I'll be in London for one night coming in from Cambridge the prior afternoon with a 10:15 AM flight out of Heathrow. I'm looking for a nice area with some good pubs to spend the evening. I'd like to have an easy time getting to Heathrow Terminal 3 in the morning, and I have to be there by 8 AM for an international flight.

I am considering Paddington so I can take the Heathrow Express in the morning, but I'm concerned about this 15 minute elevator transfer between the Heathrow Express 1-3 stop and Terminal 3. I want things to go as smoothly as possible.

I also don't know if there is somewhere along the Piccadilly line maybe Hammersmith or west of there that could get me to Heathrow quickly. I don't know what any of these London neighborhoods are, so I don't know if any of them are suitable to stay and visit for one night.

We won't be doing any shopping, and don't really have time for sightseeing, unless there's someplace neat we can visit in one evening.

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    Slough is good choice.. Many airlines put their crew members when having London layovers in Slough... Its close enough, you can go by bus or subway, you have restaurants and pubs I guess.. last time i was there was around 2007 I hope I am correct. Jun 1, 2012 at 1:28
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    Slough? Is awful. AVOID. Jun 1, 2012 at 15:36
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    I'd recommend someone pick Windsor over Slough any day for staying, nearby but much nicer!
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 1, 2012 at 21:27
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    "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough, it's not fit for humans now". Oct 13, 2014 at 13:48
  • Slough is the pits, but Windsor, the next town, is fine for what you're after
    – Gayot Fow
    Jun 17, 2015 at 13:15

3 Answers 3


Paddington is fine - not only that, it's even smart! You have several options from there:

  • the Heathrow Express. 15 min to the airport. They say there's that length transfer, but if you're in a hurry you'll beat that.

  • naturally transport fails. If the Express is down, sometimes the regular trains are still running overground. This only takes about 10 minutes longer, from memory (see my link at the end) and is nearly half the price.

  • The Tube! If the overground option is out, you can take the tube down to Earl's Court, switch (2 min transfer) and take the Picadilly line out to the airport.

  • Buses - there are buses to Hammersmith and buses from there out to the airport, but by now you're getting desparate...

  • Taxi - last resort as they'll be expensive, but you can get the taxi from right outside the station and they'll drop you at Terminal 3. They'll also know the fastest way - London Black Cab taxi drivers are like if Einstein studied traffic logistics. Seriously.

There are quite a few places around Paddington to stay - within minutes - from hostels to hotels. There are also pubs, a few small restaurants and some take-outs. On the Hammersmith and City line you can even get around to Westfield Mall in not too long.

Finally, I mentioned a link - two actually - TFL and National Rail. They'll tell you exactly how long it'll take - even differentiating between terminals at Heathrow, and can be configured to reduce walking time and so on.

Good luck!

  • Paddington basin is quite nice, just make the right turn out of Paddington Station and avoid the Edgeware Road. Jun 1, 2012 at 15:38

You picked the wrong half of Oxbridge to stay in!

Oxford has two buses an hour to Heathrow for virtually the whole day, and buses overnight too. The buses have wifi, powerpoints, nice seats etc. Journey time from the city centre to T5 is a little over an hour if traffic is fine, or about 90 minutes to the central bus station (for T1-T3). A couple of weeks ago, I managed to do Oxford Gloucester Green Bus Station to the BA Galleries South Lounge in T5 (including bag drop and security) in just under 80 minutes, so it can be pretty quick! Traffic today wasn't so great, so it took 1 hour 45 bus station to lounge. Still not too bad :)

If you get the bus / train / underground to T5, then you're virtually in the terminal. It's normally 2-5 minutes until you're at the departures level, just needs a little bit of walking and lifts/escalators up (departures is on the top floor). With T1, T2 and T3, all the public transport heads to a central point in the middle of the three terminals (either the central bus station, or something just under it). If you run, you can probably make the terminals in 5 minutes. At a slow walk, using the lifts and travelators, it's about 15. If you take a look at a map you'll see why! Don't worry about the transfer though, just allow time.

(T4 is somewhat of an ugly duckling these days, transport links wise. Allow yourself lots of extra time, as unless you're very lucky you'll need to change bus / tube / train to get there)

Assuming you can't be tempted to head west to "the other place", I'd suggest you look at south west London. You ought to be able to find somewhere with a direct bus link to Heathrow, that isn't too pricey, and hopefully with some nice pubs and parks around. Getting from Cambridge down that way will need a few changes across London, but at least you'll then be nearby for the early-ish start to the airport. Try looking on the TFL website for bus maps to get an idea of where to go for.

  • So I need to catch a bus by 6:30 AM then, or maybe earlier in case there's a transport problem? This seems to be way too far from Heathrow to be useful for such an early departure. Jun 2, 2012 at 3:57
  • Depends on how far in advance your airline needs you to check in. For a 10.15am BA flight out of T5, I'd probably get the 7.30am bus, or maybe even 8am if I had no luggage to check in and I didn't mind cutting it a little fine! From T3 with an airline that doesn't have a T-35 conformance limit, YMMV....
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 2, 2012 at 22:37
  • As I stated in my original question, I want to be to the airport by 8 AM. I have a 10:15 international flight, and I have never been to Heathrow. Jun 4, 2012 at 12:57
  • For your case then, probably go with the last bit of my answer then. For someone a tiny bit less time constrained / departing from T5, the rest ought to apply!
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 4, 2012 at 21:05

To go as smoothly as possible, I would book into one of the hotels close to Heathrow that has a regular bus to/from the airport. Then after spending time in central London, I would travel to Heathrow on the tube after 8pm, so you get a seat. Then get the bus to the hotel and the bus back from the hotel the next day. (The last tube is late enough to allow you to spend most of the evening in London pub if you wish.)

(Depending on the airline you may even be able to check your cases in at Heathrow the night before the flight.)

Consider buying something you can eat for breakfast from a normal shop, so you can have it once you get to Heathrow, while you are doing all the waiting about.

Or spend the afternoon and early evening in Cambridge and get a direct coach to Heathrow then a bus to a close by hotel, Cambridge pubs are as good as London pubs!

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