Category Archives: Travel

Arranging a hotel and parking at Gatwick airport: testing the APH offer

Arranging a hotel and parking at Gatwick airport – or indeed  Heathrow, Luton or Stansted as well, I travel frequently from all of them – is always a major headache. This could be to do with the fact I usually leave it to the very last minute, pretty much just before I set off,  or sometimes the night before if I’m particularly organised. Either way, it’s usually a case of panic-Googling until I find something that looks not too expensive or too cheap (you read horror stories of cars being dumped in a field or driven for miles while the owner is away) and then just going for it.

airport parking
You won’t be short of choices when it comes to airport parking, but that could make it hard to know which option to go for
Organising airport parking

So when I was given the chance to try out Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) I thought this would be a chance for me to be organised for once. The concept is simple enough: you go online and put in the details of your trip, where you’re flying from, whether you want to include a hotel stay the night before and whether you’d like off-airport parking or a meet-and-greet service. APH has its own off-site car parks at Gatwick, Manchester and Birmingham airports but also offer on-site parking and meet and greet services via third parties and has been going since 1980 so that seemed reassuring, plus the fact it won the ‘Best Airport Parking Company’ award at the British Travel Awards 2018 for a ninth year running.

The first time I’d used APH

Having tried everything from parking at Gatwick’s own official car parks to meet-and-greet at the airport itself, to other off-site airport parking services, this was the first time I used APH but the booking process and emailed instructions were very clear. As my flight was at stupid o’clock in the morning (check in at 5am) I was put up in a nearby hotel, the Crowne Plaza Felbridge – and I was given two booking codes – one for the hotel and one for the parking. Each code accessed detailed instructions online of how to get to each location and how much time to leave for each journey (APH recommends you get to the parking site 45 minutes before the earliest check in time) so I felt in safe hands.

Crowne Plaza Felbridge
I spent the night (well, until 4am) at the nearby Crowne Plaza hotel in Felbridge
Staying at the Crowne Plaza Felbridge

The hotel was far smarter than I’d expected, with a 116 bedrooms and even a indoor pool with sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. My room wasn’t vast but had everything I needed – TV, bath, kettle, iron etc – and my only complaint would be that it was up quite a lot of stairs and there wasn’t a lift – which meant hauling my luggage up and down to my room. As  it was such an early start the next day there was just time for a quick swim and sandwich in my room (my stay was room only) before all too soon it was 4am and time to get up and out.

indoor pool
The indoor pool at the Crowne Plaza Felbridge
hotel bedroom
My bedroom at the Crowne Plaza Felbridge hotel
Getting to the APH car park

The APH car park was ten minutes along some winding Sussex lanes and next to the Wyevale garden centre which was a handy marker. There I parked my car, checked my car keys in – there was a lot of activity for that time in the morning but the short queue moved fast – and then hopped on the transfer bus which was handily waiting to take me and my fellow travellers the 12 or so minute journey to Gatwick.

APH car park
Checking in at the APH car park near Gatwick Airport
Getting my car back after the holiday

After a very enjoyable week wine-tasting in Cyprus (article to follow later) the return journey was equally smooth. I’d been given a card with instructions on what to do when I landed, namely text my booking reference to a phone number and then follow signs for the off-airport buses. A short wait at the bus stop later and then the transfer bus arrived to take us back to the APH car park.

transfer bus airport parking
The transfer takes around 12 minutes to Gatwick Airport

Overall the whole process was very smooth and there were no hiccups on the way. It’s definitely an option to consider, although people with children or lots of luggage might prefer an on-airport car park or even a meet and greet service where you just drop your car off at the terminal itself, cutting out the transfer buses. However there’s no denying that at around £100 for a hotel stay and a week’s worth of parking (prices vary depending on time of year) it’s very good value compared with parking-only options which are of a similar prices but without the night in the hotel beforehand. Whatever you decide – enjoy your holiday!

My hotel stay and car parking were courtesy of APH hotels. Airport Parking and Hotels (APH.com) offers a wide range of parking and hotel options at major airports in the UK. One week of parking at APH Gatwick with an overnight stay at Crowne Plaza Felbridge Gatwick costs from just £102 per room. Price is based on travel in June 2019. To book, visit www.aph.com or call 01342 859442.

Also travelling from London Gatwick? Here’s a link to some other hotels recommended by APH: https://www.aph.com/community/holidays/gatwick-guru-aph-gives-the-lowdown-on-gatwicks-best-airport-hotels-for-different-types-of-travellers/

Plus how about some ALadyofLeisure.com favourites? If you stay at one of these before your flight, it’s like having an extra holiday…

Just 9 minutes away from Gatwick…

Langshott Manor, Surrey: regal luxury in an Elizabethan manor house

20 minutes away from Gatwick…

Gravetye Manor – fabulous foodie heaven in a beautiful setting

31 minutes away from Gatwick…

Ashdown Park Hotel & Country Club: a classic country retreat

 

Luxury on a grand scale at the five star Corinthia Hotel London

The first thing that struck me about the five-star Corinthia Hotel in London when I stayed there was how utterly huge everything is. From the vast central lobby lounge with its soaring dome and chandelier made of 1,001 crystal baubles, to the high-ceilinged pillared restaurant, to the  enormous breakfast room, huge ballroom, conference rooms and outside courtyard, everything at the Corinthia is super-sized. Continue reading Luxury on a grand scale at the five star Corinthia Hotel London

Medieval magic with a modern twist at The Swan hotel and spa in Lavenham, Suffolk

Returning to The Swan hotel at Lavenham in Suffolk several years after my original stay, I was relieved to find that it was just as lovely as I remembered it. This time it also had the added attraction of its new (to me) Weavers’ House Spa which had been seamlessly added to the original hotel and included an outdoor hot tub and treatment rooms as well as a steam room, sauna and relaxing conservatory. Continue reading Medieval magic with a modern twist at The Swan hotel and spa in Lavenham, Suffolk

Curry, bagels, fish and chips and bacon butties on a food tour of London’s East End

In just four hours I ate curry, fish and chips, stilton cheese, salt beef bagels, bread and butter pudding, salted caramel cheesecake and a bacon sandwich. With ketchup. Why? You might well ask. It was because I had decided to be a tourist in London for the day. And my day was all the better for it.

Continue reading Curry, bagels, fish and chips and bacon butties on a food tour of London’s East End

A spookily moving 48 hours in Derry Northern Ireland

If it’s ghouls, ghosts and goblins you’re after, then you have to visit to Derry in Northern Ireland at the end of October for its epic Halloween festival. Derry was voted ‘Best Halloween destination in the world’ by American newspaper USA Today and the entire town goes Halloween-crazy for an entire week leading up to the big day itself.

Continue reading A spookily moving 48 hours in Derry Northern Ireland

A festive round-up of the best luxury country house hotels for Christmas

My guide on the best luxury hotels for the Christmas break – this was written for Christmas 2018 but will certainly be useful if you’re already thinking of 2019! Continue reading A festive round-up of the best luxury country house hotels for Christmas

How to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu – and enjoy the journey!

It had been a lifetime dream for me: to find out how to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu in Peru. Now, for the last four days, I had been hiking through stunning Peruvian mountains to reach my destination, the famous UNESCO World Heritage site of Machu Picchu itself. But sitting on the ground under a make-shift bus shelter in the dark at 3am waiting to be allowed onto the final stage of the trek, I found that I really didn’t want the journey to end. It had been such an amazing, challenging and memorable experience just to get to this point, that reaching my goal was going to be surprisingly bitter sweet. Continue reading How to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu – and enjoy the journey!