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Premier Inn T4 Heathrow, a bit of a guide

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Premier Inn T4 Heathrow, a bit of a guide

Postby andygolfer » Thu Feb 08, 2018 7:05 pm

This hotel opened in the summer of 2017 and is already gaining a good reputation for an overnight ‘spotting’ stay. I booked in earlier this month and thought I would share a few details about it to help future visitors. Thanks to JonF (Jon Francis) and norwichmike (mike Burdett) for their assistance with information from their own visits and for allowing me to use their photos.

The hotel address is: Sheffield Road, London Heathrow Airport, Heathrow TW6 3FH
Sheffield Rd is accessed from the T4 roundabout and is also signposted on the roundabout, here's a map to help:
Imagepremier inn T4 road map by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Firstly – how to ensure you get a room overlooking the runway….
I booked on line but before I made the booking I telephoned the hotel on their direct line 0333 234 6600 to check that they had suitable rooms available and once they confirmed I said I would call back with the reference number so they could reserve an ‘airport view’ room against my booking reference.
Then I made the booking online at the hotel website:
https://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/hotels ... LBC_HEAFOU
And then immediately called back with the reference number and they sorted it for me. Job Done!
Just to make sure, I called back about 3 days beforehand to ensure the note was on my booking and it was.

Checking in:
Check in time is from 2pm onwards.
There is parking on site and there is a discounted rate for customers of £16.50 for 24 hours – you pay this in the ground floor foyer on arrival and your car registration is logged so the ANPR camera lets you out on departure. Go to level 1 to check in at reception, there are automatic machines to do so if you are confident enough otherwise the staff do it for you. The restaurant and Costa cafe are also on this level.
I booked a meal deal which cost about £26 so I had an evening meal and buffet (stuff yourself silly) breakfast. Both were very good value although if I go again I might buy sandwiches etc in advance or even a take away snack from Costa so I don’t lose time at the window! I would have the breakfast again though as it’s a good start to the day and didn’t take too long. I was best part of an hour for the evening meal. The evening restaurant opens at 5pm and breakfast is served from 05.30 so you can be up, fed and spotting really early if you wish.

The rooms are very good, usual tea & coffee facilities but the windows are full depth of the wall so that the inner glass is flush with the wall, this is a shame as it means there was no windowcill for the old camera on the pillow trick, so a tripod is necessary if you want time exposures- as a break from tradition I had planned ahead and packed a tripod although I took a lightweight one which wasn’t 100% still for some shots so I got a few blurred ones. The hotel has free wifi or you can upgrade to a better level of performance – I stuck with the basic and ran FR24 to keep an eye on what was moving, it did seem a bit slow at times but that might be my tablet starting to get knackered so I'd say the free version was adequate.

The views are pretty good BUT nobody had mentioned the radar mast of Burj Khalifa proportions in front of the hotel, from my room (785) I could just see the 27L turn ons and then had to wait until they were almost side on ( there was all sorts of radar 'furniture' on the grass adding debris to the pics) just after they came out from behind the mast.
Here are some pics from the window:
the T4 eastern arm on the left and the edge of the radar tower on the right showing the range for straight ahead shots
Imagepremier inn T4 view from room 785 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

a night shot showing the gap between the radar tower and the edge of the window with the holding point and threshold just visible - I know I should have taken it in daylight but I forgot!
ImagePI-T4 view from room 785 4425 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

and one of the 27L threshold with the radar tower just showing:
ImagePI-T4 view of 27L threshold from room 785 4326 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

I was a bit too eager and started snapping away without reviewing my pics for a while – big mistake! They were mostly under exposed and I guess the glass has some tinting. It was late in the day so I needed quite a bit of aperture compensation but others have said that during the day they didn’t need it.

