(4 star hotel)
including 8 days parking
from the airport
When it comes to dinner, you won't find more choice under one Gatwick hotel roof than at the Sofitel. Try La Brasserie for breakfast or supper, The Urban Cafe; for snacks and light lunches, or the cool and classy Gatwick Oriental, at the other end of the lobby, which serves Far Eastern and Asian cuisine.
- 11am to 11.30pm
For lunch at The Urban Cafe, theres a good variety of fare from which to choose large house sandwiches, pasta, thin crust cherry tomato and fresh mozzarella pizza, or for a larger appetite, an excellent braised beefsteak bourguignon.
In the evening, there's a special dinner menu for Holiday Extras customers - and it offers plenty of choice. Starters included garlic bread with mozzarella cheese, and Cordoba olive and pepper cocktail with rustic bread, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Main dishes included Spanish-style chicken casserole, stone-baked pizza margherita, pasta carbonara and fried fresh whiting fillet in honey panko crumbs with fries and homemade tartare sauce. Desserts included crème brulee, fresh fruit salad and pot au chocolat.
Soup of the day was a deliciously nutty, almost toffee-flavoured celeriac broth when we were there, and we can vouch for the beef pattie Aberdeen Angus burgers on soft white bread, plus an ample amount of fries and salad. Generous portions were the order of the day - it was filling food fit for an upcoming journey or exhausted homecoming.
Wine, of course, can help soothe a weary traveller, or smooth out any qualms about the upcoming journey. Theres an interesting list here, including some unusual choices, such as a white and a red from Sir Cliff Richards vineyards - you're welcome to ask the waiter for a taste. We drank a glass of very quaffable Merlot from Western Cape, South Africa.
- Noon to 2.30pm Monday to Saturday
- 6pm to 11pm Monday to Saturday
The Gatwick Oriental is a veritable geography lesson in culinary form, amid elegant chrome, marble and pan-Asian objets d'art. There are starters, soups and mains from all over the Orient, including dishes from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia and Laos. Add a wine list running to sixty bottles (plus eleven wines by the glass) and two set menus and you've got the recipe for an exotic, satisfying dining experience.
If you're fond of spring rolls, crispy aromatic duck, fresh crabs or sweet and sour, the Oriental has it all. We tried the soup and one of the many varieties of stir-fry with ginger, with a bottle of perfectly-chilled Chardonnay. Treat yourself and give it a try too!
Expect to pay £30-£35 per head for two courses with wine.
- Continental: 5am to 6.30am daily
- English: 6.30am to 10.30am weekdays; 6.30am to 11am at weekends
- Dinner: 6.30pm to 10.30pm
The Brasserie serves both English and Continental breakfast: there's everything from poached eggs and French toast to waffles, fruit and yogurt. Attentive staff dont let your coffee cup stay empty for long and newspapers are on hand so you can catch up with the latest. Its all very ordered and efficient a calm and pleasant start to what might otherwise be a hectic day of travelling.
All three restaurants are on the ground floor.
Should you be in the mood to try the 24-hour room service, you wont be the only guest who worries that its going to take far too long to arrive. But fear not on that score: a welcome little note on the menu states that should you have to wait more than 30 minutes for your breakfast, you won't have to pay for it. Fair enough. Needless to say, the hotel rarely has to pay up on the promise.