It’s always great to hear about a new plane spotter viewing area being opened, and when it is at one of the world’s greatest and busiest airports it really causes a bit of a stir.
London Heathrow has no shortage of great spotting hotels, but there are very few dedicated viewing areas for spotters. Those that do exist are not ideal for photographers, or rely on aircraft using a particular runway to be of any use.
Now, the Novotel hotel on Bath Road is combining both – great views from its rooms, and a viewing area for plane spotting which the public can use.
Located in the hotel’s panoramic Heathrow Suite, the viewing area overlooks the northern runway 09L/27R from an elevated 4th floor position, meaning photography is possible with a good lens and you won’t miss any movements.
There are some buildings in front of the viewing area, but they are lower and shouldn’t affect the views too much. Any photographs are through glass.
Access & Membership
The Novotel viewing area opened on 21st August 2020 with a special drop-in day for enthusiasts.
Sadly it is not open to just wander into whenever you feel like.
As part of the active hotel, those not staying there need to be members, with an annual subscription or pay on the door daily membership.
- 4 Hours – £10 (£5 for under 12s)
- Unlimited Monthly Rate – £50 (£20 for under 12s)
- Overnight Stay, Parking, Breakfast & Viewing Access – £70 (£80 for 2 people, £100 for 2 adults & 2 children)Includes free parking.
Times are 4am-10pm, which covers the airport’s opening hours.
Also, owing to current Covid-19 restrictions, there is a limited number of people who can use the viewing deck at any one time. They allow up to 50-60 people at once.
Bring your own mask. Hand sanitisers are provided.
The Novotel London Heathrow Airport T1, T2 & T3 is located at 234 Bath Road, Hayes, UB3 5AP
278 from Heathrow Central not 273.
Great to have this facility but the rates are very confusing.
The facility is open from 4am to 10pm, yet the rate is £10 for 4 hours.
Why is there not a ‘DAY’ rate as many people who choose to stay intend to be there all day ie. 12 hours!
Also it mentions annual membership, but there is no price for this option.
Do the 4 hour and monthly rates for membership include parking?
How do you book access, I see no mention of it on Novotel website.
I agree with Simon, there should be an all day pass as a lot of people would like to spend the whole day there, not just four hours, and it would be great if parking was included. It is great to have this facility though, well done to Novotel.
I don’t think they know their own rates…. or care who you are. We went yesterday and was charged £6 for me and my daughter for 2 hours including parking. We weren’t hotel guests, and guy didn’t even ask if I was an Accor Loyalty Member!
From a plane spotting point of view it’s a good location, overlooking North Runway and T2 with a pair of bins for South Runway views, and better than the Academy for having an elevated view and being indoors when weather is inclement.
But let’s be honest, this is just an empty shell of a meeting/conference room that the hotel has no current use for due to Covid, and there has been no effort whatsoever to turn it into anything resembling a fit-for-purpose viewing facility (e.g. some arrival/departure screens, Flightradar24 screen, pictures and info on walls – if anything it’s a wasted opportunity to turn it into an attraction!
And based on our experience, we were outnumbered significantly by a group of hotel ‘residents’ who were simply loitering in the viewing room area, and by residents, I don’t mean hotel paying guests, but a group of people who were clearly being ‘housed’ in the hotel by the authorities. At one point it suddenly became their communal dining area with a group buffet appearing from somewhere. None of these people were following Covid guidelines, no masks, no social distancing (one tried to get in lift with us when leaving as if that wasn’t an issue), no rule of 6, and no policing of the situation by the hotel staff.
Such a shame, as could be so much more, but in reality this is just an individual hotel manager making a few quid out of an empty conference room – post Covid I expect this facility will disappear once conferences and meetings start to happen again.