Review: Courtyard London Gatwick Airport

Filed Under: Hotel Reviews, Marriott

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I had just under 24 hours in London, as I was arriving from Calgary at around 11AM, and departing the next morning to Madrid around 10AM. While I would have loved to go into London and spend the day walking around, I decided to just book an airport hotel so that I could work and get some rest.

I recently reviewed the Hilton London Gatwick, so this time around I figured I might as well mix it up. I need some Marriott nights to requalify for status with Marriott this year (I guess I still have to decide on my overall requalification strategy for this year), so I decided to book the Courtyard London Gatwick, which cost ~130USD for my one night stay.

While a Courtyard probably doesn’t make the most interesting review, I’d note that I think it may have been my first stay at a Courtyard ever, and it is a major Marriott brand, so I was keen to check it out.

While it’s not a hotel that’s directly connected to the terminal, the hotel’s website does note that it’s “a short walk from the South Terminal of Gatwick Airport,” and I don’t mind walking.

My WestJet flight arrived at the North Terminal, so I first took the train to the South Terminal, and then exited the terminal. Once outside the airport I figured there would be some signage towards the Courtyard (given that it’s allegedly only a short walk away), though there wasn’t any.

So I pulled it up on Google Maps, though it still wasn’t clear to me exactly which way to go. The walking directions had me going through the car park, though I repeatedly found myself in situations where I was at dead ends, given that it’s multi-level.

So eventually I tried to call up the hotel, but after waiting on hold for five minutes there was still no answer.

Gatwick Airport terminal

At that point I followed the signage towards the Hilton, figuring that would get me past the maze which is Gatwick Airport. I walked into the lobby of the Hilton on one side, walked out the other end, turned right, then turned left, and then about five minutes later I was at the Courtyard. In the end it took about 30 minutes, which was rather frustrating.

On the way back it was much more logical figuring out which way to go. There is a narrow path the entire way to the airport. The key is that when you exit the South Terminal, make a sharp right and keep walking along the outside roadway, even in areas where the path is only really narrow. Eventually you’ll then find yourself at the hotel.

Walking to Courtyard London Gatwick

Anyway, after quite an adventure I was happy to finally be at the hotel.


Courtyard London Gatwick entrance


Courtyard London Gatwick exterior

This wasn’t a very modern hotel, though once inside it was… comfortable. Immediately inside the entrance was reception, where I was welcomed by a very friendly staff member who quickly had me checked in.


Courtyard London Gatwick lobby

The focal point of the lobby was the variety of vending machines, though truth be told I really appreciated them — they accepted credit cards, and I grabbed a granola bar and a surprisingly good cappuccino from one of the machines.


Courtyard London Gatwick vending machines

If you don’t want to deal with the walk to & from the terminal, here’s the shuttle schedule provided by the hotel:

Courtyard London Gatwick shuttle schedule

The Courtyard has four floors (plus the lobby level), and I was upgraded to a junior suite located on the third floor, #335. I find that it’s rare to get a suite upgrade at an airport hotel (since many airport hotels have very few suites, given the lack of demand), so I was grateful for that.


Courtyard London Gatwick hallway


Courtyard London Gatwick room exterior

The room itself was outdated but well maintained. Inside the entrance and to the right was a desk.


Courtyard London Gatwick junior suite

Past that was a living and dining area — this included a dining table with four chairs, as well as a loveseat.


Courtyard London Gatwick junior suite

Then in the back left corner of the room was the bed. The bed was comfortable, though the pillows were on the small side (I’m a full-on pillow cuddler, which presents a challenge at many hotels).


Courtyard London Gatwick junior suite

There was a dresser with a TV right across from the bed. The TV didn’t really swivel, though I guess you could lift it and turn it around if you preferred to watch TV from the table or loveseat.


Courtyard London Gatwick junior suite

The room had an oddly charming view of… I’m not exactly sure what that is?


Courtyard London Gatwick junior suite view

On the desk was a kettle along with a coffee machine.


Courtyard London Gatwick in-room kettle


Courtyard London Gatwick in-room coffee

Underneath the desk was a mini-fridge.


Courtyard London Gatwick in-room fridge

The hotel left me a welcome amenity of juice and water.


Courtyard London Gatwick welcome gift

There was even a note from my Marriott Ambassador, who I love — unfortunately his note was far too accurate in reflecting the reality of my travel. Hah!


Courtyard London Gatwick note from Ambassador

The bathroom was back near the entrance, and was pretty basic, with a sink, toilet, and shower/tub combo.


Courtyard London Gatwick bathroom


Courtyard London Gatwick shower

Toiletries were from “Nirvae Botanicals,” which I hadn’t heard of before.


