I have already stressed the importance of your accommodation’s location on short trips. On this post, I’m diving into what I call the Easy Three:
Easy getting in, easy getting out
Easy getting around
Large cities like London will have particularly convenient places to sleep in. In relatively smaller capitals, like Vienna or Budapest, you can even manage to do most of your sightseeing on foot if you choose your base well. In sum, it’s very much possible to keep transport to a minimum and enjoy whichever city in the way only walking around allows you to. Just pay attention to the Easy Three.
Showing how this works in practice, I’ll go over two areas in London and analyze if they fulfill the Easy Three criteria, based on which airport you land. Remember, it’s not about necessarily staying near famous landmarks. It’s imperative that it’s easy (and fast) to reach and leave that location too, from both the landmarks and airports.
LONDON HEATHROW OR GATWICK
In general, whether you are coming from Heathrow or Gatwick, the area around South Kensington and Earl’s Court is very convenient. It is also my top recommendation due to the surroundings and overall variety of what you can reach by foot.
Choose a hotel as near as possible to the tube stations of South Kensington, Gloucester Road or Earl’s Court, in this order. Those stations are served by the Piccadilly and District lines. The first two also by the Circle line (see also ‘Getting Around London‘).
Getting In/Out from Heathrow:
- direct underground connection with the Piccadilly line (economical option);
- Heathrow Express to Paddington and 4-5 stops on the District or Circle lines (fastest).
Getting In/Out from Gatwick:
- Gatwich Express or Southern train to Victoria and 2-4 stops on the District or Circle lines (economical option);
- few kilometers by taxi, around £10-20 (most comfortable).
- on foot: Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, London Oratory, Royal Abert Hall, Hyde Park, and bit further, Harrods.
- District (green) and Circle (yellow) lines: Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, London Eye, Tower of London, St. Jame’s Park, etc;
- Piccadilly (blue) line: Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, British Museum, etc.
These are the attractions directly accessible. But those lines are particularly well-connected and you’ll have easy access to virtually any point of interest in the entire city from there.
If you land on Heathrow, you have the option of hopping on a (real) express train to central London, Paddington. It’s always my choice because even though it’s relatively expensive for the distance, it’s still cheaper (and so much faster) than the Gatwick Express, for example. Buy your Heathrow Express tickets online in advance [here] and you’ll save significantly.
Paddington is full of hotels and b&b’s and prices are very reasonable. It’s definitely not as charming as South Kensington but it’s super convenient and well connected too.
- Heathrow Express to Paddington and that’s it. We are talking of a total journey time of 15-21 minutes, depending on which terminal you start;
- underground: Piccadilly (blue) line until Earl’s Court station, change to District (green) line for 4 stops until Paddington (economical option).
- on foot: Hyde Park, and a bit further, Marble Arch, Oxford St., Sherlock Holmes Museum.
- Bakerloo (brown) line: only 5 stops to Oxford Circus, one further to Piccadilly Circus, one further to Charing Cross (Trafalgar Square), two further to Waterloo (Thames, London Eye, London Aquarium, South Bank, Westminster Bridge).
- District (green) and Circle (yellow) lines: Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Bridge, London Eye, Tower of London, St. Jame’s Park, etc;
- Hammersmith & City line (pink): King’s Cross, the Eurostar terminal.
These are the attractions directly accessible. But with 4 tube lines at your doorstep, you’ll have easy access to virtually any point of interest in the entire city from here too.
If you land on Gatwick, you’ll likely be getting the Gatwick Express into the city center and will arrive at Victoria. This area is nice too, you can do some good points of interest on foot. But my issue is that when you need to take the subway, chances are high that you’ll need to change lines too much. You have access to the District (green) and Circle (yellow) lines, but that’s pretty much it. Victoria (light blue) line doesn’t take you directly to any important spots beyond Oxford Circus.
In comparison to South Kensington/Earl’s Court and Paddington, it’s difficult to justify staying around Victoria, especially considering the higher prices. In conclusion, here it’s easy to get in and out; but not (as easy as it could be) to get around. So it fails the “Easy Three” test.
Remember: when choosing where to stay, it will save you much time if it’s EASY EASY EASY! Easy getting in, easy getting out, easy getting around.
Never forget that your most precious asset is time, so take the most advantage instead of wasting it. Over time, this will become second nature to you. 🙂