Best way from Heathrow to London?

Identify best airport transfer for your destination in Central London from Heathrow Airport

The London Underground - The Cheapest Way Between Heathrow & London

First of all let us get one thing out of the way, there is no universal "best way” from Heathrow to London that fits everyone's needs and budget.

The following few paragraphs are designed to help you identify the best transfer option for your needs and also provides some tips on helping yourself make the transfer into London as stress free and good value as possible.

After reading, if you are still stumped on the best way from Heathrow to central London, then there is a link at the end where we will be glad to discuss your individual requirement.

When you say 'best' do you mean cheapest way to London?

If by best you really mean the cheapest way between Heathrow and central London then it is simple, look no further, just take the London Underground.

If you are on a budget, the only reason not to take the Underground (from the airport to London direction anyway) is if you are travelling with lots of luggage, are not able to negotiate stairs and escalators with your luggage independently or have chosen your hotel in a location requiring several changes of train or a long walk from the nearest Underground.

When you say 'best' do you mean fastest and most stress free?

Heathrow to Paddington

The fastest and most stress free transfer from Heathrow to London is the dedicated airport train, the Heathrow Express. This takes just 15 minutes from Heathrow to Paddington Station running every 15 minutes.

However, if you are not staying in the Paddington, Bayswater or Marble Arch area it may be a tortoise and hare situation, where once you get to Paddington you are still a long way from your hotel. If your hotel is in the Kensington High Street, Earl's Court Road or Gloucester Road area you will be doubling back on yourself and the Underground will actually be quicker.

The Heathrow Express is fully priced, although there are cheaper fares available when you book well in advance. Something you should be able to do once you know your flight times. There is also a cheaper stopping train, the TFL Heathrow Train that runs on the same tracks, is much cheaper, but less frequent and is slightly slower.

Most convenient London hotel districts to/from Heathrow

Earl's Court Hotel area, Kensington
Earl's Court hotel area, Kensington

The most convenient central London hotel districts for Heathrow Airport are the Earl's Court and Gloucester Road areas of Kensington and Paddington.

Heathrow to Earl's Court and Gloucester Road areas of Kensington

Earl's Court is geographically the closest major hotel district to Heathrow. It has the direct Underground link taking 35-40 minutes, with trains at least every 5 minutes. Earl's Court Station is unusual in that it is in two transport zones, 1 and 2. From Heathrow, fares are cheaper than the next station along (Gloucester Road) but travelling into the centre of London Earl's Court is the same price as anywhere else in central London.

The main road out to Heathrow goes through Earl's Court so a private car will be the cheapest fare too as opposed to any other London hotel district.

Earl's Court has a bias towards budget hotels but also has very good value mid-range chains like  Premier InnBest Western and Ibis as well as a scattering of luxury hotels including a Marriott and is fine as a place to stay. A few hundred yards down the road around the next Underground station, Gloucester Road, the bias shifts towards larger, 4-star type hotels.

Kensington hotel area guide

Kensington hotels


Heathrow to Paddington

Paddington is the terminus of the Heathrow Express and TFL Rail Heathrow trains. These are the most stress free, fastest and most comfortable transfer options available.

Indeed if you stay at a hotel around Paddington Station, of which there are many, you can be at check-in before getting to some of Heathrow's own airport hotels.

The Heathrow Express train is a premium dedicated airport train. If you are watching your budget, the TFL Heathrow train is a less frequent stopping train but at nearly half the price.

Paddington hotel area guide

Paddington hotel area details

Transfers by road from Heathrow

London Heathrow National Express bus
Affordable long distance transport
London Heathrow private shuttle van
Private transfers offer meet and greet

Once upon a time there were frequent dedicated airport buses, these quickly went out of business when the Heathrow Express train started operating, offering faster journey times not interrupted by London's traffic and the Underground was also extended to Heathrow.

There are still road transfer options into London from Heathrow available, but only a tiny minority of passengers at Heathrow use these services.

National Express Coach to London Victoria

National Express Coaches dominate scheduled long distance travel within the UK. On many of the services, Heathrow is the last stop before the London terminus. You can buy a ticket between Heathrow Airport and the London terminus at Victoria at a price that is only slightly more expensive than the Underground.

The coaches have washrooms and are very comfortable, but only really operate from the Central Bus Station between Terminals 2 and 3. If you are using Terminals 4 or 5 there is a tedious free train service to the centre of the airport.

