London airport transfers

Make an informed choice with your transfer from airport to Central London hotel

Map of Relative Position Of London's Airports

London currently has five major airports that support regular commercial flights. Even the smallest airport, City Airport, has over 3 million passengers passing through each year. All five airports form a ring around London, each between 5 and 40 miles outside from the centre.

The busiest airport is Heathrow Airport to the west of London, City Airport is the closest to the centre of London.


Heathrow and Gatwick dominate all the intercontinental flights. Stansted, Luton and Gatwick host the low cost budget airlines with the main players Ryanair and easyJet flying from all three. There is a continuous flow of passengers between Heathrow and the other airports as passengers interchange between a long intercontinental flight and a cheap budget airline European flight.

London airport transfers - key facts

  • For leisure travellers with one eye on cost using a taxi or private car service is only practical from Heathrow and City airports

  • Van style hotel shuttles are not generally available. Currently, the only hotel shuttle service is at Heathrow Airport. However, very few people use it as it manages to be both slower and more expensive than other public transport options.

  • The fastest most comfortable transfer from all airports is by train. Vehicle based transfers including taxi cabs are slower and unpredictable because of traffic congestion. Airport bus services are cheaper than the train by far but suffer by being prone to traffic delays, despite the bus lanes in London.

  • When it comes to airport transfers, being in a hotel at the centre of London around Trafalgar Square is inconvenient, compared with some hotel districts just outside the centre. London has no real "downtown" area where all hotels are clustered together, instead they and the sights are spread over a wide area.


    All the airport services terminate in hotel districts around the centre. Factoring in your airport and its connections with the various hotel districts should be considered as an important part of your hotel selection process. Having a hotel on the other side of London from your airport can be tedious, time consuming and expensive.

Heathrow Airport transfers

Heathrow Airport is about 15 miles west of London. It has 4 terminals, numbered 1, 3, 4 and 5. Which terminal you are arriving at can make a big difference to the smoothness of your transfer. The passenger terminals are literally miles apart serviced by three different train stations not all serviced by the same transfer options.

The fastest, money no object service is the Heathrow Express train service to London's Paddington Station, 15 minutes every 15 minutes is its motto. The only reason not to use the Heathrow Express is cost or that Paddington is inconvenient for the location of your hotel. Another cheaper train called TFL Rail Heathrow runs the same route but is slower as it makes stops, less frequent, but is much cheaper.


The third train option is the London Underground, by far the cheapest transfer option. The Underground is best part of an hour into London, (that may still be faster than a taxi at busy times). There will be an Underground Station near your hotel.

There is a cheap airport bus to London Victoria, but its not a dedicated airport bus and is not convenient if you are using Terminals 4 or 5. Likewise there is a Hotel Shuttle service but very few people use it.


Heathrow is really the only airport that leisure travellers would consider a taxi or a private car service, especially if they are staying in Kensington, the closest hotel district to Heathrow and inconvenient for Paddington trains.

Heathrow Airport transfers - More Details

Gatwick Airport transfers

Gatwick airport is 30 miles south of London. For most people transferring between Gatwick Airport and Central London, the answer is train, the only question being which one. Even the slowest trains are much faster than a taxi or private car and for the most part more comfortable. Like Heathrow there is a fast expensive train called the Gatwick Express train and much cheaper stopping trains. There is also a choice of routes into London.


There are a couple of very cheap bus services, National Express and easyBus. As said before, a private car or taxi can only make sense if you are a large group and/or have lots of outsize luggage.

Gatwick Airport transfers - More Details

Stansted Airport transfers

Stansted Airport is the furthest airport from Central London. Too far out for taxi or private cars to make sense for a transfer to Central London, its really a straight choice between train and airport bus.


The train is called the Stansted Express and like the Heathrow Express and Gatwick express is the fastest most comfortable transfer option of the lot. The main drawback of the Stansted express is its London terminus, Liverpool Street. Deep in the business area of London it is quite a long way from where most leisure travellers will have their London accommodation.


The alternative are the many airport bus services that between them cover most parts of Central London. Some of the services do not come into the centre of London but stop on the outskirts of London at an Underground Station, thus avoiding the worst of any traffic congestion.

Stansted Airport transfers - More Details

Luton Airport transfers

Like Stansted, Luton Airport is best part of 40 miles to the north of London. Its really a straight choice between the Thameslink Trains and the airport bus service. As ever the train option is much faster, but more expensive than the bus. The train service goes through the eastern side of the centre of London, including St Pancras, Blackfriars and London Bridge. The bus runs through the western side of Central London through Marble Arch, Baker Street and Victoria, much closer to where most leisure travellers will have their hotels.

The Luton Airport train service doesn't actually go to the airport itself, instead there is a shuttle bus service that travels the 5 minute journey between airport terminal and Luton Parkway Station. The price of the bus shuttle is included in the price of your rail ticket.


The Luton Airport bus service is run by National Express, who run airport buses to all of London's 4 major airports from London Victoria.

Luton Airport transfers - More Details

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