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Published on Sunday, February 16, 2020

Getting to know Leonardo

Bev Fearis's early morning flight from London Heathrow was much more bearable after a night with Leonardo, although sadly we don't mean di Caprio...

Location: The Leonardo Hotel London Heathrow Airport is on the Bath Road, the airport's main hotel strip, so it's one of the closest to terminals 2 and 3 and the bus station. Take the free red bus (which will get you very close), the Hoppa Bus (£5.50 each way), or if you're in a hurry (and on expenses) it's a five-minute taxi ride (£10 each way) or around £20 from terminals 4 and 5.

First impressions: We arrived by car from the M25 on a busy Friday afternoon. From the other side of the dual carriage way, the Leonardo looked very much like all the other hotels that surround the airport (nothing to get excited about) but once I got close to the entrance I saw a glimpse of style and the distinctive Leonardo branding. The Leonardo brand is relatively new in the UK but is fast expanding. Owned by Israeli Fattal Hotels Group, there are now 12 Leonardo hotels in the UK (a 13th is due to open in Bristol later this year). This Heathrow property, previously a Holiday Inn, was its first foray into the UK. Leonardo took over the property in 2015 and gave it a big make-over, and it still looks spanking new. Behind a long, pink neon lit reception desk is a picture of the Mona Lisa and other artwork by Leonardo da Vinci. The spacious open-plan lobby opens out to the bar and the restaurant/breakfast room all separated by carefully positioned furniture, leather arm chairs and white pillars. Spot lighting and pendant lights add to the fresh, contemporary feel.

The rooms: Triple glazing in all 230 bedrooms ensures a quiet night, which is essential when you're this close to the airport - and to the M4 and M25 motorways. The decor is sleek and business like with supersized, super comfy beds, a desk you can actually work on and a comfortable desk chair. The standard rooms are a good size but the executive rooms - in a separate wing - are even bigger and come with extras such as a complimentary drinks voucher, a mini-fridge, fresh fruit, biscuits, posher toiletries, bathrobe and slippers. The Wi-Fi was sufficiently speedy.

Meetings: Rather than being clustered together in one part of the hotel, unusually the 15 meeting rooms are spread across the property, some of them tucked away among the corridors of bedrooms. The official line is that this is to give delegates their own exclusive space and to avoid them crossing over into other groups during coffee breaks. We had a peak at a few and they still had that new carpet smell.

Wining and dining: The hotel's restaurant serves modern British dishes. There's a huge menu, covering all bases, including six different burgers (around £16). You can pay £2 to double or even triple up your burger but one was enough for me. There are also healthy options like a sweet chilli stir fry and salads, then pizzas, a chicken curry, sirloin steak (£26), fish and chips, and a good choice of veggie and vegan dishes. puddings for £7. I reckon you could stay for a month and still not have to double up on your menu choice. Breakfast covered all bases too, although with a 6.30am start I couldn't stomach the hot food and stuck to muesli.

The highs: A relatively new brand in the UK, Leonardo wants to make a big impression with this flagship airport hotel and this comes through strongly in the enthusiasm and eagerness of the young staff.

The lows: The air conditioning in the lobby bar and restaurant was a bit fierce (I had to go back to my room to get a jumper for dinner).

Verdict: If you're not yet familiar with the Leonardo brand, give it a go. It's already got a strong following in Israel and in other European countries and is pulling out all the stops with its UK properties, particularly this one, its UK debut. 

Price: Double rooms start from £60.

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