No Sleeping Pods in Stansted Airport – Use These

If you’re curious about the sleep conditions at London Stansted(STN) Airport, especially given its restrictive policies on overnight stays, and wondering if STN has embraced sleeping pods, this guide is tailored for you.

We’ve compiled this Stansted Airport Sleep Guide to provide comprehensive details that will help you make an informed decision on where to rest. This guide covers various in-terminal spots and alternative options, considering the absence of sleep pods. Whether you’re a first-time traveler or a seasoned flyer, you’ll find our recommendations valuable.

Can you sleep at Stansted Airport Overnight?

Yes, you can sleep in Stansted Airport. The airport is open 24 hours, but access to certain areas is limited at night. Security opens around 2:00 AM to 3:00 AM for passengers with hand luggage, while check-in desks for those with checked bags typically open around 4:00 AM to 5:00 AM, depending on the airline and flight schedule. Services are also limited during the night, so it’s a good idea to check specific flight details and airport policies in advance.

Unfortunately, there are no Sleeping Pods at Stansted Airport:

Unfortunately, Stansted Airport has not installed sleep pods. Despite the £600 million Stansted Transformation Project which saw the Airport increase its seating capacity by 40%, it didn’t include sleep pods which are designed to offer weary travelers a comfortable and private place to rest during long layovers or delays. I did not find any information on plans for sleep pod operators such as Yotel which has a presence in Heathrow and Gatwick to expand to Stansted. Read about Heathrow’s Sleep Pods here and Gatwick’s Sleep Pods here.

In addition, the Airport’s expansion Master Plan which began in 2015 mentions no details on plans to include innovative sleep technologies such as capsule pods or cabins that make efficient use of space while offering weary travelers a restful place to recharge.

It’s worth noting, however, that travelers can still find quiet and comfortable seating areas in the departure lounge to take naps or get some work done before their flights. The addition of charging points also allows travelers to stay connected while resting at these seating areas.

Read about other Airports in Europe with Sleep Pods such as Vienna, Frankfurt, Bergamo, Istanbul, Helsinki, Schiphol, and Milano Malpensa. Several other UK Airports lack sleep pods including Luton, Manchester and Belfast Airports among others.

Related:

You Can Still Sleep at Stansted Airport though:

Despite lacking innovative compact sleep pod facilities, you can still find in-airport sleeping spots. A few years ago, STN made headlines for limiting overnight stay with strict unfriendly policies but a review in 2024 indicates that you can sleep at the airport’s terminal areas.

Below are details of the sleep conditions at Stansted Airport and how they’ve evolved significantly between 2018-2019 and 2022-2024.

2018-2019:

  • Strict policies limited access to airside areas and prohibited sleeping bags and floor sleeping.
  • Extensive construction works under the Transformation Program, funded by 600 million GBP, disrupted sleeping arrangements.

2022-2024:

  • Early 2022: Travelers faced challenges such as limited seating, cold temperatures, and strict no-sleeping rules. Many ended up sleeping on floors or using chairs as makeshift beds.
  • By 2023: Conditions improved with new seating areas, though overcrowding around early morning flights persisted. Reviews indicated a more positive sleeping experience overall, reflecting upgrades from renovation efforts.

Despite improvements, sleeping at Stansted often requires adapting to suboptimal conditions due to structural limitations and policy enforcement.

You’ll have to rely on a small waiting area for overnight sleep:

There is a small waiting hall for overnight passengers near the check-in area, restricted to a small section with about 30 seats after 11 PM. Most facilities and gates shut down, leading many passengers to sleep on the floor due to insufficient seating.

The area is enclosed by fences until about 2:00 AM, and security processes start around 3:00 AM. This makes the small hall cramped and uncomfortable for overnight stays, with sparse amenities and frequent overcrowding.

Where to Sleep at Stansted Airport:

Here are some specific locations within Stansted Airport where travelers managed to catch some sleep, despite the generally challenging conditions:

Main Terminals, Gates 90-93:

This area is mentioned specifically as a place where some passengers found it relatively quiet and less crowded. The benches in this area were noted to be without armrests, allowing for somewhat more comfortable lying down.

