London is an amazing place for spotters. It has five major airports which each thrive on airlines from around the world, and each offers something slightly different to the other airports around the city.
Airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick are major hubs for long haul flying and large airlines, whilst Luton and Stansted are low-cos and biz jet hubs. Then you’ve got London City which is a unique commuter airport in the heart of the city.
When the daytime spotting is over, these are London’s best airport spotting hotels, each offering the great views of the action at their airport.
BLOC Hotel Gatwick
South Terminal Gatwick Airport, RH6 0NP | +44 20 3051 0101 | www.blochotels.com
One of the best places to spot at London Gatwick is from a high floor room in the BLOC Hotel, which occupies the former administration building on top of the South Terminal.
Its views are similar to those at the old Spectators Terraces that used to be popular at Gatwick, and the height gives a good overview of all operations on the ground and runway. You won’t miss much here if you ask for a room with a view.
140 Bath Road, Hounslow TW6 2AQ | +44 20 88 97 63 63 | www.marriott.com
Little needs to be said of this hotel. It is one of the best spotting hotels in the world, let alone the UK. The Renaissance is situated next to the northern perimeter fence, overlooking runway 09L/27R, its associated taxiways, and parts of Terminal 2, 5 and the maintenance area.
When booking online you can choose a Runway View room. The standard ones are on the second floor whilst the more expensive ones are on the third floor – better for photography as the fence and streetlights are more out of the way.
London City Travelodge
Hartmann Road, Silvertown, London E16 2BZ | 0871 984 6333 | www.travelodge.co.uk
Travelodge hotels are usually very affordable, yet basic. This one is situated to the west of London City’s passenger terminal, behind the biz jet ramp. Any room on the third floor above has good views of this ramp, and the western end of the runway and main parking apron. You won’t miss any movements from here.
Holiday Inn Ariel, Heathrow
118 Bath Road, Harlington, Hayes UB3 5AJ | +44 20 89 90 00 00 | www.holidayinn.com
Another option for Heathrow, the Holiday Inn Ariel is a curiously-shaped round hotel at the north eastern corner of the airport, alongside the threshold of runway 27R. Executive rooms facing the airport are good enough for photography of aircraft landing or lining up on this runway, and on some of the nearby taxiways. You have a good general view of the eastern side of the airport and maintenance area.
Holiday Inn Express Luton Airport
2 Percival Way, Luton LU2 9GP | +44 1582 589100 | www.hiexpress.com
London Luton airport has a fairly confusing layout. The terminal area is in the centre of the airfield along with some of the biz jet ramps, whilst the runway is off to the south via two different taxiways.
The Holiday Inn Express hotel here is right next to the access road to the airport, and set between the runway and terminal. You can ask for a room facing the runway, or the terminal. Runway rooms are probably best if you don’t want to miss any movements. Photography is possible.
Stansted Radisson Blu
Waltham Close, Stansted Airport, Essex CM24 1PP | +44 1279 661012 | www.radissonblue.co.uk
At London Stansted the Radisson Hotel can be found next door to the main passenger terminal on the airport’s eastern side.
Rooms facing the airport look out onto the most northerly of the parking stands, and also the end of runway 23. So any aircraft approaching this end or taxying for departure can easily be seen, and photographs are possible.
The rest of the airport is not visible from the hotel, but it’s the best option here for catching all movements.
Holiday Inn Southend Airport
77 Eastwoodbury Cres, Southend-on-Sea SS2 6XG | +44 1702 543001 | www.holidayinn.com
A fairly new hotel at Southend Airport. The Holiday Inn was opened when the new terminal appeared. It has good views over the airport, especially in higher rooms, although some of the remote parts of the airport’s northern side are still hidden.
The hotel has a restaurant and bar area on the top floor which has great views.
Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow
Eastern Perimeter Rd, Hounslow, TW6 2SQ | +44 20 8266 4664 | www.hilton.com
Formerly the Jury’s Inn. There are rooms which face south, overlooking aircraft on short final to runway 27L, or north/west which look out over part of the airport and the northerly runway. Choose which you’d prefer and make a request on booking. It’s wise to check the likely runway direction in use beforehand.
North Terminal, Gatwick Airport RH6 0PH | +44 1293 567070 | www.sofitel.com
Another good option at Gatwick is the Sofitel, situated at the North Terminal, and linked via monorail from the South Terminal. Rooms on the higher floors facing the airport have unrivalled views of aircraft movements to both terminals.
If you’ve stayed in any of these hotels and have a good tip on the best rooms to ask for, or some advice from your experiences, leave a comment below to help fellow spotters out!
All of these hotels and many more are covered in our book Airport Spotting Hotels, available from this link: https://destinworld.com/product/airport-spotting-hotels/