Courtyard London Gatwick toiletries

Usually I try to nap in the morning after coming off a transatlantic flight, though oddly I wasn’t tired, in spite of having barely slept on the flight. So I worked for a few hours, and then went to the hotel’s gym.

The gym is on the first floor, and is open from 7AM until 10PM. I suspect the limited hours are because it’s near guest rooms, and they’re trying to limit noise. Personally I wish the gym had opened earlier, because I would have liked to work out the following morning around 5-6AM, which doesn’t seem unreasonable for an airport hotel.

Courtyard London Gatwick gym


Courtyard London Gatwick gym

After working out I worked a bit more, and then wanted to get dinner. I headed down to the hotel’s lobby bar and restaurant, which were large.


Courtyard London Gatwick lobby bar


Courtyard London Gatwick lobby bar


Courtyard London Gatwick lobby bar


Courtyard London Gatwick restaurant

I took down my laptop with me, though to my surprise the bar and restaurant were both super busy and loud (obviously the pictures above were taken earlier in the day). So I instead decided to go to my room and order room service.

The room service menu read as follows:

I have very low expectations of room service at limited service airport hotels, so I ordered the pizza. While you can go wrong with pizza, you can’t go that wrong. Okay, maybe you actually can, but I feel like it’s lower risk than many of the other options.

The pizza was delivered in a box, and was fine. It wasn’t good, but I’ve also had worse pizzas.


Courtyard London Gatwick room service

Marriott’s new elite program is impossibly complicated, and Courtyard properties are ones where Platinum members don’t receive complimentary breakfast. Rather you get points or a small food & beverage voucher, so I selected the points.

Instead the next morning I headed to the airport a bit early to have breakfast at the Priority Pass restaurant, which was good.

Courtyard Gatwick bottom line

I believe this was my first-ever Courtyard stay, and I won’t judge the rest of the brand by this, since this is an outdated airport hotel. All things considered the Courtyard met my needs for a one night stay, especially since I was looking for a Marriott stay credit.

However, in the future I think I’d stay at the Hilton again. It has a more convenient location, and on principle I’d also rather not support a Marriott brand that chooses not to offer elite members breakfast (meanwhile as an Honors Diamond member I receive lounge access/breakfast at the Hilton).

Anyone have a take on the Courtyard brand in general — do they have some decent hotels, or what’s actually supposed to make the brand unique?

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Comments
  1. Your picture of the shower, shows the standard European half glass shower door.

    The only thing this seems to guarantee is a puddle on the floor.

    Any thoughts on why this is a standard “feature” in Europe?

  2. I probably stay in a Courtyard 5-10 night a year (out of 150ish ass in bed nights), almost entirely in locations that don’t offer full service Marriott or Hyatt brands.

    They serve their purpose – clean, consistent, easy. I know what I’m getting and very few US Courtyards nowadays haven’t been renovated in the last 5 years.

    Get off a plane or train or out of a car and they’ll have one. Not my favorite because I like full service hotels but there are much worse ways to spend a night in the middle of nowhere. My dad often prefers them to full service hotels because there are less people to deal with. He can mobile key, sleep, and leave without talking to anyone.

  3. £8 for a £1.70 sandwich at Tesco is perhaps the most shocking bit of all this… or maybe second to you never having stayed at a Courtyard

  4. I’ve never stayed in a memorable Courtyard (save one in Chicago, but I lived there for a month, so that doesn’t count) and I consider that a good thing. They’re never exceptional and never horrible. They’re literally the Toyota Camry of hotel brands.

  5. Man that decor is a blast from the past. I havent stayed at an pre-renovated Courtyard in a long time. I agree with everyone else. They are fine. I usually stay at one when its my only choice. And they never disappoint, but also never wow me either. The new renovation, or new build properties are clean, modern and comfortable. The new build properties also have rather large junior “suites” that make this room above look like a jail cell. The biggest drawback, as you state, is no free breakfast. The comment above about them being the Toyota Camry of hotel brands is spot on.

  6. @Lucky – welcome any further thoughts you can share on the Priority Pass restaurant at LGW, as going to be there a couple of times in the coming months

  7. Well you got upgraded, lucky you, but it’s not going to happen for your readers – how are the regular hotel rooms at the Courtyard?

  8. “The room had an oddly charming view of… I’m not exactly sure what that is?”

    It looks like the rear of a pub to me where customers can enjoy their beer outside if the weather is fine.

