Hotels in Gatwick, United Kingdom
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Gatwick Airport – why be so flighty?
Gatwick Airport is the UK’s second-busiest airport, with more than 43 million passengers passing though in 2016. 28 miles from London, off the M23 motorway and near the M25, it is accessible from all over the country. If you’re flying from Gatwick, you may simply plan to turn up a few hours before take-off. However, you could be tempted to take things a little bit more leisurely. There is now a huge selection of shops, eateries, leisure facilities and hotels at Gatwick Airport or nearby, making flying a far more pleasurable experience.
Stay around the airport for added convenience
You probably imagine that staying by the airport will set you back a pretty penny. There are of course, as you would expect, several luxury four-star hotels catering for the business market. However, nowadays you will find a far greater selection of mid-range chains, economy lodges and relatively cheap hotels to choose from in and around Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal and South Terminal. Even if their Gatwick hotels are a tad more expensive than in other locations, they still often provide good value and that bit of comfort and reassurance.
These hotels, geared towards the needs of travellers, are very practical if you have booked parking within the airport or nearby. They are particularly useful if you have an early morning flight as many will provide you with a transfer to the airport. Don’t worry if your chosen hotel is located near the ‘wrong’ terminal for you, travel between the North and South terminals is easy with a regular shuttle service.
Eating out is not confined to your hotel either. You could choose to visit a nearby town such as Crawley or Horley or even dine in the airport. There is now a wide variety of restaurants, coffee houses, snack bars and well-known chains before and after security. In terms of shops too, there is far more on offer than duty-free, with several large clothing, jewellery and sports stores based in the airport – some open 24 hours a day.
Quicker connections by rail
Gatwick Airport is now only half an hour away from central London with the Gatwick Express service running to London Victoria every 15 minutes. There are also fast train links operated by Thameslink to London Bridge and Saint Pancras railway stations, as well as to Bedford, Luton and Brighton. Perfect for a quick getaway!
Local routes also pass through Gatwick’s railway station, taking you to the towns of Crawley and Horley, bordering the airport, as well as other commuter-belt towns such as Redhill, Purley and Croydon. If you’re travelling by rail, a stay overnight in one of these places could break up your journey and make your trip a whole lot more agreeable and less expensive than staying in a hotel directly next to Gatwick Airport.
The railway station at Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal can be reached in just seven or eight minutes from Crawley (or its Three Bridges station) or Horley and is just ten minutes from Redhill and 14 minutes from Hayward’s Heath. Purley and Croydon are around a 20-minute ride away.
Bus services can also take passengers directly to and from 400 UK towns, as well as central London and Heathrow Airport.
Why not make a stay of it?
If you don’t want to distance yourself too far from the airport, you can find several independent hotels and guesthouses in Crawley or Horley, just minutes from Gatwick. These are generally less expensive than the hotels around the airport and frequently homelier. Beware though, sometimes you do get what you pay for! Some country residences also provide parking and shuttle services to the airport, which you could find more attractive and practical than leaving your car in a large parking lot.
Although not the most picturesque of towns, you’ll find a selection of pubs, restaurants and leisure attractions including bowling, go-karting and climbing in Crawley. Horley also has a few places to eat out, whilst you’ll find country pubs and hotels within a few miles of the airport. If you have some time on your hands or want the kids to let off a bit of steam, The National Trust property of Harewoods, with its woodlands and meadows, is a breath of fresh air.
If you’ve got an hour or two spare and are interested in the history of the airport or in aviation in general, you could also take time to visit The Gatwick Aviation Museum. Run by volunteers and open at weekends, this small hanger around the back of the airport near Charlwood offers you the opportunity to clamber in a Shackleton Aircraft and see exhibits from the golden age of British aircraft.
If you’re looking for somewhere quainter and less hectic to stay, Redhill or Reigate provide good alternatives. There are a few guesthouses and a couple of chain hotels near the railway station as well as some traditional pubs and cosy restaurants to relax in. If you’re not in a rush, you can even visit The National Trust’s Reigate Hill and Gatton Park – ideal for a leisurely afternoon stroll in the Surrey Hills.
If you’re travelling from far, you could even consider stopping off in Royal Tunbridge Wells about 50 minutes’ drive from Gatwick. This affluent spa town, a favourite haunt of Queen Victoria, has a charming selection of good quality restaurants and bed and breakfasts in and around its famous walkway The Pantiles.
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