I have stayed on many occasions at the Renaissance Heathrow (and sometimes at the more modern Marriott on the same road). The Renaissance is usually cheaper but it has always lagged behind because of its extremely dated 1970's decor. In addition, the rooms are also smaller than the Marriott which does have a very nice swimming pool (the Renaissance got rid of their pool many years ago).
However, the Renaissance are now part way through a major refurbishment and I am happy to report that it is greatly improved. The rooms remain the same size though more modern with very nice furnishings. The club lounge has also had a compete makeover and is much brighter and is in the same place so for the plane spotting fans you still get the same great view of the runway.
The lobby has been modernised as has the bar and restaurant. There is a Starbucks in the lobby too.
On this occasion I was very impressed by Isabel who checked me in, who voluntarily told me everything about the refurb and upgraded me to a lovely suite (I am Platinum) and escorted me to my suite and then took me to the club lounge to show me the makeover. She could not have been more helpful. I have stayed in their suites before and they are basically the size of 2 regular rooms and the furnishings were lovely. The sitting room could have done with another table lamp between the sofa and the desk as it was rather dark apart from the ceiling lights which are over the desk and main door. The new bathroom was very impressive, the 70's half round bath had gone and was replaced by a beautiful oval shaped freestanding bath and also a seperate glass shower cubicle.
The lifts in the Renaissance have always been a nightmare - they take forever to go anywhere, but now 2 of the 4 are being replaced, and then the other 2 will follow. Hooray!
There is good gym in the basement and a mixed steam room plus a small sauna in the mens locker room. The opening hours of the steam and sauna are ridiculous and need bringing in line with the demands of hotel guests, though I understand the gym is open 24 hours a day.
I decided to eat in the new bar area which is pleasantly furnished and the beer battered fish and chips were not only beautifully presented, they tasted delicious and quite possibly the best I've ever had, and I also had very attentive and friendly service from Paul.
Overall, a massive improvement, and when the rest of the room and corridors are finished it will be wonderful. At the moment there is a mix of styles in the hallways, some with the ghastly and dark green carpets and walls, and the brand new gray carpets and walls which were perhaps a bit too bright on the eyes but maybe thats because of the contrast between the old and the new.
For anyone who hasn't been to the Renaissance before, there are local buses (free) to Heathrow Central for the main terminals, and another free bus to T5, both of which stop a few yards away from the front of the hotel. The hotel is a 10 minute free bus ride from outside Hatton Cross Underground station.