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Getting to Gatwick and home again

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Our original itinerary has changed and at the end of our quick swing from Oxford to Bath next spring, we will be taking a flight from London Gatwick to Venice departing at 2:00 P.M.. We will be coming from Bath that morning and would appreciate advice from all you knowledgeable UK travelers about the easiest and I hope also the least expensive transport between Bath Spa and Gatwick.

And on the subject of airports, at a later point we will be returning to the US via United at London Heathrow. In order to make that early flight we plan to stay at the airport the night prior to departure. From what I can see, it appears that United flies from Terminal 1. The Sofitel at Terminal 5 is out of our budget. Would the Hilton in/at Terminal 4 be a better bet than an off-airport hotel? I'm completely unfamiliar with LHR and would appreciate any advice on this question as well.

Thanks for your help.

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