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Free day near Heathrow, must avoid city center, ideas?

Later this month, my husband will be in the U.K. as part of a longer business trip with multiple stops. He arrives at Heathrow and will be staying at a hotel near the airport for the first few days. He arrives late on a Saturday and has a free day on Sunday where he can be a tourist. The catch is that his company restricts him from visiting the city center on this trip. Does any one have suggestions on how to spend one day in January with a base near Heathrow without going into the city center? He has never been to the U.K. but enjoys new places and is comfortable using public transportation. Any recommendations for a brewery/pub with locally produced beers would also be appreciated.

Posted by
2785 posts

Windsor is a 15 minute taxi ride from Heathrow. He could tour the castle, walk to Eton and walk to Windsor Great Park. Several good pubs there where he could get a nice meal.

Posted by
205 posts

The catch is that his company restricts him from visiting the city center on this trip.

Is he fitted with some sort of tracking device? If not I suggest he does what he likes.

Posted by
239 posts

Hampton Court isn't too far. Some decent pubs around the river there too.

Posted by
8293 posts

I’m with melsmith (above) on this. He should go where he wants on his free day. I certainly won’t report him.

Posted by
11497 posts

How can an employer dictate what you do on your time?

Posted by
6670 posts

Windsor would be a great choice for an easy day from the airport. There are frequent buses, or he could take a taxi.

Hampton Court also a good choice, about an hour by bus from Heathrow. See rome2rio for route planning advice for either of these trips.

Posted by
487 posts

Thanks for the ideas everyone. I don't have a more exact definition for city center, that is just what I was told.

No, he won't have a tracking device and chances are no one would know where he went, but it is only one day and he does not feel that breaking that "rule" is worth risking his job. He works for a major employer and certain things are taken very seriously. If it was a personal vacation there would be no restrictions.

Posted by
6808 posts

Another vote for Windsor. It’s a short commute from the airport and would be easy to see in a day. Hampton Court is nice but I think Windsor has more to offer to occupy more of your free day. Other than the palace at Hampton Court, there’s little else to do there.

Posted by
1332 posts

I'll have to admit that is one of the oddest stipulations I've ever seen for a business trip. Either someone at the company is extremely paranoid from watching too much cable news or else a previous visitor billed the company for an extremely high taxi ride as it certainly isn't cheap to travel to or from Heathrow by cab.

The good thing is that Windsor is perfectly fine for a day. I'd also assume Greenwich wouldn't be considered city centre so that would be a further, but extremely pleasant outing for a day.

Posted by
11497 posts

Must be a really good (?) job to let the employer dictate what/where you can go/do on your own time.

Either the employer is begging for a civil rights lawsuit or there are other pertinent details that are in play that have not been disclosed.

Posted by
2252 posts

"Either the employer is begging for a civil rights lawsuit or there are other pertinent details that are in play that have not been disclosed.".

That's certainly very possible, Joe!

Posted by
1221 posts

Kew Gardens? The conservatories are nice even if the weather is less than optimal- the Princess of Wales one is huge, warm, and covers many different ecologies. And you can get there from LHR with only a slightly convoluted Tube route that only requires you to go to the border of the Zone 2/3 fare band. (Note that the blue Picadilly line train doesn't usually stop at Turnham Green station on weekends so you have to do a bit of bouncing around on the branches of the green District line to get turned toward Richmond and Kew Gardens)

If he's a fan of tennis, the Wimbledon tour and museum complex is also sufficiently in the suburban boonies to keep his corporate overlords happy, though I'd look at a bus, cab, or non-Tube train option to keep from having to come close to the city center and changing trains at the Earl's Court tube station.

I'm assuming the 'no city center' is a nervous insurance company the employer uses and that kind of thing is what it is.

Posted by
33324 posts

If the company is as paranoid as they sound, they will know that they don't need a tracker strapped to his ankle. All they have to do is download his phone.

Posted by
487 posts

Thank you to everyone who answered the question gave me ideas to look into further.

Posted by
7050 posts

I think some posters here are carrying this a bit too far....there are Federal, military, diplomatic, and intelligence jobs in the US where one's movement on a business trip can be restricted, even on a "free day" because the employee is still there at the behest of the employer (so they are responsible for them for the whole duration of the trip). The point is that no one knows the OP's husband's position, employer, or the reasoning (and the OP doesn't need to explain it), so why speculate?

