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Do we/should we go into London from Heathrow?


Jun 13th, 2014, 03:07 PM
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Do we/should we go into London from Heathrow?

My husband and I have never been to London, but we are passing through after a trip to France. July 1, we fly out of Marseille at 2130 & arrive at Heathrow at 2230. We are staying at the Sofitel at the airport. Our flight the next day leaves at 1430.

My husband thinks we should get up early & take the train into London for a few hours. Don't know what we would see or if we would even have time. I am always a bit anxious about making flights, so although I would like to visit London, get a feeling for the city in order to decide if we want to plan a trip there, I'm concerned about missing our flight or having to go through a lot of rushing and anxiety about making the flight. How difficult would this be?

Any advice?
topeater is offline  
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Jun 13th, 2014, 03:29 PM
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14:30 flight means being at the airport at midday

Allow an hour from central London to Heathrow so that's 11:00.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 03:50 PM
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Assuming you need to be at the airport for a Transatlantic flight, you must arrive at Heathrow by 1130. The Tower of London only opens at 9, ditto most other attractions. It'll take 45-60 minutes from central London to get to Heathrow; add 15-30 for Tube (especially if you mess up and get on the wrong Piccadilly Line - it goes to more than one terminus west of central London).

Taxi from your hotel to central London will be nearly $100 each way (60 quid). Car service is 32-38 pounds ($50-65) each way. The Tube is cheapish, but will take at least an hour to the Tower, and 45 minutes to Westminster.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 04:20 PM
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Hopefully when you do you won't run into a condescending Brit named Flanner
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Jun 13th, 2014, 04:41 PM
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But you can walk around and see the outside of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, St. Margaret's Church, the Houses of Parliament, and the Thames. That's iconic enough for me if I had never been to London.

People can give you good instructions for using the tube that won't break the bank.
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Jun 13th, 2014, 04:50 PM
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The problem is that they simply don't have the time for a trip into London. See posts by dotheboyshall and BigRuss.
historytraveler is offline  
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Jun 14th, 2014, 01:04 AM
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Stay overnight in Windsor as it is not too far from LHR
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Jun 15th, 2014, 01:07 AM
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Or you can either go for a short visit at Windsor, as it's much closer to Heathrow than central London. You can either use public transportation or a minicab service for example (black cabs are too expensive).
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Jun 15th, 2014, 04:49 AM
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Luggage adds an extra complexity, you wont want to cart it around London or Windsor with you.

You could probably leave it at your hotel but then have to return to collect it after your sightseeing, which adds time.

If you are lucky you may be able to check bags in at airport before your trip but some airlines only open bag drop a limited time before flight or airport left luggage which costs around £7.50 per item
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Jun 15th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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I'll make a leap here -- since you are staying at the Sofitel, my guess is budget isn't that big an issue - right?

If so, early in the AM take a cab to Windsor and wander around. You might decide to skip touring the Castle since you'll need to be back at the Sofitel by noon . . . assuming you are flying out of T-5, you'll need to be back earlier if you are flying out of one of the more distant terminals. But you actually do have time to spend an hour or 90 minutes inside the Castle. It opens at 9:45. Even if you skip the castle - you can spend a nice few hours wandering around Windsor.
janisj is online now  
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Jun 15th, 2014, 11:21 AM
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We had a connection like this, albeit with slightly later flight on Day #2.

We opted for a B&B in London to enjoy the neighborhood for a rather late dinner and then walkabout in the morning before taking taxi to train to Heathrow. It does mean some schlepping of luggage you wouldn't have if you just leave it at the Sofitel, so may not make sense to you. Just another way of thinking about the temptation to use every possible minute.

Like the Windsor suggestion, too.
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Jun 15th, 2014, 11:29 AM
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Normally - I'd stay in central London w/ that long a lay over. However in this case they'll be lucky to get to a central hotel until well after midnight -- and nearly 1AM is possible. Then they'd have to leave central London by around 11AM so if they slept in til even just 8AM the very most they'd have free would be 2 hours (since they'd have to return to the hotel to retrieve the bags)

Of course if one is willing to stay at Paddington, then the HEX makes things easier/faster. But then they'd be far from anyplace interesting.
janisj is online now  
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Jun 15th, 2014, 05:38 PM
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I think people are scaring you a bit here. If you have the money (or can buy a ticket in advance, which is cheaper), you could go into London for a few hours if you catch Heathrow Express.

