The Heathrow Express isn't the cheapest way to get from London's Heathrow Airport into the city, but it's the fastest and is wonderfully hassle-free.
The trip from Heathrow to Paddington station takes about 15 minutes, with trains running every 15 minutes. There's one station at Heathrow's T5 terminal for British Airways flights; another for the T1, T2 and T3 terminal trio, and from there a connection to T4.
And once you leave Heathrow it’s a straight run through to Paddington station for connecting to both regional and city underground lines.
Although you can purchase Heathrow Express tickets on board the train it’s cheaper to buy them on arrival at the airport’s
Heathrow Express ticket counter...
... or head to one of the ticket machines if there's a queu at the desk.
Note that the popular Oyster cards can't be used on the Heathrow Express.
A one-way ticket in the economy Express carriages costs £21 (A$38), or £34 (A$62) with a return ticket that's valid for three months. Each of those tickets cost an extra £5 if bought on the train.
The carriages are modern, quiet and comfortable.
And as you'd expect, each carriage has dedicated areas to store your luggage.
The Heathrow Express also includes several swish 'Business First' carriages.
These boast a slightly wider seat with more legroom, and arranged in a 1-1 layout.
But at £29 for a single trip and £52 for a return ticket, we’re hard-pressed to see the value over the short span of a 15 minute trip.
The standard carriages have ample leg room, as long as nobody is crammed in front of you.
There are also AC and USB power sockets to give your laptop, phone or tablet a quick top-up.
On the train there’s free WiFi so you can grab your email or check your hotel booking.
But before you know it, you're pulling into Paddington station where the Heathrow Express runs from platforms 6 and 7.
If you walk straight ahead you'll find the entrance to the Paddington Underground station. This covers several Tube lines including the Bakerloo, Circle, District and Hammersmith & City lines.
Alternatively, turn left after the Great Western Rail information booth and veer right up the roadway ramp – just look for the line of smokers flaking left and right of the road – onto Praed Street to catch a taxi.
Paddington also boasts several handily-located hotels including the Hotel Indigo (my favourite boutique bolt-hole in London), the Hilton and the Mercure.
If you’re just breaking a long stopover in London with a day-trip to the city, consider hopping a bus from the Praed Street stop – it's to your left, just past the Mercure Hotel and McDonalds.
I find the #7 and #23 services are most useful for heading into the very heart of the city. One tap of your Oxyter card and you're away.
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