Sleeping in Airports

Sleeping in London Heathrow Airport

sleeping in london heathrow airport

If you’re dealing with a long layover or an early morning flight departure at London Heathrow Airport, you might be wondering if it is possible to sleep in the airport. Our guide to sleeping in London Heathrow Airport provides essential information for seasoned airport sleepers and newbies to help travellers arrive prepared for the experience.

We keep this guide up-to-date with the help of airport sleepers who have generously shared their experiences and airport reviews. If you have any tips or photos to contribute, please take a moment to write a review. Your feedback will help us stay informed about the latest advice for future sleepy travellers.

Sleeping in London Heathrow Airport

The London Heathrow Airport is open 24 hours a day, but the protocol may vary depending on your arrival time at night and your specific terminal. For instance, in Terminal 3, airport security staff will relocate all overnight sleepers to one designated area until around 4:00 AM. If you end up at a terminal you are not departing from, check the inter-terminal bus departure start times to get to the right terminal in time for check-in.

Locations & Seating

London Heathrow Airport bus station connector
Central Bus station (Photo courtesy of a Guest Reviewer / 02Dec2017)

In general, there’s a good amount of seating available, though the quality and locations vary in each of the four terminals. Expect to find metal chairs with armrests and various benches with and without armrests or padding. If you’re arriving to spend the night, you may have to stay in the landside, public zones until Security checkpoints open in the early morning. A recent review mentioned that only overnight stays are permitted on the airside in Terminal 3. Travellers prepared to sleep on the floor, perhaps with a blanket, sleep mat, or even sleeping bag, can find dimmer corners and don’t seem to get any flack from airport staff.

Here are good sleep spots that travellers have reported:

  • Terminal 2, a relatively secluded quiet zone can be found when walking to gates B31-B49 from A gates. Do not get on the escalator and take the lift down, or you might miss it.
  • Terminal 3, above Departures and near the Pret a Manger, are some padded, armrest-free benches and plenty of power outlets.
  • Landside in Terminal 4, you may be able to hang out in the 24-hour cafe for a long time if you buy something.
  • Terminal 5, the floor above Departures has some armrest-free benches near the G area.
  • Landside, the Central bus station connected to Terminals 1, 2 and 3 and the train by the underground tunnel connector.

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Rest Zones

London Heathrow Airport offers designated rest zones equipped with lounge chairs perfect for tired travellers needing to relax. These rest zones are located throughout the terminals. Rest zones in Terminal 5 and Terminal 3 (Gates 24-25) also have couches, snack machines, and more.

Hotel

heathrow airport hotelsIf you’re craving the privacy and comfort of a hotel room, you’ve got some options in the airport’s public areas. The Aerotel in Terminal 3 offers rooms in 6, 9 and 12-hour blocks.   If you are in transit, you must pass through immigration to access. No transit hotels are in the airside zone, but a few airside lounges have nap rooms; see the lounge section below. A Sofitel is connected to Terminal 5 via a covered walkway, offering free shuttle service and day rooms. A Hilton is directly connected to Terminal 4, while a Premier Inn is within walking distance. See the hotel section in our Airport Guide for locations, or visit Tripadvisor to find hotel deals at Heathrow Airport.

Lounges

heathrow airport loungesIf you are looking for a private place to nap for a few hours between flights, you can choose from several airport lounges. In addition to offering a comfortable place to hang out, several lounges offer nap rooms, including a few locales of the Plaza Premium Lounge, the Club Aspire Lounge and the No. 1 Heathrow Lounge, both in Terminal 3. Rooms can be booked at the lounge door or sometimes pre-booked online. For details and locations on lounges, check out our London Heathrow Airport Guide.

Airport Conditions

If you plan to spend the night at the airport, here are a few things to keep in mind:

London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 Quiet Area
(Photo courtesy of mytie5 / 21Mar2016)
  • Temperature – At the time of this update, we have not received reports from travellers about terminal temperature. Still, expect the terminal to cool down at night as the air conditioning continues to run and fewer people are inside. Arrive prepared with a blanket or even a sleeping bag. A hoodie provides extra warmth if the terminal gets even colder.   
  • Lighting – Expect the lights to stay on and brightly lit all night, especially if you’re staying in a designated overnight sleeping zone. Come prepared with eyeshades or something else to cover your eyes, such as a shirt or towel.
  • Noise – This is a busy airport, so anticipate some noise no matter the hour. Daytime sleepers can expect to hear frequent announcements, TVs and music playing. Much of the flight traffic calms at night, and little to no announcements play, making it quieter. Still, depending on your location, you may hear nearby travellers chatting and occasional cleaning crews. Luckily, it’s nothing that earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones can’t solve!

Food & Drink

When you get the midnight munchies or give up trying to sleep and need a coffee to stay awake, 24-hour food concessions are available. Check out these vendors: Costa Coffee in Terminals 2 and 5 and Caffe Nero in Terminal 4. All vendors are located in the landside, public zones.

Showers

Freshen up (and loosen those stiff muscles) with a shower before your flight. Shower facilities are located inside several pay-to-use lounges, including:

  • Terminal 2: two Plaza Premium Lounges and the United Club
  • Terminal 3: Club Aspire, the No. 1 Heathrow Lounge, Plaza Premium Arrivals Lounge and the Regus Express Lounge
  • Terminal 4: two Plaza Premium Lounges, the SkyTeam Lounge and The House Lounge
  • Terminal 5: The Aspire Lounge & Spa in T5.

See our London Heathrow Airport Guide for locations and details.

Security & Safety

Airport staff and security are generally tolerant of travellers sleeping in the airport, as long as you follow any protocol they may have.

Travellers seem to feel relatively safe here, particularly overnight. Security guards seem pretty visible, often checking travellers’ IDs and tickets if they stay on the landside for an early-morning flight. They may wake you up to check your proof of travel, but most travellers appreciate this, as it keeps non-travellers out of the terminals.

Sleeping in any airport can include a certain level of risk, especially when travelling alone. It’s important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety and the security of your valuables. Here are a few tips:

  • Safety First. It’s a good idea to know where the security office is located and look for video cameras where you plan to sleep. You can also ask the security personnel for advice on the safest places to spend the night.
  • Don’t Seclude Yourself. If you’re travelling alone, we recommend you stay near other travellers or close to security. This will help you feel more secure and deter potential thieves.
  • Hide Your Valuables. It’s also important to hide your valuables. Don’t leave them out in plain view, as this could make you a target for theft. Additionally, if you are a deep sleeper, you may want to padlock your bag to something or sleep with your bag up against a wall to make it harder for someone to access zippers and pockets. We have received reports of sleepers who woke up without their phones and laptop bags. The travellers were left with just their headphones and laptop bag strap.
  • Stay Alert. It’s best to stay alert and awake if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages to help you stay awake, and remember that you can always catch up on sleep during your flight. These simple precautions can help you enjoy a safe night at the airport.

Pro-tip: If you sleep in the public zone, don’t be surprised if you receive an early morning wake-up call. Security is known to make the rounds, waking people up as travellers arrive for morning flights.

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