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Is 5.5 hours really long enough for a layover tour at LHR

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Jun 24th, 2013, 08:30 AM
  #1
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Is 5.5 hours really long enough for a layover tour at LHR

I have inquired about a layover tour for July 5, 2013 from londonblacktaxi.net. We land at 10 am and depart 3:30pm. They are suggesting a 2 or 3 hour tour of "Windsor and the castle".

I have never done anything like this and I have never been in The UK...it is very appealing to put the layover to good use but it makes me nervous...has anyone done this sort of thing? Particularly out of LHR? Does it sound reasonable? 80£ an hour for 2 pax so it ain't cheap...but cheaper than an entirely separate trip back for sure and might peak interest for a future trip...

Thoughts?? FYI, our trip is an overnight transatlantic from Miami with a final destination of Barcelona. This would be the first leg of the trip.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 08:49 AM
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If you land at 10:00 that means that you probably won't get off the plane and out to the front of the terminal for at least 30 mins. If you then depart at !5:30 for Barcelona, you should be in the airport for 13:30.

So you have around 3 hours to get to Windsor and then back and tour the castle. It's not long enough and you should remember that you've come off an overnight flight and will in all probability be tired.

I'd relax in the airport, have lunch and take it easy instead of chasing across to Windsor.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 08:51 AM
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...and I'm assuming that your luggage is checked straight through to Barca.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 09:03 AM
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I would rather go to a lounge that has day rates, have a shower then have lunch.

Here's one in Terminal 3. I haven't used this one but used to take advantage of Virgin Atlantic's arrivals lounge. Virgin's doesn't do walk-ins.

http://www.no1traveller.com/heathrow...Fe7JtAoduAoAJA
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Jun 24th, 2013, 09:13 AM
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No way would I chance it!I don't see how you could enjoy such a tour,jet lag,stress and London in/out of the airport,checking in,security etc.Good suggestion about buying a day pass to the lounge.
By the way,I always find Heathrow crazy noisy,busy so stay put and rest up for Barcelona!
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Jun 24th, 2013, 09:28 AM
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Actually, to get to the taxi you have to go through UK border controls, so 30 min. to the street is wildly optimistic - probably more like 60 or even longer, depending on which terminal you arrive at, which gate in the terminal, and whether other planes are landing simultaneously. Then of course you need to go back through security and all that jazz on the return to the airport for your Barcelona flight.

I very much like Windsor as a place to stretch legs and get some fresh air during Heathrow layovers, but the timing might be problematic. What I wouldn't do is book some tour (especially at that cost) when your availability and time might be uncertain.

Instead, I'd play it by ear. A black cab from Heathrow to Windsor will probably cost £30 (more like £20 if you don't mind waiting for a Windsor taxi) or you could negotiate a rate with a car service from the arrivals area. Twenty minutes later you're on the street opposite Windsor Castle. Have coffee or breakfast at the Windsor Royal Shopping Centre (directly in front of the castle) then walk around and take a few pictures. Then hop a cab (or even the bus if there's time) back to Heathrow. http://www.windsorroyalshopping.co.uk/

Cheaper, on your own schedule, and a great little break from the airport.

Or, if your flight is late, you're way too tired, or don't want to spend £50 or £60 on cab fare, just follow "flight connections" to your departing terminal/gate and sit comfortably readying yourselves for Barcelona and beyond.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 09:50 AM
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If your flight is late and you miss your tour they probably would not give you a refund.
I think Gardyloo has a good plan.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 09:57 AM
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I don't think so.

First of all, depending on the weather and time of day, traffic to and from LHR can be horrendous. Then factor in clearing customs, getting back in advance of the flight, and so on.

Gardy: How about taking the Tube to the nearest stop at Windsor and doing the tour?
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Jun 24th, 2013, 10:13 AM
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No tubes or (practical) trains to Windsor from LHR.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 11:13 AM
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>>How about taking the Tube to the nearest stop at Windsor and doing the tour?<<

Have you ever actually been to Windsor??? The tube doesn't go anywhere near the place.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 11:17 AM
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rattravlers: I wouldn't pre-book a tour. Too many variables - like a late arrival, or a loooooooong queue at Immigration, or a wreck on the A4 or M4, or a horrible rain storm.

