Where to set up base for brief London visit?
May 1, 2023 8:38 AM   Subscribe

turtlegirl and I are going to hike a section of the Cotswolds in June then visit with some friends (Hereford and Devon) before heading to London a few days before our flight home. We want to get a room somewhere which will allow us to get to Heathrow (relatively) easily, BUT we also want to be able to get into the city for a few meetups with London-based friends.

We do not plan to do any London sightseeing this trip, just meet up with friends for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, drinks. It is more important to us to have an easy trip to Heathrow the morning of our flight home than be close to the center of London. Friends live in various places (High Wycombe, Wimbledon, Leyton, Walthamstow, etc) and not all of them know each other. We will work with them to find ideal meetup spots.

We want to find rooms under $200 -- or slightly more if they will mean less spent on trip to Heathrow -- and close to either a train line (Elizabeth is new to us) or a reasonable taxi fare.

Where would you suggest we make camp for these 2 nights?
posted by terrapin to Travel & Transportation around London, England (9 answers total)
I like club quarters right at st. pauls - so many amazing things just a few steps away and its reasonable. Just one thought.
posted by specialk420 at 8:41 AM on May 1

Best answer: Given that your friends live in all directions, then I think central London is easier than anything else and you can usually find hotels in your budget near Paddington Station, which would be super convenient for Heathrow. They wouldn't be amazing hotels however.
posted by plonkee at 10:39 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. My concern with central London is the price of rooms. Checking those locations for when we will be there (early July) is returning rooms well over my budget. Again I am more concerned with easy access to airport when we leave then the time it takes to get to locations in London for socialising. We will not be doing any sightseeing. We have been to London dozens of times.

Thank you!
posted by terrapin at 10:59 AM on May 1

In which case, go for Reading. It's got excellent transport links to London and Heathrow, it's large enough to have a range of hotels, but un-touristy enough for them to be reasonably priced. It's also on the same side of the country as your other destinations. I've stayed a couple of nights in the Travelodge there and it was fine, and fairly pleasant.

Maidenhead is similar but smaller. Slough is not very nice. Taplow, Twyford, and Burnham are probably too small. Langley and Iver are definitely too small and the outer west London suburbs are a bit shabby.
posted by plonkee at 11:49 AM on May 1 [2 favorites]

Best answer: We've had some suggestions for around Paddington due to the Heathrow Express, your other option for Heathrow is the Piccadilly line. Direct but slower than the express. It's about an hour from King's Cross to Heathrow, all terminals. It would put you at a major transport hub. Hotel wise, Premier Inn have started a new chain "hub by premier Inn" and there is one close to King's Cross. Cost is well within to just over $200 depending on your dates in early July. The hotel is new and in good shape. The rooms go for 'high tech'. They'd be pokey if you plan to spend any time in them but good if it's just a base to go to other places.
posted by biffa at 12:07 PM on May 1

Stay at the airport itself or stay in central London. Staying at neither of these places (e.g. outside London or half way in) is more trouble than it's worth, for a small saving.

With an early flight I would (and have) stayed at one of the hotels at (not near) Heathrow airport. The two I know of are the Hilton Garden Inn at T2 (check the location, there is another Hilton Garden Inn near the airport that you don't want) and the Sofitel at T5. From these hotels you can walk to the airport's transit links to London, and to your flight on the morning of your departure. They will stretch your budget.

Alternatively, your best option in London is one of the hundreds of hotels near Paddington Station, which is the central London station on the Heathrow side with the most direct links to Heathrow. These will likely be cheaper than the two specific hotels I mentioned at the airport.
posted by caek at 12:26 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I recently stayed at the Ibis Styles Ealing on a trip with similar constraints, and it was ideal. 30 mins from Heathrow on the Elizabeth line, and rooms typically under $100 a night with easy access to the rest of the city.
posted by MeadowlarkMaude at 1:08 PM on May 1 [1 favorite]

I would stay at a hotel at Heathrow for the night before your flight, and stay at a hotel anywhere closer in to London for the rest of your stay. Heathrow is quite a way out and the commute in/out will be a bit of a pain every day.

Less of a pain if you use the Heathrow Express, but that's not cheap - £37 each for a return. Elizabeth Line is slower but cheaper. Piccadilly Line is slower still but (I think) cheaper again.

Seconding Hub by Premier Inn for the closer-in-to-London option, so long as you don't plan to spend much time there other than sleeping. The rooms are tiny but clean, predictable and efficient.
posted by fabius at 5:28 AM on May 2

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice all. We have opted for a small boutique hotel in Paddington which was about $250/night, and across the street from the train station entrance. This will make our arrival from Devon easier (no changes!) as well as our departure for the airport via the Heathrow Express.

We had been trying to avoid Paddington because on a trip in 2007 we had a horrible experience with a hotel near the train station. TL;DR: Place was disgusting -- hair on the soap, ewwww -- and when we complained 15 mins after checking in and they accused us of having already "used the room." We had to get credit card company involved and find a new place on the spot.

I marked the one answer suggesting Ealing as a best answer too as I was already considering there -- but didn't want to lead the suggestions too much.

If anyone answering here is in London during 4-5 July, MeMail me to be invited to any unlisted meetup that may be called.

Thanks again.
posted by terrapin at 5:37 AM on May 7

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