.



The hotel has character too everywhere there are hints of the Far East; brass leopards from Thailand, deities from Taiwan; intricate chairs entwined with dragons; ceremonial drums and framed amulets.



And then there are the orchids. Theyre everywhere towering out of silver urns in well-lit mirrored corridors or hidden in tiny alcoves you almost miss on your way to dinner. I got caught, red-handed by a member of staff as I gently squeezed a petal to see if they were real.



I learn later that the hotel is decorated personally by Amrit Singh the wife of the chains owner. As her children grew up, Singh turned her hand to interior design and loved it. She travels regularly to Asia, shipping back whatever catches her eye. Occasionally, Im told, she swaps pieces in the hotel for what she has at home. She has things as big as this in her house? I ask, flabbergasted, nodding at a nearby pitcher, its shoulders level with mine. Hers is no ordinary home, is the reply.



At the back of the lobby, marble stairs with an ornate, gold balustrade lead to a vast, open space nestling under a glass, domed roof. Shallow bridges of glass and steel form walkways over a mass of water, arranged in tiers, marked by rows of pebbles. The colours, muted browns and golds are picked up in the statues of two gods set high in the walls. Below them stands a collection of shiny urns and a weathered-looking, life-size market cart. Somehow it doesnt seem out of place.



I hear the sound of bubbles, look down, and spot fish blown from translucent glass. They rise above the water at regular intervals, their bodies curved and eyes gleaming.



Later, the receptionist tells me that the area (the Atrium) is used for photo shoots, wedding receptions and serving refreshments during conferences (it backs onto a massive conference room). Its also for guests, if they want to sit and chat or have coffee.
But why, I ask bluntly, isnt it crammed with bedrooms; surely theres the demand?



The manager, Gavin Sanders, appears and she looks to him for guidance. He has an intriguing explanation. Its because the Atrium was built directly above us, he says, on the flat roof of the lobby.
Ah, so its not load bearing, I comment (having attempted a little DIY in my time).



Exactly, except for three metres running round the edge. So although we couldnt build rooms, the bridges meant it didnt have to be wasted space.
The novel idea means the Atrium can still accommodate up to 700 people despite there being no conventional floor.



As evening falls I return to enjoy the unusual space. I discover its lit with soft gold beams and tiny spotlights. Columns I hadnt noticed before glow green. The water reflects the impressive arched ceiling and the silent glass fish. I go to bed forgetting Im at Heathrow.



The next day I promise myself a final holiday treat. I enter the dim, restful light of the spa (free to guests of the hotel) and lay on a heated bed for an Ayuverdic massage. Oil, for a second almost too hot, drips onto my spine. Jade, my therapist, smoothes it into my back with round, heated stones. I close my eyes and as she manipulates my muscles, I feel the tension ease.



Afterwards I relax in an unusually spacious steam room before grabbing a robe and reclining in the relaxation area with a cup of mint tea. I unwind to gentle piano music and the sound of distant waves.



That afternoon businessmen are pounding the running machines before evening flights. I know that for me too, work is just round the corner, but now Im fine about it. I head to dinner with a spring in my step, convinced I can still squeeze in a sauna before bed. I may be at the airport, but for one last night I remain en vacances.



I smile smugly as only a holidaymaker can.



Radisson Edwardian, Heathrow. www.radissonedwardian.co.uk/heathrow
140 Bath Road, Middlesex UB3 5AW United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 8759 6311
Standard double 75- 375 a night depending on season and occupancy).

0 comments

More from Out & About

Yesterday, 12:26

Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to a festive fair. From German-style food stalls to vintage fetes, Hertfordshire’s Christmas markets have it all

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We quiz author Kevin Exley about his new book that takes the reader on the trail of fascinating stories, new and old, around Berkhamsted

Read more
October 2018
Monday, October 29, 2018

Hertfordshire is a county with a vast, fascinating and sometimes dark and bloody history that has reportedly lead to more than a few angry ghosts sticking around to wreak havoc and take revenge on the living. We have gathered 10 of the most haunted places in the county

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Make the most out of autumn with these eight walking routes that take in a variety of Hertfordshire’s terrains and - most importantly – have a cosy pub along the way

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We've selected a variety of spooky activities in the county that are sure to delight the kids

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Hussey explores the fascinating world of bats and new projects in the county to help conserve these remarkable creatures

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species is asking the public to look out for mammals on Hertfordshire’s roads as part of a citizen science project

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From stately homes to skateparks, we have selected some of the best ideas for things to do in Hertfordshire

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The diverse parkland of Pishiobury Park in Sawbridgeworth is undergoing a five-year plan to promote its heritage and enhance its habitats. It makes for a royal day out

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

From Aldbury to Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire has a plethora of pretty villages. We have picked just 10 that you should visit

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search