Posted by
9869 posts

Emma, ditto. It is fascinating-- it really makes me want to ask if anyone else has an employer or is an employer who instates these kinds of prohibitions -- and could explain the reasoning behind it.

Mankind is curious! (By which I mean, we are curious to know all sorts of things!)

Posted by
6808 posts

Nicely stated Agnes. Not to mention defense contractors of those involved in certain technology fields or other professions.

Posted by
2252 posts

Thanks, Jaime and Agnes, you both chose a much better way to say that than I did! My husband was often one of those so restricted. And I also think Windsor would be perfect. It's a pretty little town with Eton just across the bridge...oh, yes...and then there's that Castle.

Posted by
619 posts

A friend of mine was in the Royal Air Force, and was unable to travel independently behind the iron curtain during the 70s and 80s. My brother-in-law had a senior post in an oil company, and was told not to tavel to Toronto during the SARS outbreak. Those restrictions I can understand.

But the centre of London is forbidden, while the rest of the U.K. is OK? That sounds like serious paranoia.

Posted by
487 posts

Thanks Agnes for a rational response. I am not giving many details, partly because the reason why is irrelevant to my actual question, which is what are other things to do/places to go? But, I also don't have specifics on why this rule is in effect.

I do know this restriction does not just apply to the U.K. and London, it is applied across the board to business related travel within this company. If your business does not take you into the city center they don't want you going there. This is a large corporation and I doubt my husband knows the exact reasons it was implemented. But their money, their rules. Not so different from parents who agree to pay for a car/gas/insurance for their kid, but putting some restrictions on how/where it is used.

Posted by
11497 posts

I sure hope someone from HR or Corp travel gives him a map with well defined lines of their 'city center' that is off limits.

With an area in excess of 600 square miles, just what is 'city center', could have a definition that varies from one individual to the next.

Posted by
1221 posts

In the absence of explicit direction from the corporate overlords, I'd say a reasonable approach would to call the Zone 1 Tube map area as the 'city center' for London and not visit or transit through that area.

Posted by
2560 posts

so much for the land of the free and the home of the brave.....

Posted by
4012 posts

The GWR (Great Western Railway) goes to Heathrow. The locals could be more specific about specific trains but would your husband consider taking the train to Oxford to spend the day? It will involve changing trains but what a wonderful city to visit as it is a great walking city. The pubs are outstanding. Blackwells book shop is not to be missed especially as it is open on Sundays. Just an idea.

The GWR (Great Western Railway) goes to Heathrow.

No, it doesn’t. The only train service that goes to Heathrow is the overpriced Heathrow Express, and that only goes directly to Paddington Station. You can then get the train to Oxford from Paddington, but Paddington is - depending on your definition I guess - central London and therefore banned.

You can get a coach from Heathrow to Reading station, where I think you can get a train to Oxford and other points west - but not directly from Heathrow.

Posted by
4012 posts

The only train service that goes to Heathrow is the overpriced
Heathrow Express, and that only goes directly to Paddington Station.

Nope. The overpriced Heathrow Express isn't the only train service. The Heathrow Connect, which I've taken many times, also goes to Heathrow and one could take it to Hayes & Harlington, change trains for Oxford perhaps needing also to change trains in Slough for Oxford. This routing helps the OP's husband avoid Central London.

The Heathrow Connect uses the same tracks as the Heathrow Express.

Not only is Heathrow Connect a highly convenient way to get between
central London and Heathrow Airport, its one of the least expensive.
For example, a single fare from London Paddington is just £10.30, and
a day return is only £20.70.

Tickets can be purchased through Great Western Railway online and from
ticket offices and ticket machines at all Heathrow Connect stations.

https://www.heathrowconnect.com/about-us/our-company

Posted by
33324 posts

But based on the answer from Jen C, he's banned from all city centres. I would thought that would let out Oxford, Reading and Windsor which by American standards will all qualify as cities so off-limits and banned.

I bet this has something to do with US gun violence. They want him kept "safe" so he isn't allowed where a lot of the US violence and robberies occur - in the middle of the town but less in the suburbs. They probably don't realise or care that in Europe the violence level is very low, and there are relatively many fewer incidents in the tourist parts of towns here.

Posted by
1 posts

The "gun violence" crack is below silly. There is not even concern in the US about "gun violence" in any tourist area. OP's husband more likely than not is in some security related field or else they have a corporate policy which precludes them from being in city centers in major cities where unpleasant folks may mow them down with trucks or worse. In any event, I add my vote for Windsor.