Flying....flying can be great fun. Flying too much in one day can be back aching, claustrophobic, exhausting, and more. Many times, my flights from PHL to parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East are routed through Europe with layovers. Now, everyone likes a short layover, but too short and then worries about you and your luggage making the connection become real issues. I don't know everyone's definition of the perfect layover time, but mine has become six hours or greater. If I'm going to be on airplanes for 14 hours or more with a connection..... I want to break up the flights and see some of the connecting city life. I started this strategy a couple of years ago. I've been able to get out of the airport and visit Frankfort and Brussells. I'm now hooked on these quick hitting, four or five hour type explorations.
My flight to and from Abu Dhabi featured layovers at London's Heathrow Airport. My plan was to return to PHL through LHR with an arrival time of 6:40AM and the next flight to PHL scheduled for 5:00PM. That would give me about seven hours to rub elbows (or bend elbows) with our UK friends. My 5:00PM flight on British Airways was canceled ten days prior to takeoff. I took advantage and the next scheduled flight of 12:40PM the next day. NOW, we're talking. I knew the good folks on Insiders would help me maximize my experience so I reached out for their advice. 10HR 15M Layover LHR Suggestions, Please. The community came through in "flying" colors.
I focused in on sg1974 's walking tour with the assist of the legendary map making from pluto77. These two should start a business. (If they do, I'm available for cheap wages with a liberal travel budget). The route they laid out is below. I took the Heathrow/Paddington Express train from the airport. It was easy to find and a short 20 minute ride. The round trip ticket was purchased at the currency exchange in Terminal 5. Price..£34 or $59. I set up my overnight stay at the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane. The hotel is about a .9 mile walk from Paddington Station. I made the journey with both large and small roller type suitcases. The sidewalks were a little rough, so I took a cab back to the station when I left town. If you don't have large luggage, the walk to and from the hotel is great.
The Marriott Hotel Park Lane is perfectly situated for a day trip (or more) to historic London. Within 20 minutes of booking my reservation on marriott.com, I received two emails from the property. The first from Kimberly, the Guest Relations Executive. Kimberly's note was warm and welcoming with pertinent info about the hotel and the area. I responded with a couple of logistics question which Kimberly forwarded to Tommy, the Concierge. Tommy sent the exact info I needed to get from the airport to the hotel. I'll tell ya, this type of service is just great. I wished our local American Marriott Hotels took this type of focus on guest satisfaction.
The SG/Pluto Route:
Park Lane Hotel
Big Ben (and Parliament)
Westminster Abbey (only thing Pluto added)
Along St. James Park to Buckingham Palace
Green Park (and the Bomber Command Memorial)
Marlborough House Gardens
St. James Square
Park Lane Hotel
Each of these locations were wonderful. I hit Covent Square just as the lunch hour was starting and, man oh man, was that full of life and FUN. I'll pop up the pictures through Covent Gradens then add another blog post to show the rest. I started out from the hotel and walked down Regents St. where I had to move like Jaeger towards Piccadilly Circus..then onto the rest of the route.