A hotel room by the hour? Isn’t that . . . . sketchy?
When you think of a hotel room by the hour, you’re thinking of something illicit, right? Some sleezy no-tel where the private eye snaps photos that wind up in divorce court. We’ve all seen the shows. Well, there is another use for such rates, and it could make a huge difference for your next long trip. While en route to the Balkans, I got an airport hotel room by the hour at London Gatwick that that made my very long travel day bearable.
Airports have amenities, but sometimes you need something more
Savvy travelers know about airport amenities. Many international airports have showers and areas with reasonably comfortable seating away from the main traffic. There are, of course, lounges, too, and it’s not impossible to get access to them.
However, sometimes on a long trip, you just need to “de-people.” You need a shower, a rest, a little terrible TV, and a bite before you head back out into the hoi polloi.
An airport hotel room by the hour can save your day
Enter the airport hotel room by the hour. They aren’t available everywhere, but it’s they are becoming more common. You can save money over the full rate, check in when you need to during the day, and, since you’re often already at the terminal, you can just turn up when it’s time to board your flight.
My veerrrrrry long London layover
I had a ghastly layover on my way to the Balkans (to be fair, I booked the flight using miles and had paid just $26 out of pocket), and I had to switch airports from Heathrow to Gatwick. My original plan was to head into London for the day, but it was the weekend after the queen had died, and I didn’t want to get caught in all that. So, in the early hours of the morning while riding the National Express bus to Gatwick, I tried to come up with another plan.
Why don’t I just get a hotel?
I know, I thought, I’ll just book a hotel room at the airport and see if I can get an early check-in. I’ll order room service, take a shower, and watch some TV.
It was my birthday, after all.
I saw some rooms for a little over £100/night, which seemed a bit steep for my purposes, but I figured it beat a day of agony. We were only halfway to the airport, so I decided to look a bit more to see if I couldn’t find something a bit cheaper but still in the airport. I decided to check out London Gatwick’s website for a list of hotels available at the airport.
YOTELAIR London Gatwick: an airport hotel room by the hour saved me
And that, Dear Reader, is when I discovered that the YOTEL at Gatwick had an option to book by the hour. I laughed a bit to myself (naughty naughty!), as I set about booking four hours in a compact little room YOTELAIR London Gatwick Airport, located right in the terminal. For a mere £55 (at the time I booked it about $62), I turned what could have been a day from hell into something I could manage.
I got off the bus and walked into the terminal, easily finding the elevator to the YOTEL. While checking in, I ordered a sandwich to be delivered to my room and a coffee for right that very second.
Gallery: YOTELAIR London Gatwick
My airport hotel room by the hour. The photos were hard to get in close quarters, but you get the idea.
Four hours that restored my humanity
I drank my coffee after my shower and watched a little terrible television (funeral coverage on most channels). I charged up my phone and set an alarm for 20 minutes before my time was up so that I wouldn’t have to think about it. I didn’t use the wifi, as I had an unlimited plan.
My sandwich arrived (it was clearly prepackaged and microwaved, but it was fine), and I ate it on the little foldout table. I made sure to set another alarm when I got on the bed (I vowed not to sleep, but I was swimming in the pea soup of jet lag and did not trust myself). I wrote for a bit, watched more TV and, when I got dressed again, I felt much more human.
My airport hotel room by the hour had me looking forward to my adventure
I padded out to the front desk for another coffee (I could have ordered it from my room, but I needed to move around), and lazed about for the remainder of my stay. My only regret was that I didn’t book another hour or two afterwards, as I still had plenty of time to kill in the airport. However, I faced that refreshed, reasonably restored, and looking forward once again to my Balkan adventure.
Treat yourself on your next long layover (or ridiculous delay) with an airport hotel room by the hour
I can’t recommend this little treat for yourself enough and have updated my jetlag post to include it. Here’s a little more about how to find airport hotel rooms by the hour.
Finding an airport hotel room by the hour
- You are more likely to find these at international airports—think transport hubs
- Check your airport’s official website first, as they likely list hotels and services that they offer, as well as terminal locations
- YOTELAIR hotels can be found on YOTEL’s website
- com, Hotels by Day, and other such sites are good aggregators of hotel rooms available during the day, but they do not specialize in airports, so take care that you aren’t going far out of your way
- As always, check the reviews before booking. This is meant to be restorative, not repulsive
Booking your airport hotel room by the hour
- If this is for a layover, try to book closer to your arrival if you can, as your incoming flight might be delayed. If you’re traveling during a peak time, you might want to just risk it
- Most hotels will have a minimum number of hours (usually four). If you need more than 6 hours, you’re probably better off just booking a regular room. When in doubt, check the full rate and see if you can check in early
- Hotels usually only make this available during the day. If your delay/layover crosses into the evening, you’ll likely just have to book the evening
- If there are options, the one closest to your terminal is worth the extra money
Taking advantage of your stay
- If you’re checking a bag, you might be able to check it before you check into the hotel, saving yourself some schlepping
- Set an alarm for a bit before your time is up so you can just relax and not think about it
- Watch falling asleep if you’re moving ahead with the time zones. When you’re lounging on the bed, set another alarm for 30 minutes or so to keep you from conking out too hard
Have you booked an airport hotel room by the hour?
Have you ever booked a hotel by the hour for a long layover? How was it? Let us know in the comments. I’d also love to hear from you if you do treat yourself to a little bit of sanity by getting a hotel room for a few hours while in transit.