My flight to Genoa tomorrow morning leaves so early from Gatwick that getting here by train wasn’t an option. A mini cab would cost around £50 so paying £62 for a room at the Premier Inn right on the North Terminal site seemed an irresistible temptation – especially as it would buy me an extra hour in bed. There’s a big difference between getting up at 4.30am rather than 3.30am.
The only time I’ve stayed at Gatwick before it was at the Sofitel next door. But that was about 3 or 4 years ago and their price has gone up significantly and I didn’t want to pay a lot for just a convenient bed for the night. So, I’d heard good things about Premier Inns and it seemed a good opportunity to try one out.
This one is well geared up to make an overnight stop as easy as possible for travellers. I was able to check in online yesterday. When I arrived there were plenty of assistants to greet me and show me how to work the check-in machines and get my room key. It was also recommended that if I wanted to eat in the restaurant I should book; so I did.
The lift took me up to the 5th floor and I entered my room. It’s a functional but perfectly nice room.
There’s a sofa that can clearly be made up into an extra bed if maybe you were travelling with a child. I like that there’s a kettle with tea bags and milk, especially I won’t have time for breakfast as I need to be at security by 5. However, breakfast starts at 5.00am – clearly catering to earlier travellers – so useful for many. Meanwhile, I can at least have a cup of tea when I get up.
Some paintings brighten the room over a desk. Unsurprisingly the view isn’t up to much – but then I am on an airport! Downstairs by reception there’s a Costa Coffee to buy snacks and a decent coffee. Of all the chains, Costa is by far my preferred one. But then they’re owned by Whitbread who also own Premier Inns so it’s unsurprising that’s the choice.
As I settled into the room the phone rang. I’m so unused to a hotel room phone ringing I was a bit taken aback. But at the other end a friendly voice asked if I was happy with my room and said not to hesitate to call reception if there was anything I needed. Great service!
I’d booked to eat at 6.30. I’d tried for 7 but that wasn’t available (so booking was good advice) and with a very early start tomorrow, earlier seemed better than later. Around 6.00 I went down to have an aperitif in the bar. There was no ‘glass’ of prosecco on offer but a small 200ml bottle at £5.99. That was OK though it’s a bit hard to understand why they can’t offer glasses and as I wanted a glass of wine with my meal, and not to drink too much, I didn’t finish the small bottle. But it was a nice enough place to sit and relax and start to get into holiday mood.
I moved through to the dining area at 6.30. It’s a large area but split into more intimate smaller areas, which works well. I ordered a glass of Gavi di Gavi (getting into the Italian mood – £4.95) though chose an Asian curry dish to eat. There’s a huge choice from steaks and burgers, to pizza, salads, light meals and Mediterranean dishes. Something for everyone.
I didn’t want a big meal and ordered just a main course of ‘Chicken Katsu Curry’ – breaded chicken with mild curry sauce, ‘fluffy basmati rice’ and a crisp mixed side salad (£12.49).
It was OK though not great. The chicken was tender, the breaded coating crisp but the taste fairly dull. However its mediocrity was positively outweighed by exceptionally friendly and efficient service. For me, it’s definitely true that good food can be ruined by poor service but one is very forgiving of indifferent food when it’s served with a big smile and very efficiently.
Back in my room I’m able to make myself a mint tea (I’m travelling with a variety of tea bags as I know my hotel in Genoa also provides a kettle – one of my best ‘loves’ of hotels; a small gesture that goes a long way to making a happy stay). And I’m getting into one of my holiday books, Eric Newby’s A Small Place in Italy.
The brilliant Eric Newby (1919-2006) was one of our greatest ever travel writers. This book about his Italian home, I Castagni, on the Liguria/Tuscany border seemed like perfect reading for my trip to Liguria. And just three chapters in, I’m loving it.