Once again, using the London experts of Insiders as a travel advisory board, I post the following issue;
My base operation is from London Marriott County Hall, I have two nights reserved on the backend of my trip at the LHR Renaissance. The last night is a given, because I have an early flight home and so just want to shuttle to airport. Normally I would spend $100 instead of 30,000 points, but what do the pros think, is it worth the points to save on the tube travel back and forth from Heathrow (since the final trip is with bags; for this question, the 'extra' trip is without bags)?
There are no other point nights available (after I reserved Maida Vale they were gone also), especially in the congestion area - so this is the only option for points (and cash prices are through the roof this late). I've read all the reviews (one recent one by ericinva and all the other Insider posts, including a recent review on tripadvisor by Insider zukracer so I know the Maida Vale is A) out there geographically, I'm hoping by the end of the trip, I'm a decent enough tube user to efficiently travel back into the city, and B) is an average to mediocre property with not much around the area - I can live with those constraints, because I plan on keeping bags at County Hall, hanging out in city and then checking in after an early dinner (unless someone advises getting to Maida Vale in daylight).
The next day, whether at Heathrow or Maida Vale (which as reviewers note is actually in Kilburn Park), is going to be a 'catch up' day (I will have hit all of my must sees) walking either in Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park, Regents Park or Notting Hill (ideas welcomed and appreciated including restaurants) or hang out at a market like Borough or Portobello.
That's a tough one really. I have stayed at all 3 of your target properties, basing from County Hall is definitely a great plan. For the others, its really hard to say. I like the Maida Vale property for what it is but getting there with luggage can be a pain. My last trip in Feb I hauled my stuff there and then back down to LHR Ren on my last day. One thing you need to keep in your head is that the LHR Ren or any LHR properties for that matter are not walking distance from the tube stop. I typically hop off the train at Hatton Cross and catch a bus to the hotel. Its still a little walk depending on the stop you choose from the bus, which can really bite in bad weather and luggage. Alternatively you could catch a cab from that station or take it all the way into Heathrow and get the hopper back to the hotel. While the bus from Hatton Cross requires more physical effort, its also the cheapest as the bus is free to the hotel stop(s).
The Maida Vale property has a few blocks walk from the Kilburn Park station. Its a pretty easy walk really, turn left up the hill out of the station and hang a right when you get to the light at the corner. The hotel is across the road 2-3 blocks down. There isnt much there but its also a pretty easy ride down the Bakerloo line into the city center or hop on the other main lines and get most anywhere. Its probably 10-15mins into the city center once you are on the train and perhaps 10-15mins to get on the train from the hotel. By far the shortest walk really is going to be from Westminster station over to County Hall.
Lets say you go with Maida Vale for your interim day. If you look at the tube map the "shortest" route to LHR from Maida Vale looks like Bakerloo to Paddington then on either the Circle or Hammersmith line down to Hammersmith. From there you catch the Piccadilly over to LHR. Having done that, I can tell you you will be walking a good bit, actually changing stations rather than just going up/down a set of stairs at say Piccadilly Circus. If I had to do it again, I think I'd take the Bakerloo to Piccadilly Circus then the Piccadilly over to LHR. Either way you might as well plan on an hour or two to make the move and I wouldn't think about doing it around rush hour.
In all honesty though faced with a similar situation, I think I would either extend my stay at County Hall or just go with 2 nights at the LHR Ren. The LHR Ren will require you to sort of commit to being in the city on your catch up day, there's no "running to the hotel" really with that option. The upside is you don't have to move your stuff twice the downside is that you are a solid hour from the city center and there is nothing around the LHR property really....I mean there's a McDonalds but that's it outside of the hotel within walking distance.
If you go with Maida Vale, Kish across the road has some fantastic food. There's a few other places a few blocks walk from there as well that the hotel staff can direct you towards. Otherwise what types of things do you have on your list? The "normal" spots seem to vary widely based on what folks are into. I'm sure some others will chime in here as well.
I thought this was a tough one, that's why I threw it open to the varsity. Thank you for the thoughtful response zuk, that's great stuff and it gave me confidence that I wasn't 'missing out'.
With the Marriott London County Hall quoting $600 (375 GBP), I can schlep for an hour, no sweat. I agree with your assessment and will go back to the LHR Renaissance, stopping at the Hatton Cross station and taxi-ing or bus back to the property. The Ren shows it as six tenths of a mile from Hatton Cross, which in good weather I'll walk w/o bags on my return to London day; but, of course not with bags (that's if I'm still alive after a week of hopefully looking right/left/right when crossing!).
You nailed it and helped me remove the cognitive dissonance of a decision - thanks, I needed that. I'm about all planned out. I'm ready to go.
Happy to help Have a great time, London is a great city to be a tourist in for sure.
And you'll see what I mean when you get there but that 6/10mi walk from the property, eh, it seems farther on the bus. The route is basically around the end of the airport and there's a few turns to keep an eye on, I don't suspect you could find a corrective route without some backtracking with the fencing, etc in some areas if you were to miss the turn by the rental places. The bus runs often enough you are probably safer just hopping the ride....besides you are gonna walk plenty downtown
If you are into cars/motorcycles, etc Ace Cafe is just to the north a bit from the Maida Vale stop. Can be a fun spot at times, http://www.ace-cafe-london.com/default.aspx