Which room?....
You need a room on the 6th or 7th floor to ensure a view and an odd numbered room between 7(or6)65 to 7(6)91. I was in room 785 and the mast was a bit of a pain. JonF had 791 which he said (and his photos confirm) had a good view but mentioned that his friend 2 doors away (probably 787 next to mine) did have problems because of the mast. If I’d been 2 or 3 rooms further along say 781 or 779 I would have got better pics of the turn ons at the runway end but not the next turn on point . norwichmike had room 673 and that does look much better although Mike did say that he had to time his shots to avoid the mast being an undesired predominant subject and I’ve also seen some from the lower number end (763 and 771) on another forum which look like they have even better visibility. I would probably ask for one of those lower numbers next time.
Here's a bing maps aerial view with some labels added by me to show what you want to see and how the mast can be in the way, it would suggest that the further east (lower numbers) you go the less the mast will be a problem:
ImagePI - T4 hotel viewing points and notes by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

Potential problems…
There seems to be a habit of parking night stoppers on the 3 stands in front of the hotel, I had a B777 and mike had both a 777 and 787 there and these can become unwanted ancillary matter in the photos if timing is not correct! I suppose it is an airport and they are parking stands so only to be expected but just be prepared for a bit of panning planning if it happens. Here's what it looks like with a 777 on one of those stands
ImageB.777 American Airlines from Premier Inn T4 Heathrow 29-01-2018 8041 by Andrew Goldsmith, on Flickr

The glass was pretty clean, it rained in the afternoon so there were one or two spots on the outer glass. First thing in the morning there was quite a bit of moisture on the outside, probably partly the resultant humidity of the previous evening or just temperature difference, it was a bit of a problem but I suppose in the summertime it won’t form as much.
I’ve mentioned the lack of windowcill so if you want any night shots pre-plan and take a tripod.

Lenses….
I take my big one (sigma 150-600) with me everywhere but unless I’s wanted landing shots on 27R (possible though) my 100 -400 would have been better. The 150mm lower end was just too large for the big types on the runway without risking accidental cropping of noses or tails and beyond any use for the taxying aircraft on the taxiway midway between me and the runway. There are 3 convenient holding points on the taxiways (see my plan) where the aircraft stop and in the right hands it should be possible for my second camera with my sigma 18-250 to get excellent shots (I should have practiced night shots beforehand, hence the ‘should have’) although there was very little light that far out from the stands. I will probably take the Canon 100-400 and Sigma 18-250 next time as on even a semi warm day the amount of heat haze coming off the vast acres of concrete between the hotel and 27R would render photos of anything on 27R all but useless.
JonF also got some nice 09R departure shots at about 130- 140mm FL of an A.380 and 747 although when I was there some of the departures were a bit high as they passed – more belly than in a Turkish dancing holiday show.
here's one of his departure pics from 791:
ImageA380 A6-EDT London Heathrow 06.07.17 by Jonathan Francis, on Flickr

and one of Mike's pics from room 673 which shows you can see quite a bit to the left without the tower interfering:
ImageF-GRXE by Mike Burdett, on Flickr

Here are some links to mine and Jon’s topics (with photos), some of Mike’s are posted as a reply in my topic and he has more on his flickr account if you link back from the topic.

My pics: viewtopic.php?f=169&t=29853

JonF’s pics: viewtopic.php?f=169&t=28534

and viewtopic.php?f=169&t=28535&p=90096#p90096

If you can add more to this topic please feel free to do so, many thanks,
and especially thanks to Jon Francis and Mike Burdett for their assistance
Andrew
Andygolfer (or at least I was once), now just plane crazy

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andygolfer
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Re: Premier Inn T4 Heathrow, a bit of a guide

Postby planesonthenet » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:02 pm

Great article. Will try next time i visit. :thumb:
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Re: Premier Inn T4 Heathrow, a bit of a guide

Postby Mike » Sat Feb 10, 2018 2:51 pm

An extremely useful report Andy, thanks for taking the time to write it. :thumb:
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Re: Premier Inn T4 Heathrow, a bit of a guide

Postby Bobbybefc » Mon Feb 12, 2018 6:09 pm

:D

Great report Andy- was looking at this prior to my two day stay at the Renaissance last year- which you have to pay top dollar for an runway view albeit an excellent runway view. Will definitely consider using the Premier Inn in the future the car park is a little bit more expensive than the Renaissance which is £15 per 24 hours but having said that it too may have gone up since my visit.

Bob :thumb:
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