As I mentioned in my recent review of the YOTEL's premium cabin, I've spent a lot of time traveling through London's Heathrow (LHR) airport. Often with a layover. I've stayed at many airport hotel properties at LHR over the years including the Hilton and Sofitel properties that are attached to the airport. Despite the luxuries offered by those properties, especially the Sofitel, I've come to rely on the YOTEL as my first choice when staying at LHR on an overnight layover.
It's easy to see that the YOTEL doesn't really compete with the offerings of a Hilton or a Sofiten, so you may be asking yourself why this is the case. Well, it's because the YOTEL is easy to access and offers a relatively inexpensive place to rest with a very straight forward product as compared to the price and hassle of the other options.
Most of Heathrow's airport hotels are located offsite and require the use of the absurdly named "Hotel Hoppa" bus to access, meaning guests need to pay cash out of pocket to get to the property and then sit on a bus for 5-20 minutes to get to the property. There are several routes that the Hotel Hoppa traverse, so you also need to take the time to figure out which of the buses you need to queue up for, which isn't too difficult but is still time and effort after what is likely to have been a long flight.
YOTEL's location inside Terminal 4 means all it takes is a quick hop on Heathrow's Express train if you land at another terminal (or none if you land at T4) for no fee and an escalator ride before you're relaxing in your pod. Not as spacious or fancy as other options, but within balance it's what I find the best value.
My last review I detailed the layout and perks of the premium cabin, the nicest offering by the YOTEL at Heathrow. While the premium cabin is nice, I've made much more use of their standard cabin, though. If you thought the premium cabin was a bit sparse and a tight fit, the standard offering is twice as much so. YOTEL's standard cabin is a riff off the infamous Japanese capsule hotel concept, which are groupings of what are often described as "coffin-like" beds.
The YOTEL's standard cabin has slightly more space than the Japanese capsules, but significantly less than even your tiniest hotel room. When you walk into the cabin you have just enough room to walk into the space. Forget about room to turn around and even stretch after a long flight, there's barely room to scratch your nose. This is the view standing at the door once I'd closed it behind me.
As you can see, it's pretty much standing room only. There really is a very limited amount of space and I will be the first person to tell you - this isn't the type of lodging for everyone. If you're a bit of a pampered traveler, or you're the type that really likes room to unwind after being trapped in a metal tube for hours on end, this definitely is not for you. If you suffer from anxiety in confined spaces, this is also not for you.
But for those who are okay with a finding good value and just the slightest bit of roughing it, you might find this a good option.
Directly in front of the door is a mirror with a small shelf built into it. A single glass for water along with brochures outlining how the room works and the YOTEL's offerings adorn the it. Above the mirror is a storage rack. There isn't enough room on the floor for luggage and your feet, so the storage rack allows you to keep your luggage out of the way and you moving. The rack also functions as a location where you can hang clothing. Also, the mirror had a nub at the top where you could place a hanger. These worked well for me as I pulled out my clothes for the next day to let the wrinkles fall out, and also stored my coat.
Directly below the mirror was a row of outlets for charging your various personal electronics, though they only offered British and European style receptors. I always travel with adapters/transformers but for those who assume that hotels will have universal outlets, beware.
The blue square folded up with a latching mechanism underneath, giving you a small little table to use. I don't ever end up using this table but if you wanted to work on your computer or get a grab a mobile meal in the terminal (there's a few restaurants and a WH Smith's right by the YOTEL) this gives you space to do so. With the limited space, you're probably wondering where you'd even sit down though. Easy - there's a collapsible mesh stool with no back folded up on the back of the door. You can see it in the mirror a few pictures above.
It's hardly the most comfortable seating option in the world, but it does get the job done in the limited space. I don't eat in the small space but I do work on my computer often, and I choose to lounge in the bed while doing so primarily because of this stool. I have a pretty sensitive back when I'm sitting down if there's not a back on the seat to rest against, so this is a no-go for me. Luckily, the bed is pretty comfortable.
Elevated off the floor like a bunk bed without a bottom bunk is a little nook where the sleeping area is located. It's the size of a twin mattress and comes with two pillows. No super-heavy blankets on top if you happen to be a sleeper that's often cold, but the room temperature is pretty well regulated. The majority of the walls surrounding the bed area as well as the opening to the nook are padded for protection, so no need to worry about bumping into something in the limited space provided, you're unlikely to hurt yourself. Unlike the Japanese capsule hotels, the bunks here have much more head clearance, so it's "coffin-esque" as opposed to "pretty much a coffin".
The ledge above the pillows has a telephone in case you need to make a call, and there's a panel of switches on the wall outside the nook where you can control the lights in the room. Unpictured but definitely welcomed was a television that was built into the wall at the foot of the bed. A selection of British programming and news outlets are available for your viewing pleasure.
In keeping with the "there but out of the way" model of the room, you have to drop down a step below the entrance of the nook to get into the bed. I highly recommend closing this back up immediately after you've stepped down because this always seems to be the one thing in the room that I smack into unwittingly due to the small amount of space. The last thing you want when traveling is a banged up leg, so slam this thing shut whenever you're not in the bed to minimize any opportunity for shin-to-metal contact.
The remainder of the room is taken up by the bathroom facilities. One thing to note - while the premium cabin has a rather large glass partition separating the bathroom area from the remainder of the room, the standard cabin has only a small portion of wall and a rather flimsy shower curtain. It's not a big deal from a privacy standpoint as the room is only designed for a single occupant, but it does mean there's literally almost nothing stopping the humidity from running a shower from permeating the entire cabin. Keep it quick otherwise you'll end up with a sauna. On the other hand, this could be a plus if you're looking to get some wrinkles out of your clothing that's hanging on the rack since the room has no iron. Lemons = lemonade.
As you can see there's a toilet with a built-in towel rack above it.
In front of the toilet is a sink, located close enough so that you can lean over and rest your head during a particularly long session. The hand soap (which doubles as shower gel) is in a pump container attached to the wall. A small waste basket is below the sink. The mirror stretches along the entirety of the wall of the bathroom area, a design element I suppose is meant to make the cabin feel larger.
The shower is in the corner. Again, make sure you're careful about how long you're showering as the humidity in the cabin can rise very quickly. Also, be careful about washing yourself too vigorously, it's pretty easy to get water into the living area or even further back into the bathroom area where the toilet paper is exposed.
To emphasize the small amount of space once again, note that I took ALL of these photos standing in the very same spot. I didn't need to move at all to capture all of this.
As I noted in my review of the premium cabin, the standard cabins also have windows that look out into the hallway, however these are much smaller than the ones in the premium cabin. Still, you should remember to close the blinds on the window to prevent people walking through the hallway from having a gander inside your space where you may or may not be wearing enough clothing.
This definitely isn't the Four Seasons, but for my budget and needs the YOTEL works out pretty well. Sometimes I spring for the premium cabin, but the standard cabin's simplicity and the ease of access to the airport suits me just fine on most trips. I could likely get a pretty good deal on an actual hotel in the area, but the only hotels close enough to access without paying for the hotel shuttle service are unlikely to ever be priced competitively with what the YOTEL offers. The additional space and upgraded amenities of a real hotel just aren't worth the hassle of the bus service at LHR in my personal opinion. You may disagree.
So this is where I hang my hat at Heathrow. Eating shrimp & rocket sandwiches from WH Smith's in my twin bed nook with my leg hanging into the void while watching British music videos.
The glamour of travel, folks!