When you arrive in London at Heathrow Airport, you are 27.7km, or 17.2 miles, from London. In order to begin your visit to this incredible city, you must first make your way to your hotel. What is the best way to do this? There are several options to consider. Depending on your travel circumstances, one will emerge as the best way to get into the city of London.
When traveling in from Heathrow, you have to realize that the options are different depending on how many people are in your group. A single person with no luggage can realistically use different methods than a large family with several large suitcases. While there is nothing ruling out the large family taking the subway, ("Tube"), for example, this is simply not the best family travel method. Each scenario must be evaluated separately to find the best travel option. The list below identifies points that apply to each of the identified situations.
1) Single Traveler With a Single Suitcase
The single traveler has the most options available to them. The Tube, a bus, taxi or train are all possible choices. In order to gauge the best travel method into London, this traveler should focus on cost. A taxi will be the most expensive option. While convenient, it might not be very good value.
An average single direction taxi cost is £39.80 which is more than $60. For that, you may be spending a fair bit of time stuck in traffic as well. This could boost the price even higher. Luckily the city of London is much less congested than it used to be but there is always road construction or other factors that could affect your trip.
Instead, the single traveler should consider public transit. Signs lead from the arrival area to the Tube station. Once there, you can purchase a ticket for £4.50. If you think that you might use transit again on your first day, go to the transit ticket information booth, just outside the Tube entrance wickets. Purchase a day card for as low as £7.50. The day card is £14.80 before 9:30am Monday to Friday, but not on holidays. You may want to get a coffee and wait until 9:30am before buying it. The day card will allow you to use the Tube and the surface buses for the rest of the day without any additional charge.
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2) Couple With One or Two Suitcases
A couple of travelers can likely use the Tube to get from Heathrow into the city of London. This depends on the amount of luggage that you have. The Tube can get quite crowded which makes it difficult to get off. There is not much stopping time at the Tube stations so you have to move rather quickly when the doors open. Making your way past other passengers might be difficult.
You can improve your exiting experience by planning ahead at Heathrow. When you enter the Tube car, position yourself and your luggage near the door and stand for the whole trip. This will allow you the shortest possible exit route. Of course, if you cannot stand in place for the 1.5 hour Tube trip, they you should consider travel options besides the Tube.
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3) Couple with More Luggage
or those with mobility impairment
If you have a lot of luggage for an extended trip or you have difficulty getting around, you should consider the Heathrow Express Train rather than the Tube. This service takes you, and your luggage, from Heathrow to Paddington Station with comfort and ease. At £32 per couple, however, you should consider where your hotel is located.
If you are heading to Notting Hill, Hyde Park or Baker Street areas, this train would be a great choice. Upon arriving at Paddington Station, a short taxi cab ride will take you to your hotel for a few pounds more. If your hotel is located further away, near the Tower of London or Greenwich, you should travel from Heathrow like a family, via a taxi.
4) Family of Four With Luggage
A family should head from Heathrow to their hotel in London via a taxi. Travel via the Tube is most definitely out of the question. The logistics of getting your family and luggage off the Tube car at a crowded station would be a disaster. Don't let the Tube fool you. When you board at Heathrow, it is the start of the line so all of the cars are empty and spacious. They fill up with people quickly as they reach the stations on the line to London.
By all means, you and your family should take a taxi from Heathrow into the city of London. Signs show the way to the taxi stand from the arrival area. Once there, you can load your luggage into the taxi and head directly to your hotel. While the taxi fare will vary greatly depending on the time of day and the location of your hotel, it will offer you the maximum convenience. The fare to a hotel in the western London area will be cheapest, perhaps £41 or $65. The fare to Canary Wharf will be about £81 or $130. The higher fare to Canary Wharf is due to the additional time necessary to traverse the length of the city of London. You may want to consider this when you are choosing your your hotel prior to leaving home.
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5) Rental Car
This option is usually a bad one for London tourists. Parking in London is difficult to find and quite expensive. Just entering the city with a car incurs a congestion charge. If you want to rent a car in England, it would be best to get one as you are leaving London, not when you arrive. There are car hire firms near the outskirts of the city. Rent a car there and save time and money. You could even take a train to your second destination and rent a car there. Do what you can to avoid having a car within the city of London.
Travelers arriving at Heathrow Airport in London have several options to consider when making their way to their hotel. Each of the main travel methods offers value depending on the needs of your travel group. While the Tube, trains and taxis are all possibilities, the size of your party and the amount of luggage you have will determine which is the best method. Planning this initial trip, well before you arrive in London, gives you the maximum amount of control both of your time and budget. The results of a bad choice can be very aggravating or even more costly. You simply don't want to complicate your initial trip in England.