Following a cruise this summer, our party of seven will be transferred back to Heathrow, where we plan to take several days traveling around England by train and/or rental car. Is there a facility at Heathrow where we could check most of our luggage until the day of our return flight?
A. There's a Left Luggage Desk in each terminal at Heathrow Airport where you can store your luggage for a number of hours or days. It costs £5.50 per item per 24 hours, and is operated by the Excess Baggage Company (+011 44 (0) 20 8745 4599). Their location and times are as follows: Terminal 1, 6AM to 11PM, on mezzanine floor between departures/arrivals; Terminal 2, 5:30AM to 11PM, near Lufthansa check-in; Terminal 3 departures, 6AM to 10PM, check-in Zone C opposite Turkish Airlines; Terminal 3 arrivals, 5AM to 11PM, arrivals hall near car rental desks; and Terminal 4 arrivals, 5:30AM to 11PM, arrivals hall west end.
Q. I will be traveling to Dublin, and plan on taking a side trip to London. What is the best way to find the most affordable flights from Dublin to London and back? How can I find a great hotel in London, at a great price (preferably one that's centrally located)? What would you recommend I see while in London without spending too much money?
A. You can easily fly between Dublin and London for cheap on one of the low cost carriers such Aer Lingus, bmi, and Ryanair. They have crazy cheap fares, sometimes as low as one Euro (approximately US$1.18), depending on whatever promotion they may have at the time. But even with a fare as low as a Euro, you'll end up paying $60 to $70 in taxes and fees.
The best place to find accommodations is through the London Tourism Board or the British Tourism Board (800/462-2748). Both sites have accommodation locators by price and location. If you really want to save money, try staying in hostels (also available on both sites or through organizations such as Hostelling International or the London Hostels Association, which offer rates as low as £20 to £30 per night (approximately US$35 to US$50), depending on whether you want a shared or a private room. Many hostels are centrally located, and some are even in fairly upscale neighborhoods such as Piccadilly.
One way to save money is by purchasing the London Pass, which costs from £27 for one day (approximately US$47) up to £72 for a six-day pass (approximately US$125) and includes free entry to over 50 attractions (such as the Tower of London, St Paul's Cathedral, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Tour and Exhibition, the National Portrait Gallery, Kensington Palace and more), and also includes discounts to restaurants and the theater. You can also opt for the London Pass with transportation, which ranges from £32 (US$55) to £110 (US$190) and includes travel within zones one to six (zone six covers the area from Central London to the outer suburbs). For something less pricey, you can always take a guided tour with The Original London Walks. For £5.50 (approximately US$10), you'll be taken on a guided walking tour of the city. These walks have different themes on different days, such as Shakespeare's London, Darkest Victorian London, London's Secret Village, The Along the Thames Pub Walk, and Ghosts of the West End. If you plan on taking several of these walking tours, get the Discount Walkabout Card for £1 extra, which will give you a £1 discount on every other walking tour after the first one. It's valid for one month. The tours typically last about two hours.
Q. I am planning a trip to Sicily and the best air fare I can find is to fly into London Heathrow and from London Stansted to Sicily. How do I get from Heathrow to Stansted?
A. You have two options: bus or train. The most direct method is the National Express bus between Heathrow and Stansted. This service runs two to three times an hour. The trip will take approximately 90 minutes and round-trip fares start from 26 pounds. Reservations are available on the Web site.
If you have a long lay over (say 6 hours or more) between connecting flights, then you might want to take the train through London and see some sights. You'll first have to take either the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station in London, then transfer to Liverpool Street Station for the Stansted Express. The Heathrow Express takes about 15 minutes and the Stansted Express takes about 45 minutes. You can take a cab or the tube between Paddington and Liverpool Street Station, from which the Stansted train departs. You can find more information or make a reservation at http://www.heathrowexpress.com/ and http://www.stanstedexpress.com/.
Q. We were successful in using frequent flyer miles to reach Croatia in August; however, the trip involves a long connection layover at London Heathrow. We will arrive at 9:55PM on United and depart the next morning on Lufthansa at 7:15AM. If we figure on a little time upon arrival for baggage and customs, and then time to check in for the morning flight, that doesn't leave a lot of room for getting a little rest for the night. Any suggestions?
A. I think I'd stay in a hotel rather than sleeping on a row of airport chairs. There are several hotels near Heathrow Airport which would serve your needs. The closest one is Hilton London Heathrow Airport (800/445-8667), with direct access via a covered walkway from Terminal 4, and will probably run you about $170, but you should be able to get a cheaper rate through hotel booking sites.
A cheaper option is Hotel Ibis Heathrow (+011 44 870 2407060), a budget choice located one mile from Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3. You can catch the Hoppa Bus # 6, which runs every 15 to 20 minutes to and from the hotel. The bus operates between 5:30AM and 11:30PM, and costs about $5.50 each way. The hotel will cost you about $70 before taxes and fees. To get between Terminal 4 and the other three terminals, just take the Heathrow Express train, which is free between terminals.
Those two hotels are the closest to the airport, but you can check www.heathrow-airport-guide.co.uk for a list of other hotels in the surrounding area.