Imagine the scenario, you are about to go on your main summer holiday with your wife. You have a long, maybe 4 hour plus drive to the airport and you are flying early the next day. In this scenario you want to be looking for good airport hotels with parking. You have lots of hotel loyalty points but these won’t get you free parking.
How are you going to get a good deal on accommodation and airport parking at hotels near Heathrow?
Well, by shopping around I managed to find a great deal for a Heathrow Airport Hotel. When you add the fact that my hotel came with parking included I was onto a good thing. Even better was that at the time of booking it was actually cheaper to pay than redeeming my hotel points!
When I booked the hotel in May it was for a June stay. And my smart booking tip was cheaper than using hotel loyalty points for the same big name hotel! Now that I am writing this in October the pricing has changed a little. So much so that now it would actually be around £30 more to use this booking tip than to redeem hotel points. (I guess this is the effect of the UK peak holiday season.) Yet £30 for a 4 star hotel room is still a great deal. I still think this is a great way to get cheap hotels by the airport.
So what did I do to get such a good deal on airport hotels with parking?
Well first of all I shopped around. We had already booked our flight plans so knew what we wanted and when.
I’d redeemed my BA Avios points to fly my bride and I direct to Zurich from Heathrow Terminal 5. (For more information on collecting and redeeming frequent flyer points such as Avios with BA check out my book.)
Our flight was early in the morning so we were going to take the 4 hour+ drive from Yorkshire down to Heathrow the night before. As a result we wanted to look at hotels close to the airport with parking.
Normally, if I am travelling alone I’d be open to the idea of budget as well as luxury hotels near the airport. Yet since this was our main holiday I wanted a bit of a fancy place and to treat my bride.
I don’t recall anything fancy arising with Accor so I ended up using their points for our hotel in Zurich.
This left me with Marriott rewards. This wasn’t such a bad thing since typically Marriott are my favourite chain of hotels anyway. I looked on their website and one place jumped out as an obvious choice for a hotel near Heathrow Terminal 5. It was the 4 star Marriott Windsor hotel.
As a plush hotel I’d have to redeem quite a few points for a stay but this was fine. I have quite a few points banked and it was the start of our trip. Yet when looking at the Rewards I couldn’t see any mention of parking being included within the reward booking. Also a separate Heathrow “Hoppa” bus had to be caught between the terminal and hotel. (More costs to be paid for.)
I rang Marriott to see if parking was included within the reward booking. They said it wasn’t and parking had to be paid for. If memory serves me correctly, for June 2015 they said parking cost £15 / night. So at 7 nights that is £105, wow!
I am now writing this article in September/October 2015 and the website shows the parking fee is £10 / night. So either my memory is incorrect on the £15 / night charge or the rates vary with the holiday season.
There is then the bus to and from Heathrow Airport. This was going to cost £8 each for a return ticket if booked in advance online, or £9 each if bought on the day of travel.
All of a sudden this reward booking did not look like a favourable option.
So I began looking at other search tools. I considered airport parking websites such as Heathrow Airport Parking .
The offers were great but we needed a hotel too. Maybe one at the terminal?
I looked at some amalgamated hotel search sites including my favourite one, hotels.com . Also one of the best flight search engine tools is great for hotel searches too. However nothing really stood out as cost effective with parking and combined luxury with an attractive price..
Was it really that difficult to find reasonably priced airport hotels with parking included in the price?
I then considered the lower price chain of hotels such as Premier Inn and Travelodge. Again nothing quite felt right or parking/shuttles/distance made it less appealing. Also the heavily discounted promotional offers for such as £30 a night didn’t apply because I was late for these offers.
I was almost in the mindset to go ahead with the luxury of my reward booking and pay the parking and extras. To be honest this was always something I was prepared to do but I love a bargain.
Then just before making that step I decided to make one last search.
I went onto a website which offers lots of travel related extras such as airport parking and lounge access. Since it is so good at those areas I never really gave it a second thought about hotels until now.
Then it came up with a hotel search function which allowed me to search for hotels close to Heathrow Airport.
The usual suspects cropped up as I’d seen elsewhere. For around £80-£90 I could get a lower grade hotel with paid parking as an extra. I could opt for this but my mind was set on some luxury. It was the main holiday of the year and I felt we deserved a treat.
Then something which I normally ignore popped up. It was one of those mystery hotel options. You know the ones where the booking is non-cancellable and you don’t know exactly what hotel it is until you’ve paid and committed to it.
Normally I avoid these since I’m worried about travel plans changing last minute. Mind you isn’t that what travel insurance is for? (I always buy travel insurance but often don’t think this through.)
The offer for this one was a mystery 4 star hotel, with parking for the full week that we required. Also included was transport to and from the terminal for both of us. At less than £120 in total this was looking to be a good deal. Especially compared to paying for a lower price hotel then adding parking charges on top.
I was in and went ahead and made the payment.
Then when I’d completed this I was able to find out exactly where we had booked. I couldn’t believe it (as once said by Victor Meldrew). It was the exact same hotel I’d looked at in the first instance. Yes it was the Marriott Windsor hotel!
So for this price we had a wonderful room, parking included (no £15 a day charges) plus return trips for both of us on the Heathrow Hoppa bus.
It just got better and better. When I checked in I also showed my Marriott Rewards Elite status card and we received a complimentary room upgrade and free access to the private hotel lounge for nibbles and drinks. Nice.
So if we add it up I received the following:-
Parking for 7 days @ £15/day (rate for the summer) = £105
Hoppa Bus return tickets for 2 people = £ 16
4 star hotel room £???
So it would have cost more than £121 yet I paid £116.50
If hotel parking was only £10 a day then the above prices would be £81 plus the cost of a room. So either way I think it is an amazing bargain. I was also able to keep my reward points and use them for some other occasion or trip away.
So which website did I use to find this deal? You will find it by clicking here.
Have you ever landed on any great hotel deals especially if looking for airport hotels with parking. Please tell me your success stories in the comments section below.