  9. Next time stop at M&S in the terminal and pick up some prepared food to take to your room…and a bottle of wine.

  10. The view is of edgeworth house, which Wikipedia describes as

    “Although this four-bay timber-framed hall house lies within Gatwick Airport’s boundary, surrounded by offices and a new hotel, its interior is well preserved: old timbers and open fireplaces remain. The roof has original tiles, and the exterior is partly brick and partly tile-hung. It adjoins Wing House, and dates from either the 15th century or c. 1520.”

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listed_buildings_in_Crawley

  11. I’ve stayed in about 100 Courtyards all over North America and the one thing I can say for them is that they are the most consistent of the Marriott properties. There’s nothing special about them other than the consistency. The other nice thing about them is that they’re generally quieter than full service Marriott properties. That’s probably due to the fact that there’s never a convention of 1,000 obnoxiously drunk salespeople at a Courtyard while many full service Marriott properties seem to have those weekly or daily.

  12. Wowzer those room service prices are quite something!!!

    This hotel does a lot of cheap “park and fly” business so is busy with holiday makers starting their vacation in the bar the night before I imagine

  13. Lucky, I think you summed up Courtyards in a nutshell before the bottom line: “All things considered the Courtyard met my needs for a one night stay”.

  14. Courtyards in NA show their profitability for a reason – way too high pricing for cheap fixtures and minimal elite benefits.

    I quite enjoy a standard Hyatt Place much more.

  15. I’m at LGW a week each month for business in Crawley and recently moved from the LGW Hilton to the LGW Courtyard. While not the biggest fan of the Courtyard brand in general (there are other Marriott brands which offer better), I do prefer this Courtyard over the Hilton. The service from the staff is leaps and bounds beyond that of the LGW Hilton, the size of the Courtyard better suits my taste, and the upkeep of the property is far superior to the filth, mold, and general disrepair of the LGW Hilton. The only amenities I long for, which the Hilton offered, are the great breakfast buffet (LGW Courtyard buffet is laughable) and the Executive Lounge (when it wasn’t crowded with alcohol hoarders).

  16. In February, I was on MCT DOH LGW MLA with 12 hour overnight layover between LGW MLA, and stayed here. I am MR Platinum. Received a standard room. It was fine. The restaurant area was jammed in the evening. I attempted the walk from the LGW South, but it was foggy and raining, and the signage was horrible. I don’t like the fact that the shuttle required a fee as I had to withdraw 10 GBP from the ATM for the sole purpose of paying for the shuttle. But, if I recall correctly, the room was a bit lower priced than other LGW hotels.

  17. Courtyard Tokyo Station offers buffet breakfast ( at least for PLT, maybe other, members) , a fridge in the lobby with drinks, evening snacks in a cafe downstairs, coffee made on request . They try to offer some lounge-type benefits even in the absence of a lounge. The accommodation is very basic, though.
    I don’t understand why airport hotels are so terrible at providing explicit, clear directions on how to reach the property. Marriott has some decent airport hotels but directions to reach them are universally abysmal. As for the useless chat function: who wants to wait forever to ask for directions when the question could have been asked via email? ( no longer an option as Marriott wants us to fax rather than email)

  18. Asian Courtyards usually have breakfast, some even have lounges, and if not, many have evening happy hour food spread.

  19. I have stayed at numerous Courtyards in Canada and the USA over the years and all of them are pretty much the same, you’re not missing out on anything. About half of them that I have stayed in have the exact same room design, same carpet, wallpaper, desk, bedside table, etc. I remember I once woke up in one town, thinking I was in another town, because the room had literally the exact same design. As you mentioned the most frustrating thing about them is no free breakfast. I absolutely hate their Bistro restaurant. I had breakfast there maybe four or five times, at 3 different hotels and waited over 30 minutes for them to cook me overpriced, mediocre food that you could get at any fast food chain for half the price. Maybe the Courtyards are nicer in other continents, but after having stayed so many nights in Courtyards in North America I try my best to avoid them.

  20. What sums up this review is that fact that you prefer the Hilton Gatwick which alone looked like a throwback to the 80s in your review. Lol.

  21. Next time takes the train to Brighton – it takes 30 minutes – and get yourself some sea air and got yourself a proper meal as well. There is more to the U.K. than London.

  22. I have had four stays and 10 nights at Courtyards since March. Each Courtyard offered $10 certificates/credits for each person per room for every room I was paying for (Titanium/Platinum Lifetime). In each location, the $10 certificates/credits could be used for anything. Room service, breakfast in the Bistro, or even for items in the Marketplace. Had an extra couple of certificates on one stay and used them to buy a couple glasses of wine.

