The Heathrow airport website endorses using the "iconic London black taxis" for travelers wanting to use taxis and greentomatocars for those wanting private hire minicabs. First, what's the difference between a taxi and a private hire minicab? The size of the vehicle? We're a family of 4 and will hopefully manage to pack "light and right" per the RS recommendations, so should fit in a taxi, I would think. Second, when I read through earlier threads of travelers asking about taxi type service, no one was recommending either the London black taxis or greentomoatocars. Is that because other companies offer cheaper prices, better service, or both?
I don't know what you mean about a greentomatocar??? New to me. I would not take a taxi into Central London. Depending on where you want to go I would either take the Heathrow Express or hire a car service such as Just Airports.
No need to bother with either! Use the tube. Cheaper and easy if you all take carry-ons. We took our kids with us many times and used the tube easily. Where are you staying in London? Many here could give you specific directions for the tube if you wish.
Super Shuttle, known widely throughout the U.S., is now operating in some European cites through arrangements they've made with local minicab services. One of them is greentomatocars in London, offering airport transfers in so-called 'green' vehicles. See: http://www.supershuttle.com/BookRidesInternationally.aspx
After long flights from Seattle I would think a taxi would be more hassle free than the tube. This is what we found after an all night flight. Just airports was great and quite reasonable L39. which would be approx. $60. Go to their website - justairports.com and fill in the information required. They were a God send for usat 7am in the morning.
What is the difference between a taxi and a private hire minicab? In a nutshell ... A taxi can be hailed from the street or from the taxi queue at Heathrow or prebooked. The standard black taxis can seat up to five. Taxi fares are metered. A minicab cannot be hailed from the street; you must book one in advance. It is often a sedan ("saloon car") or minivan ("MPV"). Rates vary. A London black taxi from the airport is usually the most expensive option - at least 50 GBP and likely more depending on traffic and where you are going in the city. A car service (like Just Airports) will offer transport at a fixed price and for less money. I usually just take the tube.
I would agree with the person who said to take the tube. A black cab will probably be able to fit your luggage for all four people, but will be very expensive. A minicab will typically be smaller, and I am not sure whether you can catch one from the airport to town (can do it the other way though). One time I took a minicab to the airport because the Picadilly line was closed that weekend, and it was fine. The tube is extremely easy, we did it two weeks ago last Sunday from Victoria station to the airport. Depending upon your plans, you can get them to add the airport transit onto your weekly transit pass (which is housed on a Oyster Card). Get Rick's book if you don't already have it, he will give you the scoop.
Thank you all for the info, very helpful. This will be our family's first international trip. Very excited about it! We've used the subways to get around Washington D.C. and Boston when we've visited there, so we're hip to the advantages of learning to use the public transit as the main method of getting around. However, as Shelley points out, we'll have been on airplanes for a long time and the idea of going directly from point A (Heathrow) to point B (our hotel) is appealing. With the tube, we'd likely need to transfer at least once and there'd be a 10 minute walk or so from the nearest tube station (Bayswater) to get to our hotel. For an individual traveler, I can see how car service might be cost prohibitive vs. the tube. For a family of 4, I think the equation comes out much closer, hearing that Just Airports may quote us a price of $60.
We are also staying near Bayswater in June with our family of 5 and we're looking at the same issues (prefer to take a transfer from Heathrow to our hotel after long night of flying). If you get a chance, I'd love to know what you decided on in getting your family of 4 from Heathrow to the Bayswater area. -Thanks!
I strongly recommend either car service or taxi if any of those 4 family members are kids. Slogging through the tube with tired, cranky children can have nasty results, some requiring significant clean up...
OTOH, if the kids are under 15 they can get a great deal on the fast and comfortable Heathrow Express, with a cab from Paddington to their hotel. No cause for whiney kids there.
Bruce, you wrote "For a family of 4, I think the equation comes out much closer, hearing that Just Airports may quote us a price of $60." I think you must mean £60, which I hope you realize at today's exchange rate is about $90. Doing the numbers, the very fast Heathrow Express (15 mins to Paddington Station) is £20 per adult, £10 per child between the ages of 5 and 15 inclusive. Then, let's guess-timate £6-£10 for a taxi to your hotel from Paddington. Heathrow Connect (30 mins to Paddington) is £9.50 per adult, £4.75 per child ages 5-15 inclusive, plus guess-timate £6-£10 for a taxi to your hotel from Paddington. Tube - Less costly but takes longer and can be exhausting and difficult with luggage after an international flight. For ease of navigating with a flock of four + luggage and starting your holiday a bit more relaxed, I would plunk down the £60 for the private transfer, and for fun balance it off a little with an inexpensive picnic lunch in Hyde Park (instead of a restaurant) on one of your days.