They're right - getting the Tube is time consuming and will take you 1 hour each way - but Heathrow Express takes you to Paddington in 15 minutes. It will cost you £19.80 return if you buy in advance - http://ojp.nationalrail.co.uk/servic...p#-OutwardJump You can get any train back (if you buy a return), and leave about 11:00 and be back for 11:15 - 11:30.

The first train you can get into London is 05:07. I'd just say get a train around 07:00ish, go have breakfast in Central London somewhere before all the tourists come out. Take a Tube to Westminster and just have a walk around there (Buckingham Palace/Big Ben/Westminster Abbey), and a tube from there to London Bridge/Tower Hill - walk around Tower Bridge/Tower of London... Then head back to Paddington. Remember most museums in London are free too, so you can just go into a museum for 10 minutes for a quick look if you wanted to, but I'd say just go for a walk with your timescale.

So something like this-

07:00 Leave Heathrow (Central) (Terminal 5 takes 21 mins)
07:30 Arrive Paddington (taking delays into account or whatever)
07:35 Get Tube to Green Park
07:55 Walk from Green Park to Westminster (you'll see Buckingham Palace/Big Ben)
09:00 Tube from Westminster to London Bridge
09:05 Walk from London Bridge station across Tower Bridge to the Tower of London
10:15 Tube from Tower Hill to Paddington
10:45 Back at Paddington
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Jun 16th, 2014, 11:02 AM
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@janisj, last weekend, for several reasons, we needed to have a fast connection between Heathrow and London, to maximize time in London. So we chose to be near Paddington Station and use HEX

It seems no one ever thinks of the area roughly on the corner of Marble Arch and Edgware rd. Especially in summer, it's basically a playground for people from the Gulf to pass their summer there, so there are many hotels that are very discreet on the outside, and very luxurious on the inside with an insane level of service. As we found out. A short taxi ride gets you to Paddington and so to LHR. I thought "close to Paddington" meant dismal hotels, but we found a completely different world, with good food as well, if you're into Lebanese cuisine (and we are).
Heathrow to Hotel was about an hour.
menachem is offline  
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Jun 16th, 2014, 11:24 AM
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>>Heathrow to Hotel was about an hour.<<

Ah, but Heathrow to many hotels along the Piccadilly tube line (South Kens, Green Park, etc.) would also take about an hour for a teensy fraction the cost of the HEX + Cab..
janisj is online now  
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Jun 16th, 2014, 11:44 AM
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If you can break the reservation at the Sofitel at the airport, do so and come into the city immediately upon arrival. If you stay near the blue Picadilly Line you can take the underground to and from Heathrow or if stay near Paddington Station you can take the Heathrow Express back to Heathrow. (It will be too late to take the Express to Paddington.)
IMDonehere is offline  
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Jun 16th, 2014, 12:35 PM
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I agree with your husband.

Years ago we were visiting Disney Florida and changing flights at JFK and an announcer asked for volunteers to take a later flight in exchange for an upgrade. We jumped at the chance and went in to NY and to the top of the Twin Towers, it was all we had time to do, but despite the scariest taxi ride back to JFK we loved that we gave our son that opportunity.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 12:46 PM
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I have two observations:
1. if you're that close to London, how could you NOT do whatever it takes to get into the city? it's an incredibly impressive place, oozing with history.
2. The tube from Heathrow to London is very easy and convenient. Pick a hotel near the Picadilly Line and drop the Sofitel reservation. You'll enjoy a very special morning just walking around inhaling the ambience.
roundthebend is offline  
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Jun 16th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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point is, @janisj, it depends on location and you don't need to be in Bayswater/Paddington. For us it was the best option, all our other stays in London are flying to Luton and take a train to Blackfriars and then stay on Southbank. Or City and then Southbank. I avoid LHR like the plague, but sometimes it can't be helped.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 02:46 PM
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I agree with Roundthebend and others- if you get that close, you have to go. Don't view it as cutting the flight close- view it as sacrificing sleep. Get up early and/or spend the night in the city.

I would stay at Earls Court or South Kennsington on the Piccadilly line as close as humanly possible to the tube station and then you would be able to jump on the line to Westminster in the morning (6 or 7 am). You can see Big Ben, the Parlaiment building, London Eye, Thames River and Westminster Abbey (each from the outside, of course) within a few hundred yards of each other and with 30 minutes or so, walk to Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square.

It won't be the greatest tour of London ever, but, hey, most people would LOVE to spend 2 hours like that and have memories to last a lifetime with a very small sleep sacrifice.
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