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24 July 2017


the night before our verrrry early flight out of stansted airport, bound for marseille to take on the cheapflights challenge, i decided to finally take the plunge and stay the night in an airport hotel. i'd heard of friends doing the same on nights before red-eye flights as it afforded them that extra bit of sleep in the morning before the flight, and provided some weight off the shoulders when it came to navigating traffic en route. for me, i dreaded the idea of having to get up at three am, get in a cab for an hour, and still worry so much that i'd be late that i got no sleep the night before, so i took the plunge and booked a room at the premier inn at stansted.

was it any cheaper?

this one's hard to say. a room at the stanstead property starts from £62 per night, not including breakfast or any other meals, and doesn't include the shuttle to-and-from the airport. so that's another £3 each way, or £8 if you want to park your car there over night. on top of that, i got a national express coach to the airport, which was only about a tenner. so, all up, that's just under £80 for the stay.

but then, the stansted express  doesn't start running until just after 3 am; i would have had to be on a 3:30 train from liverpool street to make my gate call, but there's no way i could have made that train from my house. i would have had to get a cab - even at least part of the way, in which case, why not just take a cab the whole way? i got a few quotes to compare, and the cheapest was about the £60 mark - including a stop at ben's to pick him up on the way. so, leaving at 3:30 am we'd have spent about £60 to get to the airport by the time my gate was called. so i suppose, no. i wasn't any cheaper.

was there less worry?

oh, hell yes! once i was tucked up in that bed, knowing the airport was a stone's throw away from the hotel, i was totally chill. i knew what times the shuttle would be by to pick us up, i knew i could walk to the airport in a pinch, i knew i was no more than a five minute cab away if all else failed, and that was a really great feeling. 

did i get more sleep?

well, that was the idea. i was in bed nice and early, tv off, phone down, and fresh as a daisy from a nice hot shower (with a shower curtain that magically did not stick to my legs! the dream!), ready to fall asleep with ease. except, despite the super comfy bed, the extra plush pillows, and the totally quiet room (honestly, never been in such a quiet hotel!), i couldn't fall asleep. i get pretty bad travel anxiety, and toss and turn the night before i go anywhere, worried i've forgotten something, i've not set an alarm, or that my flight will be cancelled, and despite being totally chilled out, this time was no different.

but i don't think that was helped by the fact that ben was at work until just gone 11 pm and then had to get to the airport, and then had to get to the hotel, and then had to get into the room, into bed, chill out, and try to sleep a bit before our 4 am wake up. you can probably guess that that didn't entirely happen that way, but i'm quite sure that if we had both been there at a reasonable time, then yes: i would have got more sleep.

does the holiday start sooner?

yes! being in a hotel always feels a bit like a holiday already, so it did actually make it seem like the holiday started earlier than it was supposed to. i suppose being tired on a red-eye flight is totally normal, and it's not a real holiday if you don't buy super overpriced coffee once you're through security far too early and locked in a pen waiting to board, so having the comfy bed and tea and coffee facilities in the room with us was nice; we got to beat the morning blues by avoiding the overspend, got to spend a little longer in bed than we would have if we'd stayed at home, and certainly had a lot more peace of mind than we normally do the day-of an early flight. 

all in all, i think the benefits to my mental health in staying nearer to the airport prior to an early-morning flight definitely outweigh the negatives that can really only be attributed to cost. money isn't everything, and i think i would happily spend the night in another airport hotel before an early trip, purely for the novelty of doing so, and because of how relaxed being so close to my flight made me feel. it can't just be me that feels that way, so what say you: airport hotels - are they worth it?

*our stay at premier inn stansted was complimentary, but all thoughts are mine. 

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