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Heathrow Haven

Heathrow Airport in London, England, is a challenging obstacle course for even the most experienced traveler. All the more reason you need, after a long flight, or before an early morning one, a relaxing and comfortable hotel room nearby. The Holiday Inn London Heathrow fills the bill admirably.

The hotel, opened in August 2000, is a welcoming haven. Its airy and stylish lobby sets the scene, sweeping from check-in desk to modern bar to the restaurant. It is clear that taste and attention were paid to the décor.

Check-in was quick and efficient. Being a new hotel, the desk clerk forgot to mention how the lights in the room worked, and I couldn't figure out this new-to-me system. It seems as you enter you put your key card in a slot inside the door, thus activating the lights. When you leave the room, you, of course, take your key card with you, automatically turning off the lights. A great system once you figure it out.

My room was an executive one, which meant it had upgraded toiletries, large plush towels, terry robes and a comfortable lounge chair. The carpet in the room was lush, matching the wallpaper above the wainscoting. A large luggage area, TV and desk filled one side of the room with plenty of space left to spread everything out.

I was particularly impressed with the spacious, brightly decorated, all tile bathroom. A handy basin was fitted into the corner allowing for a large three-way mirror on the wall. There was a sufficient amount of counter space, always a plus in a bathroom. Unlike many British hotels, this one had cold and hot water combined (as in North America), and the shower had great pressure. A fresh flower in a vase was a pleasant home-away-from-home touch.

The bed had a comfortable mattress, always a nice surprise to find in Britain. The one and only negative thing about the room was the quality of the bed linens. Hopefully, as these brand new sheets are washed and used many times, they will soften. Otherwise, the room and the hotel were top notch, one of the best I've stayed in at Heathrow, and certainly great value for the money.

Although the window looked directly at the airport, the runways and the busy road below, I found the room incredibly quiet. This was due to triple glazing. The room was fully air-conditioned and I liked the fact that I could adjust the temperature and fan. At the same time, if I wanted to open the window, I could. I liked having this option.

I was particularly impressed with the flexibility of the restaurant, Wings. I arrived between lunch and dinner when it was closed. I needed something to eat, and the restaurant accommodated me without question and brought just what I wanted, a large green salad with lots of delicious sliced chicken. The dinner menu is quite impressive. Starters such as galia melon with elderflower syrup and berries or salad of smoked duck with pine nuts and honey and mustard dressing tell you it is a cut above the ordinary. Two of the main courses on offer were monkfish marinated in Indian spices served with wild rice and spiced vegetables or pot roast chicken breast served with a compote of beetroot, shallots, garlic and red onions and lattice potatoes. Vegetarian selections were also available. Desserts included a cheese board, poached pears, apricot and brandy flan and more. A full choice of wines was offered.

Both breakfast and lunch consist of buffet meals.

Essential Information:

Holiday Inn London Heathrow is located at Bath Road/Sipson Way, West Drayton, Middlesex, UB7 0DP, less than 5 minutes from the M25 and M4 junction 4. Phone 020 8990 0000; fax 020 8564 7744. Email: Enquiries at London Heathrow Holiday Inn.

The hotel is two minutes from the main airport terminals via the West Ramp onto Bath Road. The hotel is fifteen minutes from central London via the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station, which will take you to the airport. At the airport can catch a taxi (3 minutes) or Hopabus (15 minutes) to the hotel.

230 rooms including non-smoking, executive, standard and physically challenged.

In-house movies and email TV Secure underground parking, full business centre, conference and meeting rooms, gift shop, mini gym.

Rates vary according to type of room and season of year. Check out the website Holiday Inn.

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