Home Airport Spotting Guide London Heathrow Renaissance Spotting Hotel Review

London Heathrow Renaissance Spotting Hotel Review

by Matt Falcus
Renaissance Heathrow Spotting Hotel

Renaissance Heathrow Spotting Hotel

Ask any spotter what the greatest spotting hotels in the world are and there’s a good chance the Renaissance at London Heathrow will feature in many people’s lists.

I recently stayed at this hotel, so used the opportunity to check out the possibilities for spotting.



The position of this hotel on the northern perimeter alongside the fence gives it a grandstand position which is greater than all of the other hotels along the northern side of Heathrow. Most of the other hotels are on Bath Road, or set back from the fence. However, the Renaissance has only a car park between it and the northern runway.

It is easy to get to from any of the terminals, using the hotel shuttle or local buses. It is also easy to reach by car, with its own car park (fees apply on top of your room price).

In the adjacent car park is the small viewing stand outside the former Academy building, which is a popular place for spotters to congregate. Aviation Retail Direct operate a small aviation shop in the building, selling books and models.




Aircraft landing on runway 09L/27R are close enough to touch!


Renaissance Heathrow Spotting hotel

Aircraft near the maintenance areas can be seen.

As I said, this hotel has a grandstand view of the action. It is around a third of the way along runway 27R, just after aircraft touch down. Alternately, it is around two thirds of the way along runway 09L, where aircraft are usually turning off.

In front of you is most of Terminal 2, and the remains of Terminal 1 which were unused on my visit but will be transformed into an extension of Terminal 2.

Off to the left is the maintenance areas for British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, and some of the remote parking stands for day-stopping aircraft.

Terminal 5 is not really visible unless you are in the westernmost rooms. Terminals 3, 4 and the cargo areas are also out of sight.

All aircraft movements are visible from the Renaissance, however you’ll need a SBS or Flightradar24 to find out the aircraft that you’re seeing, particularly on the southern 09R/27L runway. 27L arrivals are visible to just before touchdown, and 27L departures shortly after liftoff. 09R arrivals are not visible, but 09R departures can be seen easily.



Renaissance Heathrow

Sometimes street lights can get in the way of photography

Heathrow Spotting hotels

The location of the Renaissance at Heathrow makes it probably the best for photography of aircraft using the northern runway. Aircraft pass very close by, so you do not even need a particularly long lens.

Depending on the floor you’re in, there are a few problems with street lamps and the fence to contend with. During my stay I gradually managed to time my shots to capture aircraft unobstructed, however it is difficult with longer planes and a little editing work may be required.

The higher your room, the less of a problem this is.

The other minor problem was the condition of the glass, which was opaque around the edges and could do with a thorough clean. It can be dealt with through carefully aiming your lens, and maybe a bit of clean up in Photoshop afterwards.



RoomsRenaissance Hotel Heathrow

Whilst the hotel itself is quite old now, the rooms are excellent, as you would expect with a Renaissance brand 4-star hotel. They were recently renovated and are very comfortable, with fast internet and other amenities.

Unlike most other spotting hotels, it is actually possible to book a Runway View room from the start so that you don’t need to hope your request for a view has made it to the check-in desk, and no awkward conversations about wanting to watch the planes are needed.


I’d agree that the London Heathrow Renaissance is among the best spotting hotels in the world. Whilst there are many great spotting hotels at Heathrow, this should be your default choice where possible.


Renaissance Hotel London Heathrow
140 Bath Road, Hounslow TW6 2AQ | +44 20 88 97 63 63 | www.marriott.com


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Benjamin September 15, 2016 - 10:28 pm

Is it possible to have access to the rooftop for spotting?

Matt Falcus September 16, 2016 - 8:59 am

No, there isn’t any rooftop access at the Renaissance.

Benjamin September 17, 2016 - 7:31 am

Thank you, Matt!!

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KIng F Hui April 4, 2017 - 9:15 pm

I was at this hotel a few years ago. The lamp poles are BIG problem. It also costs more for the top floor.

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Jemstar July 1, 2018 - 6:07 pm

I’ve used the hotel many times for spotting trips & find it a perfect location, the rooms are very comfortable & have free wi-fi. I’m here again in a few weeks for a two night stay – I can’t wait!

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Eamon Falzon May 22, 2019 - 6:48 pm

Hi, can anyone let me know if a 210mm lens would suffice for landing aircraft? Thanks

Matt Falcus May 22, 2019 - 8:17 pm

Hi Eamon, yes that will be fine. I used a 200mm lens there.

alex enright December 3, 2019 - 7:17 pm

if I just want to spot for a few hours, then go. would I be able to do that? also how much would it cost to do some plane spotting? im not looking to stay a night

Matt Falcus December 4, 2019 - 8:29 pm

Hi Alex. I don’t think you can just go to the hotel rooms to spot without staying the night. But there is a viewing area in the car park next to the hotel (but it’s not good for photographs).

Jack February 21, 2020 - 4:19 am

Can you sit outside, or is it standing only?

Matt Falcus February 21, 2020 - 10:56 am

Standing only, but you can lean on the railings in the grandstand.

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Scott Antico January 10, 2024 - 8:20 am

It is also worth noting for photographers this is not a great hotel..if sunny your shots are backlit for most of the day in summer months with only early morning and twilight in summer getting short Windows of light ..winter backlit all day if sunny


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