The Best Area To Stay In London Flying into Heathrow
Author: Bob Handford
“Best” can mean different things to different people, cheapest, best value, close to the sights, health clubs, pampering, near nightlife or theatres …
For the purpose of this discussion we’re really saying what are the most convenient hoel districts if you are staying in London.
So first lets take a look at the major hotel districts.
Where Not To Stay
The easiest aspect is to outline hotel areas of London that will get you off to a seriously bad start if you book accommodation in them, (unless you splash out on a taxi.)
The hotel areas that are particularly bad for Heathrow are those in the City Of London, Tower of London, London Bridge, Waterloo, Blackfriars and County Hall areas. And don’t even think of going the other side of London from Heathrow to Docklands.
Kensington – The Easiest All Round Hotel District For Heathrow
The easiest hotel district logistically for Heathrow is Kensington. Its the closest mainstream hotel district to Heathrow and the main road out to Heathrow from London passes right through it, as does the Piccadilly Line of the London Undeground.
The district goes further and further upmarket as you travel into London along the Cromwell Road, (the extention of the motorway/freeway from Heathrow).
Earls Court is the place for low cost, the Gloucester Road area is the area for chain value 4 stars like Holiday Inn, Knightsbridge is one of the most expensive and exclusive districts of London to stay in.
If you have a family or a couple with lots of luggage a private car with meet n greet at the airport should be around the same price or cheaper than taking the Heathrow Express into London.
The Piccadilly Line of the London Underground runs every 5 minutes to Heathrow from about 5 a.m. to midnight and is the cheapest way to get to and from Heathrow. Trains from Earls Court, Gloucester Road, South Kensington and Knightsbridge take 40-50 minutes with stations beneath the passenger terminals.
There are plenty of restaurants to suit all budgets in the area and excellent public transport links to the main attractions. At Gloucester Road and Earls Court are proper full size supermarkets, not the small convenience style outlets you get elsewhere in Central London.
Paddington – The Fastest Link To Heathrow By Heathrow Express
Paddington is not particularly central and its environment is OK but not outstanding. The big attraction here is speed to the airport using the Heathrow Express train. Trains run every 15 minutes and take 15-20 minutes to Heathrow depending on terminal required. There are hotels of all types and budget around the station. Its probably quicker to get to check-in at Heathrow from Paddington using the Heathrow Express train than staying at many Heathrow hotels. There is a wide range of accommodation for all budgets around the station.
Looking For Cheap Accommodation?
If low cost is the overwhelming factor that determines where you stay then look at Earls Court Kensington and St Pancras. Both are on the Piccadilly Line of the Underground the cheapest Heathrow transfer available. Earls Court has the convenience of being the closest to Heathrow, Kings Cross/St Pancras may have cheap or cheaper accommodation with better reviews.
If you prefer the Heathrow Express transfer into London then Paddington itself has plenty of cheap hotels. Bayswater, adjacent to Paddington is worth checking out too. Bayswater is orientated around the budget market and is a pleasant place to stay as well. Room rates here are cheap during the working week but at weekends can double in price or more.
You Want To Be Downtown, Close To The Theatre ….
London has no downtown area in the North American sense. Sights are spread out, as are the hotels. You will be using public transport and walking to get around.
The nearest thing to a downtown area is the West End area where most but not all of the theatres are. Most hotels are 4 or 5 star global chain type hotels or exclusive boutique hotels. If you are in London on an expense account then its fine or if money is no object – for others not quite so fortunate they tend to look for something just a little further out the second time.
Bloomsbury is an atmospheric literary district that fits this bill with a good range of accommodation. If you don’t take the Underground from Heathrow then the train to Paddington then a black cab or a shorter journey on the Underground will be part of your transfer.
Want A Solid 4 Star Hotel But Don’t Want to Break The Bank ….
If you have one eye on the wallet, want a comfortable base in London but are not willing to pay the crazy prices of many luxury hotels then from Heathrow the benchmark is again going to be Kensington. Value for money 4 star hotels are centred around Gloucester Road Underground Station. The Holiday inn Kensington Forum and Copthorne Tara are perhaps likely suspects to start your search. Prices are very volatile, almost from day to day what is great value can soon become eye watering in price. If you do not need the frills of a 4 star like concierge services, room service etc try looking at a decent 3 star. Premier Inn are probably the benchmark here with high standards in the budget sector.
If you prefer the Paddington route, then the same applies around Paddington Station, rooms are very volatile. Try the Hilton Metropole or Novotel Paddington.
Bloomsbury is another prime location to check out. At weekends just north of Bloomsbury the 4 stars around St Pancras and Euston Stations can offer very good deals.
Victoria hasn’t the easy connections that Paddington, Earls Court and Gloucester Road have, but is very close.
In addition Victoria has another option that other districts do not, the National Express Coach Service to Victoria Coach Station, a few hundred yards from rail and Underground Stations but still within the vast Victoria hotel district. The National Express coaches are not dedicated airport buses but do offer very comfortable and cheap transfers.
The London Underground offers a pretty good option too with a seemless switch of trains at Hammersmith at the same platform.
Victoria is central, Buckingham Palace is only 5 minutes walk from the train station and has hotels in every category.
Room rates are very volatile according to season but do peak at weekends.
The Best Way From Heathrow To London – Discussion of all Heathrow – London options
Kensington Hotels – Earls Court, Gloucester Road, South Kensington
Paddington Hotels – Accommodation around Paddington Station
Victoria Hotels – Accommodation around Victoria Station
Kings Cross St Pancras Hotels – Value for money accommodation, a great transport hub
West End Hotels – Hotels in the geographical centre of London