Costa Coffee(Both Airside and Landside)

Several travelers found the Costa Coffee area to offer slightly more comfortable seating. While not ideal for lying down, the couches and chairs provided a better alternative to the cold floor. This location was also noted for its accessibility to power outlets and food, though it can be busy during daytime hours.

Note that the Costa Coffee shop in the Airside is closed from 12 am to 3 am but the landside is open 24 hours.

International Arrivals Lounge:

This area was described as quieter and less crowded, especially late at night or very early in the morning. Some found floor space here to lay down, albeit on a hard surface.

This space used to be more comfortable before renovations, but it still remains a place where some manage to rest, especially if seats without armrests are available.

Bus Waiting Lounge (Coach Lounge):

Located at the bus level, this spot was highlighted by a few as a better alternative, possibly because it’s away from the main terminal activities. The benches here are basic but offer a place to sit or lie down if not too crowded.

Burger King Chairs in Arrivals:

Many travelers gather chairs from the Burger King in the arrivals area to create makeshift beds. This area becomes packed around 10-11 PM, so arriving early to secure chairs is advisable.

Landside Near Security:

Known for its availability during the night when airside is closed, this area offers floor space and a few hard benches. It’s not the most comfortable, but it’s usable for those needing to stay overnight.

Near Heating Vents:

Some resourceful travelers found warmth and a bit of comfort by sleeping near heating vents. While not an official sleeping area, these spots provided some respite from the often-cold conditions of the airport.

Emergency Exit Between Shops:

Some passengers lay out sleeping bags in this area, which can accommodate about ten people. It’s a more secluded spot, offering a quieter environment for those who find it.

Floor Near Check-in:

During restricted hours (11 PM to 2 AM), this area has limited seating, forcing many to sleep on the floor. Bringing a blanket for insulation from the cold floor is recommended.

Arrival Area Benches:

Some found the benches in the arrival area slightly more conducive to sleep, especially those without armrests. This area tended to be less noisy and crowded compared to departure zones.

Secluded Corners and Quiet Nooks:

A few travelers reported finding isolated corners or nooks within the terminal that offered a quieter environment for sleeping. These areas were not specifically named but were described as being away from the main thoroughfares.

These locations, while not perfect, were sometimes seen as the lesser of many evils for travelers needing to rest at Stansted Airport. The general advice from seasoned airport sleepers included using eye masks and earplugs, arriving early to claim a spot, and dressing warmly to cope with the often chilly temperatures.

What fliers think about STN Airport Sleep – Reviews Summary:

Pros:

Despite the challenges associated with sleeping and comfort, travelers have mentioned a few aspects of Stansted Airport that they appreciate:

  1. Efficient Check-in and Security Procedures: Some passengers have noted that the check-in and security processes can be quite efficient, particularly during less busy times. This streamlined experience is valued, especially by those catching early flights or in transit.
  2. Shopping and Dining Options: Stansted Airport offers a variety of shops and restaurants that cater to different tastes and needs. Travelers appreciate the availability of both high-street brands and duty-free shopping, as well as food options ranging from quick snacks to more substantial meals. Costa Coffee (located in the Landside, Arrivals area) and Pret-a-Manger coffee shop (situated Airside) are recognized for their 24-hour food service options.
  3. Cleanliness: Several reviews highlight the cleanliness of the airport, particularly in public areas like restrooms and dining areas, which are maintained well despite the high traffic.
  4. Transport Links: Stansted is well-connected by public transport, with direct trains, buses, and coaches to London and other major cities. The convenience of the Stansted Express train service, which offers a quick and direct route to central London, is frequently mentioned.
  5. Good Signage and Navigation: The airport is generally considered to be well-signed, with clear directions to gates, amenities, and transport links. This ease of navigation is particularly valued by travelers who are new to the airport.
  6. WiFi Access: Free WiFi, though limited in time(only 4 hours), is available throughout the airport. Many passengers appreciate being able to connect to the internet to check emails, browse, or inform relatives of their travel status. To connect, you just use “’_FreeWifi” network and can opt to pay £1 for 10 times faster speed.

These positive aspects contribute to the overall functionality and user-friendliness of Stansted Airport, making it a preferred choice for many travelers, especially those flying with budget airlines to destinations across Europe.

