Facts about Crawley from an unfortunate former resident:
- It's a housing estate, pure and simple, a huge bloody great hundred-or-so-thousand-people housing estate.
- A housing estate for people working at Gatwick airport. 25,000 people work at Gatwick, and they all live here. Population is made up of baggage handlers, beggars, air hostesses and yobbish children produced by underage mothers. Never seen a pilot - they must sleep elsewhere. Town amenities are dirty pubs, dirty brothels, and dirty parks where beggars sleep and yobbish children smoke fags on the way to skipping school.
- The only good thing about Crawley is that it's easy to leave - it's 45 minutes to London on the train, an hour to the hip seaside town of Brighton, and there's an airport on its doorstep.
- The Europa's claim that it's "far enough away to make sure that your sleep is not disturbed by aeroplanes flying overhead" is complete rubbish. Trust us, we lived here. Gatwick turns around 80,000 passengers and several thousand aeroplanes a day, and we could never count how many at night - an awful, sleep-disturbing lot, though.
- The only hotel that's possibly dirtier than the Europa is the George Hotel, at which we once had the displeasure of eating after winning a competition in the local paper. We remember it distinctly. Aubergine stuffed with fag-ash, a dried-up chicken-leg that could have come off one of the scrawny waiters, and a smell of three-day-old hairy sweat in the air. Someone had carefully screwed a mirror into the wall several centimetres off the correct angle. Not so much shabby chic as shabby crap.
If you're flying into Gatwick airport, don't stay at the Europa, don't stay at the George, and do make sure you fly out again quickly.