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Unless you live near the airport you are travelling from, staying at an airport hotel the night before travelling can be a good plan. It will significantly reduce your stress and maximise your sleep, especially for early flights. However, the cost of airport hotels can vary wildly and could add a significant extra expense to your trip.
My criteria for an airport hotel are simple: within 15mins drive of the airport, good soundproofing, and a clean room. I don’t care about frills as I’ll generally arrive around 9pm – travelling down after work and just want to go to sleep. Breakfast is not often a consideration as I will usually eat in the lounge at the airport.
Over the past year I’ve booked a number of airport hotels, and consistently found one option to come out way ahead of the competition: Premier Inn.
But they don’t award loyalty points, elite status or cashback!
I know. Heresy!
However there comes a point where the cash savings outweigh any points or elite status benefits. The tipping point may shift slightly if you have special offers or status targets to hit that will bring you future value. Generally in my experience however, it has been a no brainer.
Let’s take a look at some examples, choosing the cheapest rate & property for each major chain:
London Heathrow Tues 11th Sept 2018.
Hilton: £135 (Garden Inn)
Marriott: £87 (Moxy)
SPG: £141 (Sheraton)
IHG: £105 (Holiday Inn Ariel)
Premier Inn: £51.50 (Terminal 4)
All of the above are pre-paid rates. Even against the cheapest chain option – it’s a £35.50 saving. Unless I was really desperate for Marriott stay credits, I’d take the £35 cash saving every time – and the other brands at a £50+ saving wouldn’t even get a look in.
This doesn’t even take into account the location. The Premier Inn T4 is connected to Terminal 4 via a walkway and opened in May 2017 so is “brand new” by hotel standards. It is an easy free local bus connection right outside the hotel to T5, or you can use the HEX/Tube to connect to other terminals from T4. This is my “go to” hotel for Heathrow stays – even if the water pressure in the shower isn’t the best!
Now this is looking at a stay about 1 month away… what if we look for February half term next year at Manchester?
Manchester Airport Fri 15th Feb 2019:
Hilton: £94 (Hilton)
Marriott: £83 (Marriott)
IHG: £63 (Holiday Inn Express)
Premier Inn: £35 (Runger Lane South)
In this case, as we’re looking further in advance and not in London, the rates are a bit more reasonable for the chain hotels. However – you’re still looking at a £28 saving for the Premier Inn vs the HIX – which are located next to each other. Both charge for parking, so even factoring this in still results in a saving.
Again this level of cash saving would mean I’d pick the Premier Inn over the HIX unless I had a lucrative Accelerate target to hit – as a welcome pint of Fosters, a packet of crisps and 1600 IHG Points aren’t worth £28 to me!
Cash before points.
I have been able to consistently find rates around £35-£50 a night at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester through Premier Inn when the big loyalty chains wanted well over £100. Admittedly these are prepaid rates, so if you need some flexibility that will usually cost you another £10-25 per night – but expect the same kind of uplift for the loyalty chains too.
Premier Inn doesn’t always appear on general hotel searches, so be sure to check direct.
No status benefits or base point earning is ever worth spending an additional £50-£100 for an airport hotel to me. I’d rather use that cash towards upgrading my room at my destination or even paying for a whole other trip in Europe on a LCC!
Luxury they are not – but for a good sleep before an early flight at bargain rates? Perfect.