Tuesday 20 March 2018

Sleeping in a pod in the basement of Gatwick South Terminal

Nina McCarthy

Catching some shuteye on the go can be an adventure in itself.

I flew back from Perth (Australia, not Scotland) to the UK recently for a course, and my 24-hour journey was culminating with a flight getting into Gatwick at 8pm. 

I could have tried to soldier on and get to Cambridge, my final destination, but I thought I’d be kind to myself & check into an airport hotel for some sleep first.

A Google search suggested Yotel, a ‘Japanese-style capsule hotel’.  Intriguing.  It was also cheap (GBP55 for the night), and convenient (located within the actual terminal building)...sold.

Arriving in Gatwick North terminal there is good signage taking you to South Terminal, and there the trail goes cold.  You have to take the tiny elevator beside Costa Coffee down to the basement.

Glass doors open onto reception, or ‘mission control’, as it’s called at Yotel, which is open 24hrs and was manned by remarkably pleasant and efficient staff. 

Apparently the hotel is modelled on the 1st class cabin of an airplane, but it feels more like a spaceship, with rows of ‘pods’ with white doors featuring small portholes.  They really, really should have been playing ‘Space Oddity’ on a loop. 

The whole place smells, inexplicably, like the liquid they give you at the dentist to rinse with, and entirely lit by pink fluro, it looks like it too.

The ‘pod’ is equal parts bed, wetroom, and ‘everything else’(door clearance/fold-down desk/luggage storage/wardrobe).  The wetroom, separated by a glass door from the rest of the pod, was AMAZEBALLS. 

The powerful shower was more than sufficient to sleuce away all those nasty 24-hr-plane-journey odours.  That weird showergel/shampoo-in-1 was provided, if you were desperate, or there’s a Boots in the terminal about 100m away because you’re still in the airport!!!

Hooching yourself into the bed, which is on a platform, requires a good level of fitness.  Once in though it was very comfortable, and had a small flatscreen TV in the wall at my feet.  

I’m 5’9’’ and I fit fine lengthwise, but you wouldn’t want to be much taller.  Although comfortable enough for one, suggesting (as they do), that you could fit two adults in the bed in a ‘standard’ cabin is kind of a joke. 

And even if you could (as is pointed out in many of the traveller reviews), it would have to be someone you were comfortable relieving yourself in front of (the glass door). 

The WIFI was fast, and the free 24-hr coffee was surprisingly good (provided by ‘mission control’, along with inexpensive snacks).  The whole thing was impeccably clean, and very, very funky. 

There are other Airport Yotels at Heathrow and Schiphol, and a city centre hotel in NYC.  

Would I recommend to a friend? Yes, for the purposes I used it for, with one-person occupancy, IF you have no issues with claustrophobia or odontophobia. 

For a shorter stopover, you can also book by the hour (and no, it’s not one of ‘those’ hotels).  Would I stay there for a week?  Only if I was a vampire.


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