Cons:

Travelers have reported several issues with Stansted Airport, highlighting aspects that contribute to a less favorable experience:

  1. Cold and Uncomfortable Environment: The airport is often described as cold, especially near entrances and large open spaces. Many travelers mention the need for extra clothing or blankets to deal with the low temperatures, making overnight stays particularly uncomfortable.
  2. Rude or Unhelpful Staff: Negative interactions with airport staff, including security personnel, have been noted. Travelers have reported instances where staff were dismissive, unhelpful, or overly strict about airport policies regarding sleeping or resting in the terminal.
  3. Noise and Bright Lighting: The airport’s environment is often not conducive to rest due to constant announcements, noise from ongoing operations, and bright lighting throughout the terminal. These conditions make it difficult for travelers to relax or sleep.
  4. Restrictive Sleeping Policies: Stansted has strict rules against lying down on floors or using items like sleeping bags or mats. Security personnel actively enforce these rules, often waking people and moving them along, which is a significant source of dissatisfaction.
  5. Limited Night-Time Services: While the airport remains open overnight, many shops and services close, limiting access to food, drink, and other amenities during late hours. This can be inconvenient for travelers stuck in the airport overnight.
  6. Overcrowding: Particularly during peak travel times, the airport can become extremely crowded. This overcrowding leads to long queues at check-in, security, and immigration, and a general sense of chaos and discomfort in the terminal.
  7. Expensive and Limited Food Options: Dining options are considered pricey by many travelers. The limited variety during off-hours when fewer outlets are open exacerbates this issue, leaving passengers with few choices for meals or snacks.
  8. Challenging Layout and Long Distances: Some passengers find the layout of the airport confusing, with long distances to gates, which can be particularly taxing if carrying heavy luggage or traveling with small children.

These issues collectively paint a picture of an airport that, while functional for basic travel needs, could significantly improve in terms of comfort, customer service, and amenities to enhance the overall passenger experience.

Take Note of STN Airport Hours as Key Sleep Policy Factor:

Stansted Airport remains open 24 hours a day, but with limitations during the night. While the airport itself does not close, many of its facilities and services do reduce their hours or close overnight.

For instance, most retail and food outlets may close, leaving only a limited number of options available to travelers. Additionally, certain parts of the terminal may be restricted after the last flights of the day have departed or before the first flights in the morning start checking in.

Security checks and check-in areas might also operate on reduced hours, which can affect passengers arriving at the airport overnight. Security typically opens early in the morning, around 2:00 AM to 4:00 AM, to accommodate early departures. This schedule can influence where and how travelers can spend their waiting time, particularly those looking to catch some sleep or find a comfortable spot to rest.

On its official website, it states that “London Stansted’s terminal closes between midnight and 02:00am. Therefore, departing passengers travelling on early morning flights should not arrive sooner than their scheduled check-in time. We do not allow bedding down in the terminal, so please see overnight accommodation options and travel options.”

Snapshot from Stansted Airport website on airport closure at night

Therefore, while Stansted is technically open all night, the available services and the overall functionality of the airport are significantly reduced during these off-peak hours.

More About Stansted Airport’s Restrictive Overnight Sleep Policies:

a poster at Stansted Airport indicating access to departures area is restricted until 2 am
A poster at Stansted Airport indicating access to the departures area is restricted until 2 am. Credit: Sleepinginairports.net

Stansted Airport in Essex is known for being unfriendly to travelers looking to sleep overnight and the Mirror reported that the airport employed ‘anti-snooze’ guards who patrol the terminal every 10 minutes to wake people. This move was criticized as “unfair” and “mean” by travelers.

The airport’s policy discourages overnight stays in the terminal, advising passengers to use local hotels or B&Bs instead.

After the last flight departs, the departures area is closed off for nightly cleaning, and those in the arrivals area are expected to use seating respectfully, considering other passengers who might need to sit.

Understanding the sleep restrictions at STN is crucial, and who better to explain it than John Farrow, the Airport’s Director of Customer Service and Security?

