Visiting London is an exciting adventure, not the least of which is the challenge of finding your way from one of the airports to your hotel room. Whether you fly into the city or an airport on the outskirts, deciding how to best traverse the maze of streets, bridges and tunnels with your luggage in tow can range from a convenient Heathrow Airport taxi waiting to take you and your bags directly to your destination to public transportation that gets you in the general vicinity of your hotel.
Located 20 miles (32 km) from Central London, Heathrow is London’s busiest airport. A Heathrow taxi averages £40 to £60 for a 15 to 20 minute ride from the terminal to hotels in Central London. The cheapest ways to travel into town is the London Underground, Heathrow Connect or Express railways.
The second largest airport in London, Gatwick is 28.4 miles (45.7 km) from Central London. You can take the non-stop Gatwick Express that takes 30 minutes and runs to Victoria Station every 15 minutes. A taxi ride costs about £90 and can take between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic.
The third largest airport in London, Stansted, is located 38 miles (61.15 km) northeast of London. A reputable mini-cab costs around £120 for an hour long ride to Central London. The Stansted Express provides the quickest access with a 46 minute journey to Liverpool Street Station.
Though traditionally a holiday charter airport, the Luton Airport also hosts commercial flights and is 32 miles (51 km) from Central London. It takes about 60 to 75 minutes by taxi with an average fare of £80. The First Capital Connect runs six trains an hour to five different London stations and takes between 30 to 60 minutes, depending on your final destination.
London City Airport
The smallest and closest airport to the city centre, this commuter airport is about six miles (9.5 km) from Central London. A taxi costs from £25 to £30 and takes 15 to 30 minutes to get to the heart of town or five to 10 minutes to get to destinations like Canary Wharf. The Dockland’s Light Railway runs every 10 minutes during business hours and takes 22 minutes to reach Canning town, where travellers can catch the Central Line.
London Southend Airport
Most convenient to Olympic Village, this commuter airport is serviced by the rail via a 47 minute ride. A taxi costs around £50 for the hour ride to Central London.
Southampton Airport and Birmingham Airports are located well outside of London but considered by some as an alternative to the busy Heathrow Airport.
Choosing between the conveniences of taking a Heathrow airport taxi or riding on public transportation depends on whether you are travelling with a group to split the costs, have to deal with small children or are on a strict schedule.