Hi! What are out best options to get from Heathrow to our hotel in Limehouse, east of the city? We are arriving around noon and there will be 4 adults. Time and cost are factors, of course. Also we would like to go to a musical while in London. We are limited to possibly one, maybe 2 evenings to attend. Is it better to purchase tickets ahead online or buy them the day of the show? And if we wait, what are the chances shows could be sold out? Is there any cost difference in either option? Thanks!
Re journey, cheapest is tube/DLR (Docklands Light Railway). Piccadilly line from Heathrow to Holborn, change at Holborn for Central line tube to Bank, change there for DLR to Limehouse. Journey time at noon on a weekday is approximately 75 minutes. Cost is £5.10 per adult with an Oyster, £6 if paying cash.
Taking the Heathrow Express would shave about 10 minutes off this time but cost a lot more, and there'd be just as many changes of train.
A pre-booked car service would take longer and obviously cost a fair bit more. Depends whether you're happy to handle your luggage on public transport.
Re theatre, if there's a show you really want to see then you should buy tickets ahead of time.
If you're not that bothered what you see, head for the TKTS booth in Leicester Square on the day and see what's available.
If you buy ahead (we did for Book of Mormon this summer) buy directly from the theater. You will get the best advance price. When you google it can be confusing as the ticket agents and consolidators names look official but, as an example, here is the site for Book of Mormon: https://www.bookofmormonlondon.com
If the Tube option does not work for you, then a pre-booked car (called a "minicab" in Brit-speak) will be much cheaper than just taking a black cab from Heathrow. Three minicab services often mentioned (no personal experience) are Just Airports http://www.justairports.com/, Simply Airports http://www.simplyairports.co.uk/index.aspx, and Blackberry Cars http://www.blackberrycars.com/. Note that Just Airports has a substantially lower price for cash compared to a credit card (I don't know about the other two).
Since there are four of you, be sure to book a car large enough for all of your and your luggage (the terms for car sizes are different from the ones we use in the US, but the websites are very clear about how much each size car holds).
As for seeing a musical, if you are not picky about which show you want to see, you could wait and see what's available at the half price TKTS booth. If you do have a particular show in mind, it's better to book ahead. As Alan says, be sure to Google (for instance) "Lion King London official website" to make sure you are not going to a broker's site. On the show's official website, they will always have a prominent link to buy tickets. They will be surcharges for the ticket order (like Ticketmaster in the US), but nothing like what a broker will charge!
As for the chances the show will sell out, that depends on the show. If you go to the official ticket seller for the show and look at your dates, you can see how many open seats there are; that will give you an indication.
www.theatremonkey.com carries schedules and reviews, sells tickets, even warns about poor seats in specific theatres. Live stage performances are a major part of London's tourist trade so book as far ahead as possible. Sometimes there are rush tickets at the last minute, perhaps at a discount, or perhaps through a cancellation. Or there just as likely may be nothing for a show you want. The same-day ticket booth in Leicester Square is discussed by theatremonkey. Again, what's there is there because the show has been around for a long time or hasn't been popular. Do be aware that "front-row seats" in some theatres offer a fine view of the performers' knees.
Thank you all for your help. I have checked out the websites you gave and the private cars are a good option and not pricey. We will have to discuss what show we want to see and take it from there. I appreciate your advice!
The TKTS booth at Leicester Square also sells tickets for certain shows for the the next evening so you can walk up and get tickets for a show for that same evening and the next evening as well to save you a trip. Like the others have said, if you aren't picky, you can save quite a bit of money by just going to TKTS.
Also, with 4 people and luggage, it may be more time and energy efficient to split the cost of the car service between the 4 of you. 2 transfers on the tube does not sound like fun.