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10 great alternatives to airport hotels

by Adrian Mourby

It’s that time of year again when, if we aren't enjoying the delights of Britain during the summer, we head off abroad. As we plan our trip to the airport we realise that our flight is so horribly early we’d better book into a hotel nearby. And while there are some very good airport hotels out there, most are so basic it’s hardly an exciting start to the holiday. The wrong hotel can even put a dampener on your vacation. But widen your net by just a few miles and you’d be surprised how many excellent hotels there are within a quick taxi ride to the terminal. I have spent some time in airport hotels. I have spent time in hotels that are near airports too and I know which I prefer. In fact some of them have been so good I haven’t wanted to leave for my flight. So here’s my selection of ten of the best for the summer of 2015.

Showing below are all 5 records in "10 great alternatives to airport hotels"

Langshott Manor (Hotel)

Langshott Lane, Langshott, Horley

Langshott Manor, Langshott Lane, Horley, Surrey

Take the Gatwick Express down to Gatwick and once you come out of the station it’s less than five miles in the direction of Horley to the beautiful Tudor mansion of Langshott Manor. The hotel, which was restored in Victorian times, has a number of four-poster rooms and some of them even overlook a very calming duck pond that used to be part of the moat. If you’re breakfasting early before your flight you may even find the ducks will come and ask to be fed. It’s a world away from the queues and bustle of Gatwick’s two massive terminals and it’s clear the staff really like working here. It has an excellent restaurant too

The Runnymede on Thames (Hotel)

Windsor Road, Egham

The Runnymede on Thames, Windsor Road, Egham, Surrey

Who would have thought that just over four miles from Heathrow there is a riverside hotel where you can relax before your flight by hiring a Hot Tug. This boat-shaped hot tub floats, with a large bath time duck on its prow, down in the middle of the Thames. The Runnymede also has two launches – and a captain for hire – if you want to explore the river properly. The hotel has three restaurants for that last meal in England, including the scenic Lock Bar named after the Bell Weir Lock where, if you have time before your flight, you can watch the English go messing about in boats.

Malmaison - Liverpool (Hotel)

7 William Jessop Way, Liverpool

Malmaison - Liverpool, 7 William Jessop Way, Liverpool, Merseyside

Malmaison usually converts existing buildings into hotels, but in Liverpool they’ve created their first purpose-built Mal, a distinctive eleven-storey glass structure decorated inside in characteristic purples and blacks, and with fine views of the famous Royal Liver Building nearby. As ever the reliable delights of the Malbar and the Malburger menu are available downstairs and from the hotel’s position on Princess Dock it’s just ten miles south along the Mersey to Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

Hotel du Vin - Bristol (Hotel)

The Sugar House, Narrow Lewins Mead, Bristol

Hotel du Vin - Bristol, The Sugar House, Bristol

One of the newest hotels in Bristol is the conversion of an eighteenth-century sugar factory of which Bristol had over twenty in its industrial heyday back in the eighteenth century. With its Janneau Bar, duplex bedrooms and distressed brickwork bistro, this is about as unlike an airport hotel as you can get. Nine miles away on the A38 through Redcliffe and Bedminster lies the rural Bristol Airport, a pleasant 20-minute drive if you time it right. Ask advice at reception about that.

Mar Hall Golf & Spa Resort (Hotel)

Earl of Mar Estate, Bishopton, Glasgow

Mar Hall Golf & Spa Resort, Earl of Mar Estate, Glasgow, Renfrewshire

Splendid Mar Hall, built to designs by the architect of the British Museum, is nothing like an airport hotel and yet it’s remarkably close to Glasgow airport. As both are on the northeast side of the city it’s actually much more convenient to stay the night at Mar Hall than to trek into Glasgow in search of a hotel. Just ten minutes north in the car will bring you to this dignified five-star country house hotel with its magnificent views of the Kirkpatrick Hills. There is a stately Cristal Dining Room lit by seven 20-foot tall windows and a lot of locally sourced items on the menu. And just think: everyone else is currently at Starbucks or Tennents’ Pier Bar down at the airport.

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