Some may think I’m soft for doing this but each to their own I guess. I love the film Pretty Woman, always have. Now clearly I’m not as rich as Richard Gere’s character but I do like to treat Mrs PG from time to time. Especially on her birthday. It should probably be said that Mrs PG hates surprises so I was compelled to tell her where we were going a few days before but the end result was the same.
Leeds Bradford Airport once again has a British Airways service to London Heathrow so I thought I’d take advantage and fly Mrs PG for a few days away (Are you getting the theme yet?). We booked via the British Airways Holiday site. It’s cheaper overall to book via them rather than flight and hotel separately. I picked the Great Western Hotel at Paddington Station. It’s basically part of the Hilton Hotel. This was mainly because the Heathrow Express terminates at Paddington (Easy drop off of suitcase) and it has easy access to the rest of London by tube.
So we pitched up at Leeds Bradford on quite a nice, mild November morning. Check in for BA is really easy and the queue was small. Now I’m not sure if it’s still on offer but at the time, BA passengers got free fast track through security. This was a great touch as nobody unless they are some form of masochist enjoys airport security! Also as I’d left my tinned peaches at home, there was no chance of me failing the slosh test! (Don’t ask!)
Following a fleeting glance in World Duty Free we moved on to the Yorkshire Premier Lounge. Now I really like it in here (especially without the kids). It’s an oasis of calm in what can be a very busy terminal. Some may say that £20 per person is a little steep but it’s cheaper than some airports and the offering is great. Let’s be honest, a couple of drinks and a snack in the restaurant wouldn’t be far of that price either.
Boarding with BA is so easy! Once your boarding card is checked it’s straight down an air bridge into the aircraft. Compared to boarding with Ryanair or Jet2 it just flows. There’s no barging around or any of that nonsense, it’s just, well, easy really.
Theres not really much I can say about the flight other than the crew we lovely, the bacon butty and coffee were nice and hot and the flight only lasted 40 mins. However, when we arrived on stand we found out that we had been put on one that wasn’t designed for the Heathrow shuttle. This meant a ridiculous 30 minute wait for a bus to drive us the best part of 200 yards!
Baggage collected, it was off to the Heathrow Express. The best advice I can give here is book in advance. It’s not the cheapest journey you’ll make and it’s £35 return each at full price. We took advantage of an offer of two return tickets for £50. Still not cheap but every little helps! (Keep an eye out though because recently there was an offer with Leeds Bradford Airport where the Heathrow Express was free when you travelled with British Airways).
Now Mrs PG and I love to walk but we made the decision to get two tourist Oyster cards. These cap the fares you pay on the London Underground to £9.10 a day no matter how much you use them. (If your fare is less than that then you just pay the lower amount.
Check in at the hotel was easy enough and up to the room. Now BEWARE here. The promotional material will have you believe that the rooms are like the images here. You don’t!
What we got was a lovely room with the same furniture as the pictures but in a normally sized hotel room. It’s a minor gripe but a gripe non the less as when I asked the staff on reception, I was greeted with the response “Well don’t believe everything you see on the Internet”!
Breakfast was good, if not a little busy and the rest of the hotel was nice but the best bit by far was that the GWR Tower rooms get access to what I would describe as basically a form of premier lounge. You can get breakfast, drinks and snacks in the day and complementary drinks at night! (Mrs PG and I took advantage here!). The room is beautiful too.
We did all the touristy things such as Westminster, Buckingham Palace, etc but what Mrs PG didn’t know was that I’d booked to take her to The Shard! We went to the bar called Gong. Now, it’s free to get in here but you need to book but there is a minimum spend of £30 per person. Each drink is around the £10 mark but you do get 2 hours up there. It’s also only marginally more expensive than the viewing gallery but you do get lovely drinks and snacks which you don’t get in the gallery.
Our return to Heathrow was equally easy thanks to staying at Paddington. 20 minutes later we were stood in check in in Terminal 5 (what a place!) Unfortunately we were early for check in so we sat down near the First Class check in desks. Wowzer I’ve never seen so much Louis Vuitton although not one celebrity in sight!
All credit here to Heathrow security as it was so so easy! The staff were polite and told us what was happening (I had too many charging cables). Not one grunt or huff to be heard.
Our flight boarded nice and early with us being parked right next to the threshold or runway 09R so we were airborne within 10 minutes! That’s awesome for Heathrow.
A swift G and T on the flight and we were in final approach to Leeds. As I’ve come to expect of LBA, our bags were on the belt within 20 minutes of landing. 10 minutes later we were in the car and off on our way home.
Overall it wasn’t the cheapest of trips. Flights, hotel, transport, food and drink cost me the best part of £1100 for 3 days but do you know what, Mrs PG is worth every penny.