We will be travelling to Heathrow in June, from Stratford Upon Avon, via Paddington. We need a hotel for the night, due to a fairly early flight out. I know there are many options, including the tube and Heathrow Express from Paddington. But how will we find/choose our hotel, for easy transport to the airport in the morning? Taxi? Am I overthinking this?
Most of the hotels at Heathrow are situated on Bath Road which runs adjacent to the airport perimeter and are served by a constant stream of shuttle buses. You can take a taxi by all means but the buses usually service every hotel about every ten minutes. There are a couple of hotels directly attached to the airport, Premier Inn at Terminal 4 and the Sofitel at Terminal 5. The Premier Inn offers good rates for the location and is basic but perfectly adequate, clean and comfortable. The Sofitel is high end, very nice but more expensive. We often stay at the Sofitel mainly for convenience but also because it makes for an enjoyable start to our holiday.
From Paddington, the Heathrow Express is definitely the fastest and simplest way to LHR. Walk-up tickets are very expensive, but you can pre-order tickets several months ahead and print them out at home. Such an advance purchase commits you to a date, but not a specific train, so you don't have to worry about your train from Stratford being late or any station delays as long as you're going out to the airport the same day.
Here's a map showing the transportation lines connecting the LHR terminals and various hotels. Most of the hotels are north of the terminals, but a Sofitel is connected to Terminal 5 and a Hilton to Terminal 4 (with prices reflecting this convenience). Find out which terminal your flight leaves from, see what hotels are near it that fit your budget, and see how to get between the hotel and the terminal you need. The hotels' websites should have information about how to get to and from the airport. A taxi would be one choice but probably unnecessary.
I stayed in the Terminal 5 Sofitel before a morning flight from there, and it couldn't have been more convenient. A non-refundable advance purchase got me a relatively inexpensive room (relative to what Sofitels normally charge, which is a lot). In the morning I just walked into the terminal and checked into my flight.
EDIT -- The LHR map and Google Earth both show a Hilton attached to Terminal 4, but JC may be right about the Premier Inn. I'll defer to him since he lives over there!
I am a big fan of the Premier Inn T4, which is about a 15-minute walk through an enclosed walkway from Terminal 4. It's relatively new and I guess tends to have excess capacity, because every time I have checked, I have found single rates (which I suspect are the same as double rates) way, way under $100 US. The flexible rate is refundable up until 1 PM on the day of arrival. There is easy transportation between terminals, but of course you must add time for that. I like not having to worry about whether a hotel shuttle will be there when I need it, and I like not having to pay for a taxi. Most of all, I like not paying typical airport-hotel rates.
You can book on the Premier Inn website, but as of a couple of days ago it was still altering arrival times, a problem reported to the company many months ago. So you'd do better to use the Premier Inn app. If that's not practical, be very careful on the corporate website. I've found I need to get to the webpage of the specific hotel I'm booking, then using the "Change search" option to re-enter the arrival date I really want. Monitor the date as you move through the reservation process to be sure it sticks.
I just checked early June and found double rates of 50 pounds on June 2 and 67 pounds on June 3. You can save quite a bit if you make a non-refundable reservation, but I never do that when I'm booking more than a few days ahead.
Thank you all so much for the info! Indeed, we will be able to manage quite well. So impressed at everyone's knowledge!
We've stayed at many of the Heathrow hotels and our favorite by far is the Travelodge Heathrow Central, which of course is not central. It's on Bath Road and serviced by the Hoppa bus which starts operating at 0430 for early flights. We like it because the area has pubs, cafes, pizza, and the marvelous Polish deli. Many other hotels are not anywhere near places to eat or drink and you either have to return to Heathrow or eat the foods at the hotels prepared by microwave chefs. Yuk. We get on their website and wait for the sales sometimes getting a double room for around 40GBP. We sometimes stay later in the city and take the Heathrow Express or the tube to the airport after a last night dinner, but we never miss that Polish deli. Good luck.