London Heathrow Airport: The UK’s Biggest and Busiest Airport
London Heathrow Airport (LHR) is one of the busiest airports in the world. Over 200,000 passengers pass through the terminals daily, and traffic on the runways is generally constant: an airplane is either landing or taking off about every 45 seconds. Consequently, LHR is extremely efficient, using the very latest in air traffic management technology and a robotic baggage handling system to maintain its precise schedule, yet layovers and delays are as common here as elsewhere. Should you have a few free hours at Heathrow Airport, you’ll find a top-notch range of shops, restaurants, and other places in which to spend them. If you’ve more than a few hours, a trip into London is well worth considering; historic Paddington Station is only 15 minutes away on the Heathrow Express.
Eat, Shop, and Relax
It’s virtually impossible to go hungry at Heathrow. Throughout the five terminals you will find many European cafes, traditional British pubs, and international chain eateries, many of which are open 24 hours. The airport also offers a few exceptionally fine restaurants, such as The Fortnum & Mason Bar and Gordon Ramsay’s Plane Food. Dining is just one of many ways to while away a layover at LHR. Every terminal is fitted with a duty-free shop and a well curated selection of luxury retailers, including some you won’t find in every other airport around the world, such as Harrods and The Harry Potter Shop. Not into retail therapy? Check out the fine art on display at the T5 Gallery, get a mani-pedi at one of the on-site spas, or simply unwind in the peaceful surrounds of a premium lounge, even if you aren’t travelling first class; day passes are available for purchase in advance or at the door.
Take a Whirlwind Tour of London
If your layover at LHR is longer than, say, six hours, you have a wonderful sightseeing opportunity on your hands. Check your bags and hop on the Heathrow Express. The trip to Paddington Station is only 15-20 minutes (depending on which terminal you start from). From Paddington, take the Tube to Westminster Station, which is just a few steps from many of the most famous sights. The Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, and, of course, Westminster Abbey are all within a short walk, and you can easily hop on a double-decker bus for a tour or a lift to one of the many splendid museums in this part of town. Another option is to book a “layover tour;” many tour operators provide transfers to and from Heathrow as well as expert guides, so you can enjoy the sights without worrying about the details of getting around.
Where to Sleep Near LHR
If you have an early flight or a late arrival at London Heathrow Airport, you’ll be happy to know that there are hotels of all styles and classes within a mile of LHR, all well connected to the terminals by the Heathrow Hoppa shuttle service. You will also find two luxurious properties right on site. The Hilton Heathrow offers polished accommodations with direct access to Terminal 4, while the Sofitel Heathrow T5, the most upscale option, additionally features a spa and a Zen garden, all within steps of Terminal 5.
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