London's Holiday Inn Gatwick is not your usual scary-at-nighttime airport hotel. The locals know this and use it as their hub for trips worldwide whether they're traveling moms heading out alone or going off on a family vacation.
Genuinely family friendly, well located and elegant without being stuffy, the Holiday Inn Gatwick is a find. We could not have found a better ending to our three-week European family vacation. Our inter-connected rooms each had plenty of space to move around, pillow selection (a huge hit with the kids) and best of all, kids under 14 ate free. The eating free part usually makes me suspicious but their kids' menu included a generous dinner selection and even veggies. With the dollar doubling as a peso in London, and our 12-year-old eating like a college football player, we were grateful for the savings and the tasty food.
The breakfast buffet included American and British selections. The kids and I tried kippers (thumbs down) and porridge (thumbs up) and gawked at blood sausage. We settled on fresh omelets and pancakes. All free for the kids.
I had learned through hours of calling London hotels that a family of five or more was required to use two rooms; rollaways were not allowed. So when I say that Holiday Inn Gatwick is family friendly, I mean it. They offered us a rollaway bed and even had single rooms that could sleep five, with plans to renovate other rooms to sleep up to seven.
Within walking distance, there is a 14th century pub, a large grocery/Target type store, and transportation to everything. The kids stayed put, having seen and traveled enough after a very full family vacation but I ventured out to the grocery. I poked around the store, bought a few things for the flight the next day, and enjoyed the walk back. The kids ran around the lawn outside, played PlayStation in the room and watched a movie. If they had wanted a swim, that was available at the hotel next door for $10 per person.
It may have been the three days of eye-rolling, exasperated service in Rome, but the staff at Holiday Inn Gatwick seemed incredibly kind, friendly to the kids and eager to please. Combine that with comfy rooms, a fresh fruit basket, bottled water and a TV, and we had a happy ending to our family vacation.
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