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Airport hotels go glam: Radisson Blu Stansted gets multi million pound makeover

Words by Sally Meeson

When you think of an airport hotel you picture basic facilities and practical necessities to take the pain out of a early flight. You don’t imagine fine dining, relaxing spas… and even wine delivered by aerial acrobats! But the recently refurbished Radisson Blu London Stansted has all of the above and provides a stylish start to a holiday.

As Stansted plans to increase the number of passengers it can handle per year by 8 million, more of us can expect to be flying from the Essex airport. Jump off the Stansted Express and you’ll find the Radisson Blu a few minutes walk from the train platform. My immediate thought on arrival was: “This is so easy – why don’t I stay overnight before flights more often!?”

Entering the large glass atrium of the hotel’s lobby I was struck by the building’s clean lines and sophisticated design. Modern art sculptures stood behind hotel reception staff who were friendly and polite and checked me into my room quickly and efficiently. And on walking to the lifts to find my room I couldn’t help but notice the hotel’s striking centrepiece….a 14 metre high glass tower filled with thousands of bottles of wine… but more on that later!

The new reception area has a modern and sophisticated feel

I chose a Business Suite for my stay , one of 500 bedrooms and suites covering 4 floors with facilities including 24 hour room service, in room coffee and tea provisions and free high speed wireless internet access.

Having heard rumours that the hotel’s best rooms actually have runway views the first thing I did was head for my window – and I wasn’t disappointed.

As someone who travels a lot but still finds the whole concept of aviation fascinating, I happily watched planes taking off from the comfort of my King sized bed before heading out for my evening meal.

Business Suite at Radisson Blu London Stansted

The hotel offers a choice of restaurants, but I opted for fine dining at its fabulous Station 169 which has a cool, vintage US feel. It takes its name from Stansted Airport’s history as the site of the United States’ Army Air Force Base during World War War II.

And in keeping with its past the restaurant offers an eclectic mix of American and British dishes in a laid back environment complete with soothing jazz tracks in the background.

I enjoyed a delicious pan roasted cod loin on buttered spinach with curried mussel vegetable broth, washed down with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc – with a label fittingly sporting a retro US Air Force pin up girl.

The hotel offers several dining options including Station 169

And the options on the dessert menu all looked so inviting I actually wanted to try everything, but eventually settled on a zesty lemon mousse with Italian meringue and Mojito ice cream.

There are two other dining options at the hotel. Collage restaurant is a British brasserie offering classics such as steaks and burgers through to pasta, cheese boards and beer battered fish and chips. While for those who would prefer to grab a quick snack and a drink the infamous Wine Tower Bar is the place to go.

Located in the heart of the hotel this 14 metre high wine rack, enclosed in a pointed glass tower, holds more than 4,000 bottles of wine. And as if that weren’t spectacle enough, aerial acrobats known as “Wine Angels” come in on special occasions to soar up the tower and collect bottles for astonished guests on the ground!

The Wine Tower with acrobats is certainly a talking piece!

With the hotel still undergoing parts of its 6 million pound refurbishment, the wine tower is expected to become even more impressive later this year.

If you’d prefer to give the booze a miss and wake up feeling extra fresh for your flight, the hotel also has its own state of the art health club called Pace.

Its fully equipped gym has weights along with resistance and cardiovascular machines and classes including spinning, yoga and aqua aerobics are available too.

There’s also a 10 metre heated swimming pool, sauna and steam room available to complete your relaxation before you hit the sack with a long day ahead of you.

The fully equipped gym at Pace health club

Not only will your stay at Radisson Blu London Stansted mean you can set your alarm precious hours later, the rooms’ wonderfully comfortable beds and blackout curtains mean proper sleep – rather than that fractious, pre-flight slumber we’ve all come to dread.

Plus the icing on the cake is that once you wake in the morning you can be at the airport check in in less than 5 minutes! Good food, stylish rooms AND extra sleep?. That’s definitely my idea of pre-holiday luxury!

Fact box:

Radisson Blu Hotel London Stansted Airport offers standard rooms from £119 on a B&B basis

Address: London Stansted Airport, Waltham Close, Stansted, CM24 1PP

Phone:  01279 661012