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loves2sing Mar 13th, 2008 11:28 AM

London layover-hotel and dinner recommendations?
My husband and I are going to Greece in June. We are flying from LAX, arriving at LHR at 3pm. We donít fly out to Athens until 9pm. We will have a total of 6 hours. I have never been to London so Iíd like to hear from those familiar with the area if it is feasible to get into town and spend some time there, maybe just having a nice dinner and some place to walk around? If so, what area...and do you have any restaurant recommendations?

Also, when we leave Athens we arrive back in London at 9pm where we will spend the night because our flight back to LA doesnít leave until 11:30am the next day. Any suggestions for a hotel that is conveniently located?

AAFrequentFlyer Mar 13th, 2008 12:01 PM

It's not as much time as you think.

You will need to go through immigration and customs - hard to predict but 1 hour from the time the doors open until you get spit out of customs area would be a good guess. If you have any "serious" carry on then perhaps you should leave it at the "left luggage". It costs and it will add extra time.

Walk to, and wait for, Heathrow Express(the only logical choice with your time frame) - another 30 minutes

Train ride - 15 minutes (expensive), make sure you buy r/t as I believe it will save few BPs. (28BPs for a R/T per person or ~$60US.

So, with arrival time at the Paddington station around 5pm it leaves you ~2 hours to find a place, have dinner and walk around.

Don't forget, the HX is expensive, and especially so if it gives you 2 hours in central London. You won't have a chance to see very much. Paddington station is little out of the way for most tourist stuff.

Get back to Heathrow ~7pm, and at Heathrow no later than 7:30pm. The security can be a PITA. You should be at the gate no later than ~45 minutes before the flight.

To be honest, I would not do it if I didn't have a specific place in mind and if I didn't know that part of London. It's a safe neighborhood but not very exciting. It is within walking distance to Hyde Park but again, everything takes time.

AAFrequentFlyer Mar 13th, 2008 12:04 PM

I meant "get back to Paddington station ~7pm" The trains run every 15 minutes, :10, :25, :40 and :55.

yk Mar 13th, 2008 12:09 PM

Like AAFF said, 6 hours is not that much time in LHR for connection. You probably will be tired too by the time you land in LHR at 3pm. I suggest you just hang out at the airport. Plenty of eateries to choose from and plenty of shops too.

On your return, even though your flight back to the US leaves at 11:30am, you need to check-in by 9 the latest. I'd suggest you just book a room at an airport hotel and spend the night there. There are plenty of hotels nearby LHR. I recently stayed at the Holiday Inn M4 Jct 4 which is quite nice. I got the room for $78 all-in via Priceline.

avalon Mar 13th, 2008 12:12 PM

Just as an example, last week, it took 2 HOURS to go thru security at Gatwick. Granted that it was in the AM but I wouldn't chance it as LHR is even busier.

loves2sing Mar 13th, 2008 12:16 PM

Thank you, that's just the kind of information I was looking for. Love the details! I had a feeling we'd be at just about 2 hours for dinner, which is doable. But while it seems to be a PITA getting to dinner, sitting in the airport for all that time is also. We haven't been to London "yet" and we were hoping to get even a little taste of it. We are pretty good about navigating ourselves around a foreign city as we always do independant travel so maybe if I have it all planned out ahead of time we can manage if this is what we decide to do. We will each have one small roller bag and me with a purse.

You say the train is the only logical choice. Is the traffic so sucky that a driver who can take us to a more interesting part of town is out of the question?

AAFrequentFlyer Mar 13th, 2008 12:23 PM

Another thing to consider. If you are flying BA, you will be using the new terminal 5 which none of us had any experience with as it won't be opening for another couple of weeks or so.

Locals may chime in here and explain the transportation system to central London from the new terminal but everything will only be a guess as I'm sure there will be some growing pains. It happens to every new terminal/airport.

If you're flying a combo of AA/BA then it makes it even more difficult as you will arrive in terminal 3 and depart from terminal 5. The connection time won't allow you to leave your carry ons in either terminal, so you will have to be resigned to take it with you on your short visit to London.

loves2sing Mar 13th, 2008 12:25 PM

yk-I don't think we'll be tired, more likely antsy. We leave LA at 8:30 at night and will most likely sleep on the way over. I agree that an airport hotel is probably best for our return. But I have never had to check in 2.5 hours before a flight. Is it different in London than other airports? Even the 2 hours that most airlines recommend for international flights leave me sitting around for an hour.

loves2sing Mar 13th, 2008 12:32 PM

AA-Thanks for the terminal info, I was actually wondering about that. Yes, I am flying AA/BA combo, using advantage miles actually.

I guess I could have stuck with the LAX/JFK/LHR that got into London 3.5 hours earlier....but figured a direct flight would be easier.

AAFrequentFlyer Mar 13th, 2008 12:36 PM

Taxi, private car service is possible, but you have to realize that it will be the heaviest traffic time. Just like any other big city the traffic in London between 4-7pm is not something you want to deal with. btw, taxi will cost you ~100BPs or ~$200US for a r/t. Private car will be less but again, the traffic will be the same for both.

