There are a few main ways to get from Heathrow to London. Factors to consider when planning your journey include the following:
- How many people are you? The more people you are, the more you may want to consider a mini-cab (more about this later) or the tube to save on costs.
- How much luggage do you have? Depending on where you are going, there could be a lot of stairs to tackle in the tube. You may not want to do this with luggage and thus would be better suited in a mini cab or black cab.
- What sort of time pressure are you under? The less time you have, the more you may want to consider Heathrow Express.
- Where are you going? Some stops on the tube are ridiculously convenient. So if your hotel is at Earls Court, for example, you may just want to take the tube.
- How price sensitive are you? If you are not price sensitive at all, you may just want to hop in black cab at the airport. However, my personal first preference is still Heathrow Express because it’s a little faster and there’s less risk of traffic.
In order of my personal preference, here are my recommendations:
As of this writing (13-Jan-2015), a round-trip ticket on Heathrow Express costs £35, or £17.50 each way. There are also deals for two or three adults traveling together, and kids travel free with each paying adult. You will often find Heathrow Express representatives selling tickets after you leave the immigration hall. I like to buy them here because it’s convenient, but it is really up to you. Heathrow Express trains depart every 15 minutes and take about 15 to 20 minutes from Heathrow to Paddington Station. From there, you can take a taxi to your next destination, which I find particularly convenient to to do early in the morning. At rush hour, you might want to consider taking the tube, but again be careful of the amount of luggage you have and the number of steps you might have to conquer.
Taking the tube from Heathrow to London is amazingly convenient…except for the stairs. On some routes, you may be able to swing step free (Heathrow to Earls Court, for example), but on other routes, you are out of luck and will find yourself schlepping your bags up and down many staircases. Transport for London has created a handy map that shows you which stations are step-free. As of this writing, a single fare from Heathrow to central London is £5.70. However, if you are planning on staying in London for a few days and using the tube frequently, you should purchase an Oyster card or use your contactless payment card directly, if you have one. (It’s not clear to me yet if U.S. credit/debit cards allow for contactless payment.)
3. Mini cab
If you have booked a hotel in London, e-mail or call your hotel and ask them for the number of their local minicab company. Sometimes you can get amazing rates in minicabs — like £35 to £45 quid. With two people, this can cheaper than Heathrow Express. Or the same price! It also means that you will have someone to greet you when your arrive at Heathrow and they may even help you with your luggage. Plus, there’s door-to-door service. Make sure you confirm the rate in advance and then again on the day your driver picks you up. The downside to this option is sitting in traffic, but once you get into town, it is kinda nice to ride down Embankment and see the Thames.
4. Black cab
Although I love black cabs and would heartily recommend them — the drivers are lovely and know where they are going and the cars are spacious — the downside is cost. From Heathrow to Central London can cost you around £80. I use black cabs from Heathrow if I have a lot of luggage and want door-to-door service. I also use black cabs to get to and from Paddington if I am taking Heathrow Express. Lastly, I will use black cabs TO Heathrow if I want to make sure I have a cab booked in advance at a certain time, particularly early in the morning like 5 am.
I hope you find that helpful!