Schedules are not optimised for London transfers, you may get 4 or 5 buses one after another then a gap of an hour at one extreme.

More about National Express buses

Hotel van shuttle services

Hotel van shuttle services common in other countries also find it almost impossible to compete with the train and Underground based alternatives at Heathrow.

Every so often someone has a go at providing a service, but in recent years none have yet been able to last that long. High prices, the slowness of the transfer and a high probability of traffic delays that every road based transfer contends with are the main reasons for failure.

More about hotel van shuttle service

Private cars & London black cab services

London's famous black cabs form the well organised taxi rank outside each terminal at Heathrow.

Private car services called mini cabs are cheaper alternatives you must book in advance. The driver will normally personally meet and greet you as you exit the customs and baggage hall.

The big problem with car based transfers are that you at the mercy of London's traffic. Weekdays getting into London from 7.30am to 10am and 5pm to 7pm and Sunday evenings can be very slow and unpredictable. If your destinations is beyond the hotel districts of Kensington and Victoria the journey time will be particularly unpredictable.

More about private cars & vans

Transfers for families & groups

If there are more than two of you it will probably be cheaper to hire a private car from Heathrow than take the Heathrow Express to Paddington, then a black cab to your hotel.

If there are more than ten of you then hiring your own bus for a private transfer starts to make economic sense in its own right, as well as being very convenient.

More about private cars & group transfers

Transfers for those travelling heavy (more than one case weighing 20kg/44lb)

Travelling with luggage on the London Underground can be a stressful experience. If you have more than one case or have one case that is heavy we would recommend that you do not use the London Underground.

District by district summary of Heathrow transfer convenience

Kensington (Earl's Court, Gloucester Road, South Kensington, Knightsbridge)

Paddington trains - Not recommended

London Underground - Excellent

National Express - Not recommended

Private Cars/Buses - Excellent

Paddington, Bayswater, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch

Paddington trains - Excellent

London Underground - OK

National Express - Not recommended

Private Cars/Buses - OK

Bloomsbury, Euston, King's Cross, St Pancras

Paddington trains - OK with black taxi but expensive

London Underground - Excellent but tedious

National Express - Not recommended

Private Cars/Buses - Tedious and slow

County Hall

Paddington trains - Not recommended

London Underground - OK

National Express - Not recommended

Private Cars/Buses - Can be tedious and slow

Train Feltham to Waterloo - Worth evaluating


Victoria, Pimlico, St James

Paddington trains - Not recommended

London Underground - OK

National Express - OK

Private Cars/Buses - OK


Trafalgar Square, Leicester, Square, Covent Garden

Paddington trains - OK with black taxi but expensive

London Underground - Good

National Express - Not recommended

Private Cars/Buses - OK, erratic journey times


Blackfriars, London Bridge, Tower Bridge, City of London

Paddington trains - Not recommended

London Underground - OK but time consuming

National Express - Not recommended

Private Cars/Buses - Can be tedious and very slow


Docklands & Canary Wharf

Whichever method you use it will be an ordeal.



Heathrow transfers to London airports

We have dedicated pages explaining the transfer options from Heathrow to London airports.

Airport transfer overview

Heathrow to Gatwick

Heathrow to Luton

Heathrow to Stansted

London - Heathrow comparison of public transport from 3 March 2024 - March 2025


Standard Adult Fare*

One way


London Underground (Cash)



London Underground (Oyster Card)



National Express Bus to Victoria



Elizabeth Line Train



Heathrow Express Train (Anytime - web single ticket)



Heathrow Express Train (30 Day Advance)



Heathrow Express Train (60 Day Advance)



Heathrow Express Train (90 Day Advance)



Hotel Shared Shuttle Central London



* Standard adult ticket. Other promotional fares may appear from time to time.

Heathrow Express train - Children under 15 free, online only one-way fare. Cheapest fare for both weekday and weekend travel.

Cheapest Heathrow Express fares are only available 90 days or over in advance and only using the mobile app. A select amount of cheaper tickets are released per day (300) which will help you find cheaper rates when booking in advance, but if these are already sold, then a standard fare will be shown.

Where Heathrow public transport goes in central London

Heathrow - London Terminal Map covering piccadily line to heathrow
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