I agree with the comments about not taking the tube from Heathrow -- it takes forever. The only reason I would sometimes suggest it is if you are at a hotel near a direct stop and arrive very early in the morning from a US flight. If you'll be in London for any length of time, buy an OysterPass for transportation, which you can keep forever and just add extra money when it runs low.
The Heathrow Express is usually a better option. When you're leaving, however, especially if it's on a weekend and you feel adventuresome, call a cab and ask them to take you to Paddington to catch the Heathrow Express. Twice when I have done so the cab driver offered to take me to Heathrow for only a tiny bit more (which saved having to get out, buy a ticket and board the train).
Great advice for taxi to Paddington onto Heathrow! I have not done that but will next trip.
Likewise, I sort of enjoy taking the regular tube from Heathrow to Grovenor Marriott. On a good day, I just take it to the SE corner of Hyde Park and walk to the hotel. After a long flight, I really enjoy the walk. Sometimes I will stop by the Hard Rock and relax for awhile and then walk to the Marriott.
Keep your travel tips coming!
I have found cabbies in London to be a delight (and hope I never have to rescind my opinion). All are expert in getting around the town, finding the route that no one else seems to know, and being pleasant at the same time.
Some years back I was staying at a smallish hotel in Bayswater, courtesy of the US Embassy, and found that walking, while good for the soul, was inferior to the joys of hailing and then riding in a London cab.
Your post brought back fond memories--thanks
Yes, indeed - I found the same thing once on a trip to Oxford. A taxi ride can often be a relatively cheap tour of a city with great commentary.
I've found the same thing in Rome, first when I booked ahead with limo services but also when I waited for cabs outside FCO once I realized they had a fixed rate. Especially if you know a little Italian, they will comment on every monument you pass on the way into the city and often go into raptures when they hear you love Italy and their city.
I also had the same experience in Ghent getting from the train station to the Marriott. It's almost always (except if you inadvertently get into an unauthorized cabs) a delightful experience taking a cab in Europe compared to horrendous experiences I've had in major US cities and airports.
Completely agree about taking the Heathrow Express into Paddington - avoid the tube unless looking for that 'real' London experience right off the plane. The Express currently costs 16.50 GB Pounds each way (about $27) and gets you to Paddington in 15 blissful minutes. The train terminal is conveniently located beneath the airport terminals, accessible via moving walkway (for the most part). Look out for the tube/Express signs in the terminal buildings (the tube and Express terminals are next to each other so make sure you get the right one!)
London's tube system is great for travelling around the capital but not with suitcases in-tow. Get to your hotel first then grab the tube to visit the sights. If you can get a taxi/cab from your hotel to Heathrow for a decent price then even better - be sure to ask the concierge desk for an average price first and double check with the cab driver how much he expects to charge. Fares are off the meter but a good driver will know his fares.
Professor, I must defend NYC cab drivers, who often get a bad rap for things that I have not personally experienced. My recent time there (end of November) included many cab rides, and of course the JFK to the Marquis in midtown and back was part of that as well. In every case we found the drivers to be excellent at what they do, hones about why they are doing it, and more than willing to go out of their way to be courteous.
But London cabbies are by far the best, in my opinion.
I actually have had almost no experience of cab drivers in NYC itself. However, in 2009 I got stuck at JFK after returning from Europe when my flights to Maine were cancelled six times. Typically with my luck the AirTrain was not working or was snowed in and I had to take cabs. I waited in the authorized lines after ascertaining that the cabs would take a credit card. This is where most of my problems have occurred. I usually don't have enough dollars coming back from Europe. In one case, a cabdriver simply refused and the lady guiding people to cabs had words with him and told him to leave. On other another occasion, the driver said he would but when pressed as we were leaving the terminal for a hotel said he would not. I got dropped off at a different terminal to wait for another cab that did accept credit cards. From a JFK Marriott, I tried to get back to the airport -- same story. The front desk told me they all had to take credit cards, but when the driver arrived he said no and insisted on driving me to an ATM instead. I had no time to spare before my flight so I had to agree. So I would urge everyone out there getting a cab around JFK to make absolutely sure in advance that the driver will take your credit card. Make clear to them you don't have enough dollars.
The other bad experiences came when I had to get a cab from JFK to the Courtyard NY LaGuardia. One driver refused altogether because he said the traffic getting back to JFK would not be worth it; the second got lost despite a GPS system and the exact address.
By no means do I want to denigrate NY cab drivers -- I'm sure they have a very tough time of it navigating the city and suburbs. But I want to warn especially travelers coming in from abroad who have to rely on credit cards in flight cancellation situations to make certain the driver will accept card payment. From what I have been told by people at the airports and hotels, it's a legal requirement, but that has not been my practical experience.