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On Monday, we received news that a number of Heathrow hotels will soon be offering room rates that include a Covid test. The Sofitel Heathrow Terminal 5 is the first hotel to offer this option and its ‘Test & Rest’ package is now available so, as it may not be entirely obvious how to book this rate, here’s a quick guide.
If you’re making a booking via the ALL app there’s no risk of confusion – the option to book a room rate that includes a Covid test appears alongside all the other rates once you’ve selected the room type that you’d like to book.
On the Accor/Sofitel desktop site it’s not quite so clear, so here’s what you need to do:
Head to the Sofitel’s home page and enter the dates of your stay and the number of people that will be staying in the room.
Select the room you’d like to book:
At this point a new page opens and, if you’re not looking carefully, it can appear as if the option to book a room with a Covid test isn’t available…
…but that’s only because what you’re currently looking at are the “standard” rates that the hotel offers. It’s easy to miss the fact that there’s an option to view the hotel’s “packages”.
When you click on “packages” (shown by the arrow in the image below), the ‘Test & Rest’ option will appear if the hotel is offering it on your chosen date(s).
At the time of writing, the Sofitel London Heathrow T5 is offering its Test and Rest rate from 6 November onwards.
The rate you’ll be offered will vary depending on the number of people you originally said would be checking in. The image above shows the Test & Rest rate for a single guest and this increases by £60 if you add a second guest to the room.
Interestingly, once you proceed to the next stage of the booking process (the stage where the property offers you the chance to add a few extras to your booking), there’s an option to add more Covid tests.
These tests cost £79 each (more than the cost of adding a second person to the booking) and the fact that this option is available would seem to suggest that a guest at the Sofitel can book Covid tests for people who aren’t staying at the hotel.
If this is the case (and I can’t think of a reason this would be offered as an option if it wasn’t) this could be useful for people traveling as a small group – only one person would need to book a room at the Sofitel, but the rest of the group could be tested for £79 each while making the most of a cheaper hotel rate elsewhere. This is the cheapest rate (by far) that I have seen for a private Covid test in the UK.
Note: The maximum number of additional Covid tests you appear to be able to book is 5.
The last thing to note is that the information that’s currently being provided by the Sofitel indicates that a guest’s swab sample has to be submitted to reception “by 8pm” if the results of the Covid test are to be ready the following day.
What isn’t mentioned anywhere (that I can see) on the website, is the time the following day that guests can expect to get the results of their tests (this will be important information for people with morning departures the next day). A Sofitel Heathrow T5 employee has told me that it will take up to 14 hours for guests to receive their results (via email and the dedicated app that guests will need to download) so that would indicate that all results would be available, at the latest, by 10am on the day following a test.
The same employee also told me that anyone wanting to get the result of their test sooner can choose to visit the hotel early on the day of check-in and submit their sample for testing considerably before the 8pm cut-off time. What the hotel employee wasn’t able to tell me was how many times per day the samples they collect are sent to the testing site so, to be on the safe side, until we have more information it’s best to assume that results will not be available before 10am on the day following a test.
The Sofitel London Heathrow T5 is now offering room rates that include a Covid test for all occupants of the room. As things stand, these rates are available from 6 November 2020 and they’re very simple to book. However, if you’re booking via the hotel’s desktop site it can be easy to overlook the section of the page where the Test & rest rate is offered so hopefully, the basic walkthrough that I’ve set out above will be of help.