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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > United Kingdom > England > London

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Travel to London

Flying to London

A huge range of airlines operate direct flights to London from around the globe. Among the airlines offering connections from other cities within the UK are British Airways, easyJet, Flybe and Ryanair. Airlines running direct flights from the USA include American Airlines, Air New Zealand, British Airways, Delta, Norwegian, United, US Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

The city is a year-round destination, with the peak period for fares between June and September. If you're looking for cheap flights to London, you can often find lower fares in mid-autumn and spring.

Flight times

From Edinburgh - 1 hour 30 minutes; New York - 7 hours; Los Angeles - 10 hours 30 minutes; Toronto - 7 hours; Sydney - 23 hours (including stopover).

Travel by road

Traffic drives on the left in the UK and drivers must be at least 17 years old. Speed limits are 113kph (70mph) on motorways, 97kph (60mph) on single-lane main roads and 48kph (30mph) in built-up areas.

Overseas driving licences and International Driving Permits are valid for up to one year. Insurance is mandatory. Overseas visitors bringing their own cars should bring registration documents and check with their insurance company as to whether a Green Card is needed.

Breakdown service, traffic updates and general motoring information are available from the AA (tel: +44 121 275 3746; www.theaa.com) and the RAC (tel: +44 844 891 3111; www.rac.co.uk).

Emergency breakdown services

AA (tel: 0800 887 766, in the UK); RAC (tel: 0800 828 282, in the UK).

Routes

The M25 encircles Greater London. The M1, M11, M20, M23, M3, M4 and M40 radiate from London to the rest of Britain.

The M1 goes north to Leeds, the M11 northeast to Cambridge and East Anglia, the M20 southeast to Folkestone (from where the A20 continues to Dover), the M23 goes south to Gatwick airport (and continues as the A23 to Brighton), the M3 southwest to Southampton, the M4 west to Heathrow airport and Bristol, and the M40 northwest to Oxford and Birmingham.

Motorists can travel by train through the Channel Tunnel from Calais, France to Folkestone in southeast England, with Eurotunnel (tel: +44 844 335 3535; www.eurotunnel.com).

Coaches

National and international services use Victoria coach station, a short walk from Victoria railway station, at 164 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1.

National Express (tel: +44 871 781 8181; www.nationalexpress.com) operates services throughout the UK, and has stops throughout London, as does Megabus (tel: +44 141 352 4444; http://uk.megabus.com).

Eurolines (tel: +44 871 781 8177; www.eurolines.co.uk) has departures to over 500 European destinations.

Time to city

From Edinburgh - 7 hours 15 minutes; Birmingham - 2 hours 50 minutes; Manchester - 4 hours 15 minutes; Cardiff - 3 hours 15 minutes.

Travel by Rail

Services

The UK's rail network has a mixed reputation, but is generally efficient, if subject to delays and cancellations.

London’s main stations are Victoria (southwest), Paddington (west), Euston and Kings Cross (north), Liverpool Street (east), Waterloo (south) and Charing Cross (central), and they connect with different regions of the country. Buy tickets at the station (from ticket desks or machines) before boarding, but for longer journeys, book online in advance for cheaper fares. Do note that London’s main stations become very crowded during rush hour (Monday to Friday 0800-0930 and 1700-1830).

Operators

Rail services in the UK are co-ordinated by a number of independent operators. Railway information is available 24 hours from National Rail Enquiries (tel: +44 3457 484 950; www.nationalrail.co.uk).

Eurostar (tel: 03432 186 168, in the UK only +44 1233 617 575; www.eurostar.com) connects London St Pancras International with Avignon, Brussels, Lille, Paris Gare du Nord and Disneyland Paris via the Channel Tunnel.

ScotRail (tel: +44 345 811 0141; www.scotrail.co.uk) runs overnight sleeper trains from Euston to Scotland’s main cities.

Journey times

From Edinburgh - 4 hours 20 minutes; Cardiff  - 2 hours 5 minutes; Manchester  - 2 hours 10 minutes; Birmingham  - 1 hour 50 minutes; Paris - 2 hours 15 minutes.

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This no-frills Asian hotel chain in the heart of Westminster is a fantastic option for those seeking value for money in the capital. The concept is simple: by stripping out costly extras, such as room service or windows, you can enjoy staying in a clean room with an ensuite bathroom for very little money. If you want extras, such as towels, toiletries, an in-room safe or a window, you simply pay for them. There are four hotels in the capital but this one in the centre is excellent if you want to be close to heart of the action.

The Soho Hotel

Rooms at this trendy hotel are sumptuously appointed in a modern, eclectic style, not forgetting flatscreen TVs, huge, ultra-comfortable beds, and sleek bathrooms kitted out in grey granite, glass and oak. Befitting a hotel nestled in the heart of London’s entertainment district, there is a swish private event space and two private screening rooms. Onsite restaurant Refuel has an attractive dinner menu, as well as serving afternoon tea and an extensive selection of breakfast dishes. 

The Dorchester

Sat beside Hyde Park, the glamorous Dorchester is a stately cavern of old-school British class. Dining includes high-end Asian restaurant China Tang and purveyors of modern British cuisine The Grill at The Dorchester, while the extensive spa in the basement is an exceptional pampering space. For all-out luxury, there’s the baroque and rococo Oliver Messel Suite, perched a-top the hotel, with a terrace offering prime views across the London rooftops. 

Rosewood London

 Rosewood London is a five-star hotel which blends English heritage with contemporary sophistication. The Edwardian Grade II-listed building has been renovated to create a luxury hotel with the ambiance of a stylish London residence. The hotel’s amenities include; a gym, a spa and a bar/lounge. The hotel also offers airport transportation and conference facilities.

Park Grand - London Lancaster Gate

The Park Grand is a boutique hotel located between Paddington and Lancaster Gate underground stations. Featuring modern guest rooms, a club lounge for executive visitors and a well-stocked bar. The hotel also offers links to Heathrow airport and major train stations.

 

Hoxton Hotel

In the heart of Hoxton, in the same premises as the popular Hoxton Grill, is this wallet savvy establishment. The Hoxton Hotel forgoes the money-making mini bar and instead has free milk and bottled water in the fridge, and sells the like of sweets and wine at reasonable prices in the lobby. Wi-Fi is also free, and guests receive a simple but tasty breakfast from coffee house chain Pret A Manger delivered to their room.