    Although the breakfast option at higher end Marriotts is nice, I am often tired of and don’t desire a big breakfast after the first couple of days. It is nice to be able to use those credits in ways outside of breakfast.

    It seems that if you are going to order rooms service, and you can use the credits as described above, you are better off with the $10 credit then the 500 or so welcome points. Especially if you are heading to the lounge for breakfast the next morning.

  23. Sorry, I can’t give you any information as I have never stayed at one because as a Marriott Platinum you don’t get free breakfast or really anything. As well they are in my view pretty limited service for their typical mid range rates.

    On another note I would love you to do a post on the worlds best hotels within walking distance of airports that you have been to.

  24. I stayed 3 Courtyard in Aisa this year. Both new hotels and the old. All terrible, especially the service. Never stay again.

  25. Hampton by Hilton is probably the best chain hotel at LGW, directly connected to North, v easy to reach South from there (probably quicker than your walk from your room in the 1980s Hilton at South!)

  26. ChrisC +1

    There’s a railway station in the terminal at Gatwick Airport. It doesn’t just offer airport shuttle trains to London – as ChrisC hinted, there are fast direct trains to a whole variety of different towns and cities.

    In the half an hour it took you to get to the Courtyard, you could have been somewhere else much more lovely.

    In most of the US, Amtrak might offer one train a day; in this part of England you will find fast trains offered 2, 3 or 4 times every hour.

    The airport station is part of the Thameslink system so, without changing trains, you can also go through London and then a long way north – to places like lovely Cambridge. That does take longer but is easily do-able in a 24 hour stopover.

    The room service prices in that hotel are an outrage. £16 for a basic Caesar salad? Even for rip-off Britain that is a ridiculous price.

  27. We need some major analysis on which credit cards to use at which vending machines with regular updates on promotions.

  28. Do this many people care about breakfast? Wow. I had no idea that was such a drawback against Courtyards.

    It’s the worst meal of the day for your body. I probably eat breakfast 15 times a year. Do you really need to start your workday with a bunch of bread carbs, runny scrambled eggs, and salt & cholesterol heavy breakfast meats?

    Even at the highest-end hotels it’s coffee and out the door unless it’s vacation. I don’t get it.

  29. I’ve stayed there. Accurate review. It is what it is. However, you should try Courtyards in Asia. They’re a different league.

    I highly recommend the Courtyards in Taipei Downtown (the other in Taipei also has a good reputation), Iloilo (if you’re passing, haha), and either of them in Hong Kong. These all have lounges and offer proper breakfast. Most of them in Asia are like a full service Marriott so even if there’s a lounge you can choose breakfast in the buffet which can be better than full service brands. You’ll also get proper suite upgrades at some of them.

    Makes a mockery of the brand as a global standard but I’m not complaining.

  30. At the end of the day, it’s a Courtyard…it isn’t uncomfortable, it isn’t the most stylish, but it gets the job done, I suppose.

    “It’s the worst meal of the day for your body.”

    It is?

  31. Courtyards get the job done. Places like St Regis and even a regular Marriott rarely exist where most business travelers go to.

    They can be very nice especially in South America. The one in Santiago Chile is nicer than the Marriott or the Sheraton.

    IME as a Marriott Platinum/Titanium whatever, I get $10 voucher for food/bev per day. Some are more strict on when they expire but otherwise they are useful.

  32. What you should have done is walked out the airport to the TRAIN station and took a south bound train stayed at a hotel in a town and ate a real meal.

  33. Tom O: I live for hotel breakfast buffets. I absolutely love them. A buffet breakfast is often the highlight of my hotel stay and I make an effort to check out the breakfast offerings before booking anywhere, so there you go, we’re all different.

  34. Some Courtyards in Asia are almost like Park Hyatts. I’m not sure how or why the owners decided to take that brand. I recently stayed at several different Asian Marriott brands in some remote locations, and the Courtyard Madurai was at the level of an Asian JW – certainly better than any US Marriott I’ve ever been. And I’m Titanium for life.

  35. I wonder if Edgeworth House is used as staff accommodation for the hotel? The covered walkway and outdoor smokers’ tables suggest so.

    A Doubletree by Hilton near me has a similar arrangement. The site was once the town’s hospital. Listing stops you bowling the building but doesn’t dictate use.

  36. While you say the room was ‘dated’, I’ll gladly take that over the prison gray with shades of battle-ship gray decor the modernized NA Courtyards are. I also don’t understand why they still refuse to do breakfast for Plats/Tits. It’s supposed to be a hotel for businessmen.

  37. food in hotel to high walk 5min to south T MaS 24hrs BLT £3 coke £1,dont get rip off in hotel

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