Travel Tips for London Airports
With a huge SIX airports, getting to your London hotel from arrivals can be a daunting challenge. There are plenty of choices, that’s for sure, but picking between them can be tricky. Generally, faster transfers are more expensive, so we’ll be keeping an eye on the clock and another on your wallet to help you get the best deal.
All options are on the table, apart from hiring a car if you’re heading into Central London – that’s just going to be more hassle than it’s worth. Plus you’ll end up spending a small fortune on parking, petrol and congestion charges.
If you’re staying in the East of London, getting here can be as cheap as £10 in a taxi, but beware if you’re travelling across to West London, the longer distance and the congestion can bump this up quite a lot. To be sure of the fare, book a minicab and get a quote in advance. City Airport is on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), so this can be the easiest way to travel from Central London. Cash prices are £4.30 but with an Oyster this can be £2.60 off-peak. There is no overground rail service here, but there are plenty of ways to connect to the DLR.
With coaches, buses, hotel hoppers, taxis, minicabs, the tubeline, trains and the superfast express Heathrow Express, the choices at Heathrow epitomise the dilemma. Don’t discount taking a minicab – book in advance and you could pay as little as £30, which is a bargain if you’re sharing the cost. You can’t get faster than the Heathrow Express, straight into Paddington in 15 minutes, but for £38 return. Heathrow Connect runs a slower train along the same route – it takes 35 minutes and costs £13.80 return. Coaches are similarly priced but arrive into London Victoria, and if you’re looking for a bargain, the Piccadilly Line is where it’s at – costing £5.30 cash or just £2.90 off-peak with an Oyster! It’s not quick though, with times to King’s Cross of around an hour.
A little further out of London, expect a pre-booked minicab to cost around £45, which can still work out reasonably cheap if you share with two others. The Gatwick Express is definitely the fastest way to get to the airport, with trains from Victoria. Returns cost £27.90 and the travel time is 30 minutes. There are other train services as well that offer a slower route, and lower prices. Beware that not all of them have dedicated luggage racks so it can be harder to transport all your bags. The coaches are the way to get the bargain fares here, with National Express and Easy Bus offering fares from £2 each way – expect journey times of around an hour and a half.
London’s newest airport, they haven’t quite got the options of some of the older and more established airports, but chances are you won’t need many choices. The train station is so close to the terminal (100 steps we hear) and it really is very convenient. Trains depart to Liverpool Street Station and run via Stratford so getting to the Olympic Site is simple. Journey times of 55 minutes to the centre or 44 minutes to Stratford will have you in the heart of the action in no time, and prices start from £22.10 return.
At nearly 60 miles outside London, taking a minicab is perhaps a stretch too far on this one! There are some great coach options though, with the Stansted Shuttle costing £14 return and the National Express costing as little as £5.50 each way if you book ahead. Expect journey times to take between an hour and a half and two hours. Trains are the fastest way to get there, with the Stansted Express departing from Liverpool Street Station and taking around 45 minutes. Prices are £31.50 return, or slightly less if you book in advance. There are also a wide range of other trains that run the route on a slower service, costing slightly less – and you can make big savings with advance tickets.
The furthest away of all London airports, Luton can seem like a hassle to get to, but with cheap flights tending to arrive and depart from here, more and more of us are making the trip. Coaches galore are on offer – National Express, GreenLine, Easy Bus and Terravision all offer coach travel between the airport and central London destinations. Easy Bus is the cheapest with prices from £2. You can also get to London by train – make sure to buy a ticket with a Luton Shuttle included, as the first leg of the journey is a 10 minute bus to the nearby train station. Trains arrive into from King’s Cross in around an hour and you can get singles from £10.40 and anytime returns from £25.
Prices correct as of 29th May 2012.