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23 hour layover in London

I will be traveling to Europe in a few weeks on business and I have a layover flying into LHR at 1:00 p.m. on a Tuesday and departing the next day @ 11:45 a.m. out of LGW. There is so much information that I am torn as to where to stay and what to try and do, this is my first trip to London. I would like to see as much as possible and be able to make my connection without too much of a hassle. I will have luggage and also my husband in tow. I am thinking that I would like to stay near or close to Victoria station so that I can see the sights and be close enough in the morning to take the Gatwick Express. Does this sound feasible? Also could anyone recommend a good hotel in that area. Nothing too posh as I am only there for one night, but somewhere comfortable and clean. Also I am looking for suggestions for a restraunt with delicious food at a decent price for dinner? Thank you in advance. Looking forward to experiencing London, no matter how short a time frame I have to explore.

Posted by
2081 posts

hi, so far ive only used Victoria station as my "hub" when im in london. I like it since its somewhat a tube hub too. the tube system in london is soooooooo easy, i just love using it. Victoria can get hectic during the rush hours, but its sort of fun navigating to where you want to go thru the many travels and busines people and locals. the tube from LHR to Victoria isnt that difficult. I forgot the transfers, but pick up (p/u) a tube map when you get to the tube station at LHR. If you cant find one, other stations will have them and they are plastered in the tube stations too. MIND THE GAP! as far as (afa) lodging goes you wouldnt like the place i stay since its like a dorm room (double bed) but bathroom pod. the cost per night is usually < 100 USD too, but again, the size is a turnoff for most people. there are hotels all around the area, so try using booking.com and see what comes up. if you the "map" tap, it will show the hotels on the map. also, you can filter out what you want or dont and that includes prices. if you use your mouse cursor and click on the hotel icon, it will give you the price too. afa food goes, i ve only ate at one of the local restraurants and in my opinion (imo) it was so-so. I did find a place a couple blocks North that have "steak pie" that i want to try. most of the times, i got a pasty at one of the fast food places in the station or a sandwich and drik from the M&S in there. im sure others will give their 0.02 too. i strongly recommend you get/print a map of london and plot the things you want to do/see so that you dont spend alot of your time crossing your path to the attractions. happy trails.

Posted by
2081 posts

to add... also, if you want to see the crown jewels, i would do that first thing in the AM if possible. having the rest of the day will only give you limited time to do things. just so you know, the Gatwick Express (GE)takes about 30 minutes and you should notice the big orange sign over the tracks if you walk thru Victoria Station. also, you could walk to Parlament and Westminster Abbey (WMA) from Victoria station if you choose. happy trails.

Posted by
981 posts

I've stayed at the Luna Simone which is about a 10 minute walk from Victoria station or you can catch #24 bus from the station and it will drop you off right in front of the hotel. If you take the tube from Heathrow ( the Picadiily line) simply get off at Hammersmith, walk 10 feet or so to the other side of the platform, then get on the district line to Victoria. So easy!

Posted by
970 posts

Rebecca, you're not going to like this, but... the two of you are going to have very little time to see London. I am a firm believer in getting to LHR or LGW 3 hours before an international flight. Two hours is probably safe. But, pay attention before you leave for Gatwick to see if anything unusual is going on. The last time I flew out of Gatwick, Victoria was closed due to a security scare and road traffic in and out of Gatwick was backed up for miles due to an accident. If I hadn't allowed for the 3 hours, I would have missed my flight. Figure on taking 30-60 minutes to get through Passport Control at Heathrow on arrival, and then about an hour to get into town. Unless, of course, you take the Heathrow Express, which I certainly recommend given your time constraints. It's non-stop to Paddington, and takes 10-15 minutes. Take a cab from there to your hotel. (When time is short, trade money for time.) For instant visits, I tend to suggest taking the Tube to Westminster Station. Parliament is across the street. Westminster Abbey is across the street from Parliament (aka Palace of Westminster). You're on the north side of Westminster Bridge. You can walk across the bridge, go left, and walk along the South Bank of the Thames. If you come back the same way, you can cross the bridge, take a right, and walk through Whitehall to Trafalgar Square. All that will fill an evening. If you happen to have something specific in mind that is a must see, I'd simply focus on that and forego any other sightseeing. I can't recommend a hotel or a restaurant. But, I will say that if you want dinner to be memorable and/or good, I'd research and perhaps book ahead of time. I tend to just stop at any old place when I get hungry, and that often doesn't work.

Posted by
1164 posts

I also recommend Luna and Simone near Victoria and I've tried several of the restaurants on Rick's list of the area and liked them all. I think the one I liked best was called Grumbles. With so little time I would hop on one of the double decker tour buses near Victoria Station and get an overview. I would also recommend taking at least part of Rick's Westminster walk &/or walking by the Thames. I wouldn't recommend visits to any of the top sites like Westminster Abbey or the Tower of London simply because your time is so short. Some airlines allow you to check in for your flight at Victoria Station, look into that.

