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"In my mind, going on holiday should be fun from…"
In my mind, going on holiday should be fun from the moment you sling your cases in the back of the car and double lock your front door. Unfortunately, nobody has told the flight schedulers - as for the past six years the start of our holiday has meant getting to Gatwick for 4am. Being forced to get up at some ungodly time of the night and then drive around the M25, while wiping sleep from your eyes, is bad enough. Factor in the two hours or so you then spend queuing to get through check-in and security, and it's no wonder that by the time the steward starts the safety demonstration my husband and I are no longer speaking. (I'm too busy; fantasizing about tying my life jacket's straps in a double bow - tightly - around his neck.)
So this year, for the sake of family unity, we decided to do things differently. Determined to start our holiday the minute we got into the car, we booked into Sofitel, Gatwick for the night before our flight. Talk about a contrast - we were so relaxed we drove straight past the Gatwick turn-off...; and actually laughed about it.
When we did finally get to Gatwick we whacked our car straight into Sofitel's car park (they do a rate that includes a week's car parking), trundled our bags into reception, checked in, left the suitcases with the concierge, dumped our coats in our (rather swanky) family suite, went back down to the lobby, retrieved our suitcases and trundled them through Sofitel's walkway straight into Gatwick North's terminal. Quite a few airlines now provide "night before"; check-ins for early flights, and within twenty minutes of getting out of the car we were in Thomson's "early check-in queue";, which consisted of one other family. (Bizarrely, they were going to Periyali, Zakynthos, based on our Mumsnet recommendations!) Five minutes later we'd got our boarding passes, ditched our suitcases and were back in the hotel, having a celebratory cocktail in Sofitel's Kua bar. Now that's the way to do it. (If you do have an early flight and are planning to stay the night at Gatwick do check to see if your airline provides a "night before"; check-in. If they do, use it!)
Sofitel Gatwick's billed as a four-star luxury hotel...; and for an airport hotel it's blooming marvellous. It's very swish - think massive atrium, glass lifts, clean lines etc etc - and the staff couldn't be friendlier. We had, what by any standards, was a good meal (sea bass and a superb steak) in the brasserie (there's also a Ken Hom oriental restaurant and a cafRead moreLess
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