AAFrequentFlyer Mar 13th, 2008 12:38 PM

The 2 terminals are miles apart....

loves2sing Mar 13th, 2008 12:40 PM

Is the traffic bad on a Saturday evening? We will be arriving there June 7th.

janisj Mar 13th, 2008 12:43 PM

&quot;<i> I had a feeling we'd be at just about 2 hours for dinner, which is doable</i>&quot; AA's info does not mean you will have 2 hrs for dinner. You would (if everything goes like clock work) have 2 hours to get to someplace nice - count at least 15 minutes to queue for a taxi at Paddington and get to somewhere near the river or in the west end. Then find a place to eat and another 15-20 mins to get back to Paddington.

So you will not have 2 hours for dinner - you will realistically have about 60-75 minutes - which is not much time for all the hassle.

And don't even think of a car service/taxi - LHR is 18+ miles outside of central London. Basically, any mode of transport will take about an hour each way. Walk to the HEX + Taxi from Paddington, or walk to the Underground station and taking the tube, or a car service/taxi.

You really do not have time to have a leisurely dinner - maybe a quick bite. Do not underestimate the effects of jet lag - are you flying coach? If so, don't count on sleeping much. Bur if in First or Business you do have some chance.

LilyLace Mar 13th, 2008 12:44 PM

We are all different of course, personally with only 6 hours I would not risk the trip into London. I have had several bad experiences at Heathrow due to the strict security issues - one of which being that my plane was late arriving and since I actually did not arrive at Heathrow the full 2 hours before my connecting flight I was not allowed to board the Virgin flight to Newark - which did not leave for another 1 1/2 hours! Actually ended up spending the night in London.

Another time I missed a connection because the intermediate security line took over 2 hours.

Anyway, good luck with that!

What I can tell you is that there is a decent Holiday Inn close to Heathrow. Very easy with the hotel shuttle bus.

AAFrequentFlyer Mar 13th, 2008 01:06 PM

To summerize...

are you willing to spend all that cash for as <b>janisj</b> calls a &quot;quick bite&quot;? Chances are that unless you know of some fantastic place, that makes it worthwhile, and you know how to get there quickly, you will spend $200-$300 for pub food by the time you're done, regardless which mode of transportation you take.

The new terminal 5 plans on having some wonderful restaurants, great (expensive) shopping. Spend the money there.

If you or your husband have OW Sapphire or Emerald status you will be able to use the new BA business or first class clubs, a treat on it's own.

If the 2 of you are the energetic types, try London late at night on your return. Check into your hotel by 10-10:30, arrange a taxi, get to the city around 11-11:30pm. Get back to the hotel around 3-4am, have few hours of sleep and catch your morning flight to Los Angeles. For international flights with checked luggage you need to be checked in no later than 1 hour, but that means &quot;checked in&quot;, not standing in line. Unfortunately the security is always a hassle when flying to US as they do 1 or 2 personal interviews and of course the regular TSA type security. If flying coach I would get to LHR no later than 9:30am.

At least you won't have to worry about the taxi getting you back on time to your hotel the evening/morning before because even if something big happens on the road you will have hours before your flight home.

historytraveler Mar 13th, 2008 01:07 PM

It might just be possible,but I certainly wouldn't try it.

There are several nice hotels with reasonable restaurants at/near the airport. What about trying one of them? At least you'd have plenty of time for drinks and dinner without the worry of making your flight.

loves2sing Mar 13th, 2008 01:19 PM

I will take your advice and not try to venture out on our trip over. But I had wondered about going out at night on our way back. We ARE very active people and can handle a late night if it means its the only way for us to see a bit of London. Any suggestions of where to go? Any chance that we'd find some live music at that hour?

Lawchick Mar 13th, 2008 01:21 PM

I'd second the above suggestion - maybe Henley's restaurant at the Radisson. Or even better - check in and get some room service ;)

sandra3120 Mar 13th, 2008 01:42 PM

Dear Loves2Sing - you need to keep in mind that London is 723 square miles of city, with historical sites and restaurants all over that footprint. Just to give you an idea of its size, NYC is only 23 square miles - a drop in London's bucket. As a frequent traveler both to and through London (averaging 6 times a year), I couldn't concur more with a previous poster: two hours, even only for dinner, isn't nearly enough time, and your stated desire was to &quot;see&quot; something of London, having not been there yet. The Heathrow Express is the fastest way to get in to Central London, but it leaves you at Paddington, after spending roughly %60 pp to get there, which is on the other side of Hyde Park, so you'll need an expensive taxi ride - probably $20 - to get to some place to eat. If it were me, and I were willing to spend not only the $140 to get in to London for a fairly quick dinner but the price of a dinner in London, which will be over $100 with a glass of wine each since our dollar is in the toilet, I'd look into paying a change fee on my tickets to London or on the way back from Greece and pop for an overnight stay and at least a prayer of seeing something. The fact that you are experienced in making your way around cities you've never seen before doesn't really apply in one as large as London. You'd be much better served, assuming you don't choose to change your outbound or inbound flights, by getting a &quot;day room&quot; at one of the on site hotels, grabbing a rest and a shower and light dinner, then boarding your onward flight.

loves2sing Mar 13th, 2008 01:55 PM

Thanks sandra, I appreciate your input.

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