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London East End, Stratford Bus station, safe at midnight?

Hi All,

My daughter is arriving, from Venice,at Gatwick at 9:25pm=21:25 this Friday (11/3), and is heading to Norwich/UEA. She is mid-twenties and traveling alone. She really wants to avoid spending that night in London, if possible. The usual route is via the Liverpool Street Station to catch the Greater Anglia train to Norwich, but the last train leaves there at 23:30, about two hours after touch down.

She asked me to research transportation options and I am not very optimistic that she can make the connections. Maybe there is a way?? It really depends: if the flight arrives on time, if she clears passport control quickly and if connections on the tube are easy. Is anyone familiar with arriving late at Gatwick? to LST seems to indicate it is possible but the timing is very tight. There is also a National Express Bus that leaves from Stratford Bus Station at 00:10 and the Greater Anglia train stops near there at 23:38. But is the added 8 minutes enough time? or the extra 32 beyond that to catch the bus?

So my questions are:

Is there any feasible way to get to the Greater Anglia train to Norwich at 23:30 at Liverpool Street Station or 23:38 at Stratford Train Station? Or to get Stratford Bus station before midnight?

If she heads to Stratford bus station and misses the last bus, how safe is it to hang around until the first train in the morning? There does not seem to be many hotels nearby and none that that suit her hostel-budget.

OR should she just stay the night near LST or Victoria Station?

Information and opinions appreciated!



P.S. On her original schedule she had this all worked out to spend the weekend with her old flatmates, but then she extended her trip an extra week.

Posted by
6113 posts

It is never quick getting through Gatwick, particularly at night. I would allow an hour to get through absolute minimum. She may just get the train/bus that you mention, but I wouldn't be optimistic. That assumes that the flight is on time.

She certainly doesn't want to be hanging around Stratford late at night if she is tired.

Go with Emma's suggestion or stay at a hotel at Gatwick, although booking so close to the travel date will not be cheap.

Posted by
2408 posts

Get the overnight national express coach from Gatwick - not only does it go to Norwich it goes to the UEA as well.

Posted by
3449 posts

You have gotten excellent advice from all the previous posters.
For one more suggestion, in case she doesn't want to ride the bus all night.
(I think that's an excellent idea, though.)

She could get an Oyster card at Gatwick airport when she arrives.
Take the Thameslink train from Gatwick to Blackfriars Station in London.
Stay the night at the YHA St. Paul's hostel.
See map, here. Blackfriars Station is in the lower left corner of the map.,-0.0965893,16z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x35025b2a73129eca!8m2!3d51.5130771!4d-0.1003659
She may want to print this map. She may want to get off at City Thameslink instead, one stop north of Blackfriars.
Might be an easier walk to the hostel.

Stay the night at the YHA St. Paul's.
In the morning, she can either walk or take the tube (see the Blackfriars tube station on the map).
to Liverpool Street Station (upper right corner of the map) to catch her train to Norwich.
The Circle line on the tube takes her from Blackfriars tube station to Liverpool Street tube Station.
The Circle line is the yellow line on the London tube map.

YHA St. Paul's address is 36 Carter Ln, London.
Phone:+44 345 371 9012

Price per night is from 16 pounds.
You will need to make a reservation through their website I provided.
Note that you can include breakfast for a small price when making that reservation.
This hostel is a clean, safe place for her to spend the night.
Just wanted to offer one more option.

Posted by
925 posts

I am from East Anglia but live in Missouri. I am very familiar with Liverpool Street Station and Stratford having travelled through these areas at least one/twice a year for the past 30 years. I also have a 21 year daughter in college. I understand your worries. I would highly suggest you tell her to find a hotel at Gatwick for the night and then either take the National Express bus in the morning or take the trains to Norwich. If she does not have to be in Norwich by a certain time the next day then there is no need for her to journey to Norwich in the dead of night. She could miss a connection and there is no way I would want to hang around either station in the middle of the night. Make arrangements for her to get into a hotel connected to Gatwick.

Posted by
31071 posts

As there has been a bit of crime (emma will know better than I the specifics - I only know what I read in the Evening Standard ) around Stratford Westfield and the train station there, I certainly wouldn't want to be around there late at night, and I love Stratford Westfield for shopping and eating during the day.

I really really really like the idea of St Pauls hostel. I think it would work out really well...

Good luck to her.

Posted by
437 posts

Thanks for the great and fast replies!

You have confirmed my gut feel and I will be talking to her tonight/tomorrow when she has wifi and free time. When we last spoke she wanted to gamble on the midnight bus and afaik did not have a plan in case she missed it. The information from locals and experienced people should convince her to have a feasible plan B.

I've learned so much on this forum and it is fantastic having this resource.


Posted by
1175 posts

The Travelodge at Gatwick shows single rooms available from £50 for Friday night. They are comfortable and cheerful if basic and this one is a mile from the airport and is reachable by shuttlebus from the airport. Just web search 'Travelodge Gatwick'.

A stop over at Gatwick is likely to be safest and best option I believe.

Posted by
3449 posts

I will just comment that the YHA hostels are quite nice.
Look at the photos. Clean and neat.
One doesn't have to stay in a room with other people.
They offer private rooms and family rooms.
From the YHA St. Paul's home page:
Private rooms from £35.00
Family rooms from £35.00

Another thing to tell her about the tube and train stations.
There are usually employees around to answer your questions.

I do agree with ianandjulie that the Travelodge at Gatwick could be another good option.
She could make the journey into London the next day when she might be more rested and alert.
Or take the direct bus to Norwich as mentioned by ramblin' on.

You may want to copy the link to this page and send it to her so that she can read this thread.
Good luck to her.

Posted by
925 posts

I think the Youth Hostels are comfortable and clean and are just fine to stay in but the concern is getting there late at night from Gatwick. My 21 year old daughter has travelled to England a lot and I would never have her get off a plane in London late at night and make the journey into London or to Liverpool street/Stratford on her own. There are way too many potential risks. Please have her stay at Gatwick. while the national express busses are fine to travel on (I use them regularly to get from Heathrow to Stansted). I am not so sure I would want to be on the bus late at night either. Spending a little extra time at Gatwick in order to stay safe and sound is a much better option IMO.

Posted by
437 posts

Thanks everyone.

My daughter is staying overnight in a hostel near Victoria Station in London and taking an early train Saturday.

Posted by
14030 posts

Upon arriving at Gatwick take the Thameslink to St Pancras, walk over to Argyle across from Kings Cross to one of the B&Bs. I know that area well day and night. Or, stay the YHA hostel at St Pancras on Euston, opposite of the station. There is a direct train connection to Gatwick to Victoria, likewise with Gatwick to St Pancras on Thameslink, which takes one hour.