Posted by
3580 posts

You will have only a couple of afternoon hours plus the evening in London. Jetlag may feature prominently and you may need to rest from your long flight. I suggest that you plan very little besides maybe a nice dinner, then get a good night's sleep and head for the airport early in the am. It makes sense to me for you to stay near LGW for the night; visit London another time. I stayed at Castle Lodge near LGW last year when flying out of LGW. There are many places to stay in the area. Some are walking distance to the main street of the small town where Castle Lodge is located.

Posted by
623 posts

I pretty much agree with Swan. You need to be at Gatwick no later than 9 AM. You'd get the 8:15 train from Victoria to do that. http://www.gatwickexpress.com/en/your-journey/timetable/ If you want to spend the night in London, I also agree you should forget frugality as to transportation. Take the Heathrow Express to Paddington and a cab to your hotel. Unless there's a major holdup somewhere your flight lands late, airport queues, etc. you'll probably get to your hotel by 4 or 5 in the afternoon. I don't know how late they operate, but after you check into your hotel, you could buy tickets on the hop-on, hop-off double decker bus tours to get an overview of the major sights. If the weather's good you can sit on the upper level which is open-air. I don't see how you could "see the sights" otherwise in the time available so late in the day. If you want to visit a specific place you could check to see when they close on that Tuesday. I love London, and I hope you get at least a glimpse of it in between those flights. It won't be restful, though. Swan's advice is by far the most practical in terms of allowing your body to shake off jet lag and get some rest for your business trip. Unless this is on your way home, when you might not care so much about resting up! (I couldn't tell from your post.)

Posted by
4568 posts

I agree that staying near Victoria would make sense. The only hotel I've stayed at by Victoria was the Park Plaza which I got for a cheap price by bidding on priceline. Hotel was very convenient and nice, but probably a lot more expensive if you are paying rack rate. If you are staying at Victoria, I don't think the Heathrow Express will save you more than a 10 minutes over taking the tube. I'd suggest taking the tube to Hammersmith, at Hammersmith walk to the other side of the platform and switch to a District line train and take it to Victoria. You will likely get to your hotel around 3pm. After checking into your hotel, I'd suggest that you take the tube to Westminster. Exit towards the river, cross the bridge, and take a walk east along the South Bank path. You'll get great views of many iconic sights ... Parliament, the dome of St Pauls, Tower Bridge. As far as dinner, there are many choices although "decent price" can be a challenge. Do you want an atmosphere like a pub, or a good view, or a particular cuisine like Indian? You can find just about anything in London, so come back with your preferences and perhaps people can make some suggestions.

Posted by
26411 posts

As others have said, there isn't really a lot of information in the Original Post for us to get our teeth into. I'd make the assumption that the Gatwick trip the next day is a domestic intra-European one to the final destination for the meeting elsewhere in Europe. If that is the case then 2 hours at Gatwick should be enough. Are you checking luggage? Are you flying on a major or a budget airline? Majors tend to allow tighter check ins, and luggage is less of a problem. Are you taking unusual large or bulky luggage like presentation materials? That would add additional delays at both airports. Maybe you're carry on only? If the next flight is somewhere with special check in rules like Israel you might need extra time. Gatwick Express is at the far right hand side of Victoria Station. If your flight from Gatwick is at South Terminal you won't need the extra minutes getting to North Terminal. For carry on only, normal domestic European flight from South Terminal I would plan to get there at 9:45 which to me would be a 9:00 Gatwick Express. That may allow you a nice morning stroll along the Thames or around one of the Royal parks like Green Park, St James' Park or Hyde Park depending on where you stay. Or just chill in the morning and allow time for a leisurely "Full English" breakfast at your hotel with 2 fried eggs, bacon (ask for crispy if you are American), sausage, black pudding (don't ask), fried bread, stewed or fried tomato, baked beans, toast (cold) and jam or marmalade; and a cup of coffee or tea.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you everyone for the feedback. I tried to include as much information in my original post as I have read other posts that were too vague for me to ascertain what information I needed. @ Nigel, I am flying "Domestic intra European" My connection the next morning is to Barcelona. I plan on packing light and carrying on, but my husband is something of a clothes horse, so he might be lugging around a larger, bulkier bag than I. @ Laura, for dinner, I am something of a novice critic when it comes to cuisine so I am looking for a recommendation to a place that has "good eats". I would prefer that the price be moderate. I don't want to spend a few hundred pounds on dinner. Particular cuisine? I want to eat like a local. I want something good, delicious, and won't cost me my first born child. Pub atmosphere sounds idyllic as long as it is clean and good. Best of both worlds if you will. Which leads me to a new question? I just happened upon this blog called "The Londoner" and she has some excellent recommendations as to where to eat. How long does it take to get from Victoria/Westminster to Soho or the West End? Any ideas? Thanks again to everyone for their feedback. SO APPRECIATIVE!

Posted by
4568 posts

Soho is in the West End. If you look at googlemaps, Soho is roughly the area between Shaftesbury Avenue and Oxford Street. Piccadilly Circus or Leicester Square would be the tube stops that you would likely use. It is not far. Anyway, if you see something that looks interesting to you on a food blog, I'd suggest you go for it. I find most restaurants that I try in London from food blogs. I also use timeout.com, urbanspoon.com and hot-dinners.com

Posted by
2788 posts

Laura, Add another good food blog to your list: chowhound.com. Really a good one.