Thanks, Laura. I paid £60 in a black cab from County Hall (just south side of Westminster Bridge) to Heathrow, and again £60 from Heathrow to Portcullis House near Whitehall. (EDIT: Oops, there was a post by Laura below mine a minute ago saying the taxi fare was £40.)
Kids 15 and under are FREE when traveling with an adult on the Heathrow Express with the "Kids Go Free" promotion: https://www.heathrowexpress.com/kids-go-free So that brings it down to 40 GBP + taxi fare (not much if they are going to Bayswater).
BOOM! Great find, Sasha! We're, of course, assuming that 2 of Bruce's "family of 4" are kids. :)
Rose, Sorry, I deleted it right after posting ... but I said that a car service was typically around 40 GBP from LHR to central London (not a taxi). A taxi would be more.
Bayswater is in postal code W2. From Heathrow to anywhere in W2 Just Airports has a cash fare of £36 for an Estate (station wagon) and £46 for a MPV (minivan). Much cheaper than a taxi.
If the two aren't children, or if they are older, the Heathrwo Express also has a group travel deal for up to four persons traveling together, friends or family. If I recall correctly,,it brings the fare down to £12.50 pp. With a car service, wouldn't you add a tip to the driver to the published fare?
Checked the Just Airports web for an estimate. The ride from Heathrow to hotel in London/Victoria for the three of us(adults) is 36 pounds.
We have been to London five times. The first time there we took a shuttle. Unfortunately we had to drop off all the other passengers, before getting to our hotel in South Kensington. The other four times we have booked a pre-paid driver. The driver met us at Heathrow, after we picked up our luggage. Then he drove us to our hotel. Then we did the reverse to get back to Heathrow. Once we had the driver take us to the Eurostar station. It was a pre-arranged price, so we didn't have any surprises, even if we hit traffic. After our long flight from the U.S., we like having a pre-arranged car, waiting for us. It was a much shorter trip, both directions, than to have to pick up other customers at their hotels or take them to their hotels. It is worth the little extra price for the convenience. Plus the driver takes our luggage to his car. We don't have to hassle with our five pieces of luggage.
Jumping in late... If you have lots of luggage, arrange for a private hire. (They'll need to know how much luggage.) If you have manageable luggage (one per person), opt for the Heathrow Express. The Express is comfortable and the fastest way to get into the city from Heathrow. It arrives at Paddington Station, where you can catch a cab to your final destination. The Tube is the cheapest, not especially quick with its umpteen stops, and lacks places to put luggage, unlike the Express. An hour-plus Tube trip is not what I relish after flying across the Atlantic.
Bruce, I think it depends on how light you pack and how young your children are. Can they carry their own cases or will you have to help them. With the tube or even The Heathrow Express, its not so much the number of transfers you have to make but sometimes escalators you'll have to take. In which case I'd take a taxi whether it's $60 or £60. And they usually come with a commentary from the driver. Bonus! If you're taking that BA flight from here you get to LHR at a decent time of day. Fingers crossed you can sleep on the plane, you won't be over tired when you get there so you shud have plenty of time to decide how best to get into town. I'm a huge fan of the black cab. I think VS is correct in saying you can't catch a "minicab" at the airport but you can have one take you there and it will be a lot cheaper. It cost us £90 to get to Penge East from the airport buy only £60 to get back. Sometimes they will try to charge you by the number of suitcases you have..get that bit sorted before you hire him.
I'm jealous..Have a wonderful time...
Laurel, are you sure there are escalators associated with Heathrow Express? I don't recall any. A ramp and a bit of a walk at Heathrow, yes. No escalators, though. I might have forgotten something about LHR, but the only reason you'd have to use an escalator at Paddington is to get down to the Tube. I agree, though, that the amount of luggage being hauled around is critical. Anything more than an easily carried bag per person and I'd book that car. Still, I won't take the Tube in ever again.