In 2018, he clarified that the airport’s closure from midnight to 2 am was necessary for essential construction work, a key component of its transformation program. For more insights, refer to the video the airport shared on Twitter, as explained by Farrow;

I understand the necessity of restricting access to the Departures/Airside areas of the airport for construction and cleaning purposes. However, what puzzles me is the rationale behind prohibiting the use of portable sleeping aids like sleeping bags and forbidding passengers from sleeping on the floor. He explains this in the video above from 0.38.

From the detailed accounts of travelers at Stansted Airport, there are specific instances where passengers felt like they were being moved or kicked out, especially during the night. Here are some notable mentions:

  1. Security and Cleaning Operations: Travelers have reported that during the night, especially after the last flights, parts of the airport are cordoned off for cleaning. During these times, passengers are asked to move from certain areas, which can feel like being kicked out, especially if they have settled in for the night.
  2. Enforcement of No-Sleeping Rules: There are accounts of security staff waking people up and asking them not to lie down or use sleeping aids such as mats or sleeping bags. This strict enforcement can be interpreted by some passengers as being kicked out of their chosen resting spots.
  3. Restricted Area Access: Some passengers have mentioned that they were not allowed to stay in certain areas of the terminal, particularly around check-in or gate areas, after certain hours. This restriction can lead to a feeling of being pushed out, as they have to find other places within the airport that may be less comfortable or convenient.

2024 Update on Restrictions on Sleeping at STN:

The latest 2024 reviews suggests that despite the restrictive policies on overnight stays implemented at Stansted Airport in 2018, enforcement seems lax or inconsistent. One traveler arrived around 10pm and managed to secure a table for themselves in the arrivals area, indicating a relatively unrestrictive environment regarding where passengers can rest.

Notably, the review doesn’t mention any interaction with security personnel regarding sleeping or resting in the terminal, contrary to the strict sleeping policies that are officially in place. This might imply that while the rules exist, their enforcement is not rigorous, allowing travelers some flexibility in finding spots to rest.

Additionally, the presence of open shops like WH Smith, Costa, and M&S past midnight contributes to a more comfortable and accommodating atmosphere for those needing to stay overnight. This experience starkly contrasts with previous harsher enforcement tales, highlighting a potentially more relaxed approach to overnight guests at Stansted, at least from the latest travelers’ perspectives.

Another Traveler Experience:

In October 2023, a traveler described their experience trying to sleep overnight at Stansted Airport due to a 7am flight. Security gates didn’t open until 2-3am, and by 4am, the terminal was overcrowded. The traveler ended up using three chairs at Burger King in the Arrivals area to sleep, noting that many others did the same with available seating.

The airport’s facilities were criticized for being outdated, uncomfortable, and insufficient for the number of passengers, especially those from budget flights. Additionally, the airport was described as cold, the staff unhelpful, and some misinformation was allegedly given by staff about airport policies on sleeping. Despite these challenges, the traveler noted it was common to see people sleeping in various parts of the airport, suggesting a discrepancy between official policies and actual practices.

Summary of Latest 2024 Reviews Indicate that Sleeping Overnight at STN is Possible

A 2024 review describes an all-night stay in the common hall for arrivals and departures, where connected benches allowed for some rest, albeit with disturbances from noise and conversations. Emergency exits between shops were also utilized for sleeping bags, accommodating about ten people. The reviewer managed only two hours of sleep but found the conditions manageable.

Another 2024 account highlights the availability of movable benches near Gates 90-93, offering a quieter area that seemed safe and moderately comfortable, though the seats were noted as old and not very comfortable.

A 2024 review from February describes the area in the entrance by the check-in as restricted after 23:00 to a small area with limited seating, where most passengers ended up on the floor until the fences were removed at 02:00.

Overall, sleeping at Stansted often involves adapting to less-than-ideal conditions, with structural limitations and inconsistent enforcement of policies frequently affecting the ability to rest comfortably.

STN is Making Progress to Make the Airport More Sleep Friendly to Layover Passengers:

Stansted Airport is actively making strides to become more layover-friendly as part of its £600 million Stansted Transformation Project. The airport has recently increased its seating capacity in the departure lounge by 40 percent, adding 550 new seats and creating a total of over 1,000 seating options.

