Why I Keep Returning to My Least Favorite Hotel in London
Many years back, I checked into the Sheraton Heathrow after winning a bid on Priceline. It was incredibly cheap—something like $30-40 for the night, as I recall.
At the time I was still new to the world of branded hotels. A few times a year, I might stay in a Starwood or Hilton property. I spent the rest of the nights in hostels, guesthouses, or on the couches of kind hosts. Arriving at the Sheraton Heathrow for the first time, I remember thinking, huh, this hotel is a little weird—but hey, it’s a hotel!
Everything about it was dismal, from the carpeting in the public guest floor areas to the tiny, unclean rooms, right on down to the attitude of the staff, who didn’t seem particularly pleased to be working there.
As I traveled more and more, I returned to the Sheraton Heathrow a couple times a year. Each time I had more experience in staying at other hotels, and finally I came to the realization: it’s not me—this place is just really bad.
Don’t get me wrong. London, like New York, is a tough market for hotels. Even most of the four-star places in either city are just okay. I’m not sure if it’s because of the continual invasion of tourists, the grip of labor unions on staffing issues, of just “life in the big city,” but while I love London and New York for lots of reasons, having a great place to stay when I visit isn’t one of them.
Nevertheless, even by the standards of very low expectations, the Sheraton Heathrow sucks. It’s almost comically bad—and in a weird way, I started appreciating its poor performance.
My friend Ben wrote a blog post called “How Bad Is the Sheraton London Heathrow Hotel?” which isn’t a rhetorical question by any stretch. There’s a clear answer: the Sheraton Heathrow is really bad. Here are a few photos and comments from his post:
“So yeah, the hotel does look like a bit like a funeral home from the outside… And the theme continues with the elevators.”
“The dreary hallways with random couches are a bit odd, the club lounge reception seems to be a furniture storage area of sorts, and yes, you’d think they’d have more than a total of three tables in the club lounge at a hotel frequented by Platinum members…”
“…I guess that’s why they only have three tables in the club lounge, since I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to spend any time there.”
I agree completely with his assessment.
The interesting thing is that there’s now another Sheraton at Heathrow that is much nicer. It’s called the Sheraton Skyline, and if you make a booking at either property, be sure to take the right shuttle bus, since they’re on a different route. The Skyline isn’t terribly expensive, but it also isn’t cheap.
As bad as the original Sheraton is, I keep going back. It’s still reliably cheap, sometimes as little as $60 when booked directly through Starwood. Try finding another full-service hotel (well, admittedly this is an exaggeration when it comes to this property) with shuttle service to Heathrow anywhere close to that price. And strangely, it’s not just the price: every so often, I actually like to stay there.
Last week I was there for a night and it was just fine. Not only did I have low expectations, I actually expected something to go wrong. Then, in another weird way, I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t a disaster. (File under: this guest is hard to please.)
So yeah, I’m probably just weird. If you’re ever spending the night near LHR after a late flight or before an early one, first consider staying at the Sheraton Skyline or any other decent property. But if you want an adventure in mediocrity, go and check out the Sheraton Heathrow.
It’s really bad. And you just might like it.
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