W/ just 5 hours on the ground you'll really only have about 2 hours free. Which terminal are you eaving from? Some are better than others for shopping/food options. T-5 is easy to spend 2 or 3 hours. Even a Gordon Ramsey restaurant.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 07:04 PM
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Thanks for all the info; guess we have decided against the tour and will fill our extra time checking out what we can at LHR...if time allows may splurge on a massage to help relieve the jet lag and muscle tension that wonderful economy class affords!! We will save our UK touring for another time. We will be in terminal 5 and I had read about Gordon Ramsey's restaurant....we may have to check it out!
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Jun 24th, 2013, 07:50 PM
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Is 5.5 hours really long enough for a layover tour at LHR
Posted by: rattravlers on Jun 24, 13 at 11:30am
I have inquired about a layover tour for July 5, 2013 from londonblacktaxi.net. We land at 10 am and depart 3:30pm. They are suggesting a 2 or 3 hour tour of "Windsor and the castle".


Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead! I don't know if I would go to Windsor though. I had a similar connection decades ago flying from Los Angeles to Rome. After landing I cleared British passport and Customs controls, walked outside, and got in a taxi. I told the driver how much time I had and to give me a tour of London. He did and got me back to the airport on time.

I don't know if that is still feasible given airport security but more importantly London traffic at mid day Friday, but there is one way to find out. Do it. Ask a cabbie at the curb if he can give you a whiz tour of London. One reassurance, in my experience London cabbies are the most honest and civilized of any in Europe or the USA.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 10:07 PM
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>> After landing I cleared British passport and Customs controls, walked outside, and got in a taxi. I told the driver how much time I had and to give me a tour of London. He did and got me back to the airport on time. <<

If he actually took you into London and back and a bit of touring around - at least nowadays - that would cost probably £200. Just straight into to the city and back would cost £140-£150.
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Jun 25th, 2013, 01:23 AM
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If somebody decodes to have a bump on the M4 you will lose 1 to 2 hours.

It really isn't worth the risk.
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Jun 25th, 2013, 04:00 AM
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janis: Yes, I have been to Windsor, although I don't know what that has to do with knowing the location of the nearest Tube.

Gardy: My suggestion, and question, was for the purpose of getting into the city the quickest way possible, because I have had experience with traffic in and out of the airport, and I wouldn't recommend motor vehicle when on a tight schedule. Possible to take the Tube into the closest station and then a taxi to Windsor?
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Jun 25th, 2013, 04:24 AM
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Why would you take the tube and then grab a taxi rather than just grab a taxi at the airport?

Windsor is east of the airport - London is west - tubes go into London and not east to Windsor...
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Jun 25th, 2013, 05:05 AM
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>>Windsor is east of the airport - London is west - tubes go into London and not east to Windsor...<<

You meant the other way round surely?
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Jun 25th, 2013, 06:00 AM
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HAHA - YES of course, Gordon-R thank you for correcting me! Windsor is WEST of Heathrow, London is EAST and the tubes go into London
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Jun 25th, 2013, 06:35 AM
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You have time to do this and have a quality experience in 5 hours. You would be cutting it way too close and speeding through Windsor. Further, you will be visiting at a very busy time of year. There are too many variables:

1) What if your flight in is delayed?
2) What if immigration is backed up and takes an hour or more? It once took us over 45 minutes.
3) There's no predicting construction, weather or traffic accidents that may delay you.
4) Crowds and lines at Windsor could hold you up as well.

I cannot stress enough that this is not a good idea. JUST DON'T DO IT.

I've not read the thread throughout, so I apologize if I'm repeating any advice. It sounds to me like the taxi company was trying to make a sale on something that they could not reasonably deliver to your expectation.

While you could technically get there and back in the allotted time, you would not be able to see or enjoy Windsor as you should. We were in the Castle, the grounds, and the surrounding area for much of a day. Even to see just the Castle and the grounds you need a good 3 hours to do it right.

London Black Taxi may be a good company to avoid if the sale is more important than the quality of the experience.
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