This expansion includes a dedicated family seating area, a quiet seating area away from busy retail units, and additional seating en route to Satellite 3 gates.

These developments are designed to cater to various passenger needs, from families with children to those seeking a quieter environment before their flights. Moreover, the inclusion of 436 new USB and USC charging points addresses the modern traveler’s need to stay connected. These efforts reflect Stansted’s commitment to improving the passenger experience and accommodating the diverse needs of its travelers.

stansted-seating

STN Hotel Recommendations to Consider for More Comfortable Sleep:

For travelers seeking overnight accommodation at Stansted Airport, several options are varying in convenience and amenities:

  1. Adjacent Hotels: The Radisson Blu Stansted and the Hampton by Hilton Stansted are the most conveniently located hotels, directly connected to the passenger terminal via a covered walkway. The Radisson Blu offers more luxurious accommodations and, while pricier, can provide good value. Radisson also offers day rooms which are available for 4 and 8-hour blocks between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM.
  2. Hotels with Shuttle Service: Other hotels such as the Premier Inn Stansted, Holiday Inn Express Stansted, and the Novotel Stansted, although not within walking distance, offer reliable shuttle services. These are not typically free but are generally more frequent due to these hotels being part of larger chains. Each of the three hotels charges a shuttle service fee of £4 per person.
  3. Budget-Friendly Options: If your priority is a comfortable place to sleep without extra amenities like room service or health clubs, consider the Premier Inn Stansted and Holiday Inn Express. Located next to each other about a mile from the terminals near the airport’s mid-term car park, these hotels offer straightforward, cost-effective accommodations. The Holiday Inn Express and Premier Inn are near a McDonald’s
  4. Breakfast and Value: Only the Holiday Inn Express includes breakfast in the room rate. If looking for a more inclusive deal, some bed and breakfast options might also offer meals.
  5. Parking: If you want a hotel with free overnight parking, consider the Days Inn and Ramada Hotel which are closer to STN. Ibis Budget Travelodge Stansted Bishops Stortford is also about half a mile away and offers free overnight parking. Note that many nearby airport hotels do not offer free parking

Final Word on STN Airport Accommodation Options:

Stansted Airport, being a major hub for budget airlines, sees a high volume of passengers needing overnight accommodations. Travelers can choose from a variety of sleeping options ranging from free rest areas to paid in-airport hotels and nearby hotels with shuttle services.

As a concluding summary of this STN Sleeping Guide, we have outlined the available options categorized into Sleep Pods/Capsule Hotels, Free Designated Rest Areas, Free Non-Designated/Unequipped Hidden Spots, Transit Hotels, In-Airport Hotels, and Nearby Hotels;

CategoryAvailabilitySleep Facility Details
Sleep Pod/Capsule Hotel SolutionsNot AvailableStansted currently does not offer sleep pods or capsule hotel solutions within the terminal.
Free Designated Rest AreasNot AvailableNo designated rest or quiet zones are equipped within the terminals.
Free Non-Designated/Unequipped Hidden SpotsAvailableTravelers can find unequipped sleeping spots in various areas: floors near check-in desks, behind structures, or near cafes.
Transit HotelsNot AvailableNo transit hotels within the secured area of the airport.
In-Airport HotelsAvailableRadisson Blu Hotel, located within walking distance of the terminal, offering convenient and comfortable accommodations.
Nearby Hotels with Shuttle ServiceAvailableSeveral nearby hotels, including Holiday Inn Express and Premier Inn, provide free shuttle services to and from the airport.

Key Accommodation Options Detailed:

  1. In-Airport Hotels
    • Availability: Available
    • Details:
      • Radisson Blu Hotel: A short walk from the terminal, providing full hotel services and amenities including comfortable beds, dining, and meeting facilities.
  2. Nearby Hotels with Shuttle Service
    • Availability: Available
    • Details: Several hotels in the vicinity offer free shuttle services to the airport:
      • Holiday Inn Express: Affordable option with complimentary breakfast and shuttle service.
      • Premier Inn: Known for its comfortable rooms and proximity to the airport.
      • Novotel: Provides modern accommodations and shuttle services.

Travelers can use this guide to select the best sleeping arrangements based on their preferences and needs at Stansted Airport.

Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.