Heathrow International Airport - LHR:
If you are traveling from the United States into England or other parts of Europe there is a good chance you will be stopping in London's Heathrow International Airport along your way. Heathrow Airport
is huge and it's a massive hub for lots of airlines that travel throughout Europe and to America. The airport code for Heathrow is LHR, so when booking flights online use that code. Heathrow is a main gateway airport for those traveling from the US and the airport is well thought out with their new Terminal 5 helping out immensely. It's busy but manageable most of the time and all signs are clearly written in English so Americans should have little problems figuring out where they need to go. The security line moved briskly when I went through in March 2009 and the crowds were not that big. London is notorious for rain and fog so expect delays when you travel through Heathrow. I was lucky that all our flights coming and going on our trip were on time. There are ample restaurants within the airport in case you get stuck for a few hours and need to grab a meal.
The official website for Heathrow is at Heathrowairport.com
and it's well layed out. You can check on arrivals or departures right off the main page, book an airport hotel, hire a car, or get detailed information in the "terminal guide" section. The area on "flight connections" is handy if you know you'll be making a connection as you fly into and then out of Heathrow. If you have an overnight stay before your next flight or perhaps an early morning departure, hotels like the Hilton at Terminal 4 and the Sofitel at Terminal 5 are literally huge timesavers since they are right onsite and you can walk to the terminals from them. I stayed at the Hilton on my way out and had a 6:30 AM departure which was easy to get on since I was right at the airport to begin with. More and more flights that originate from the United States and are headed to Europe fly through Heathrow so if your travel plans call for international destinations you may find yourself going through Heathrow airport. For those that are heading into London, it's about a 50 minute Tube ride (cheapest) or a 15 minute ride on the Heathrow Express (most expensive). Black cabs are available right outside each terminal but they are probably not the best choice given the amount of traffic going into London from the airport and your trip may take well over an hour and be very expensive.
Heathrow Parking - Long Stay vs Short Stay:
Like all large airports, London's Heathrow has plenty of parking options and the more convenient you want the higher you'll have to pay for it. The Valet Parking is the most expensive and the cost is $50 GBP for roughly a 1 night trip. If you go with the Long Stay parking for terminals 1-3 you'll pay only about $23 GBP for the same overnight trip. Parking at LHR can add up so pick your choice wisely. The valet service can be pre-booked which is a good idea considering you don't want to have to wait for this service. Heathrow Long Stay Parking
is the best and cheapest choice for longer trips. At roughly $15.70 GBP per day you will save money and they are convenient as coach service connects all terminals and the transfers run every 10 minutes for Terminals 1, 2, and 3. For a great map of the Heathrow car parks go HERE
. The parking map shows you long and short term car parks and there are directions on the page as well. Once inside Heathrow International airport you can get around quite easily, it's getting to the airport that can be a struggle during peak hours. Give yourself plenty of time to park and catch your shuttle bus when arriving for your departure flight.
Terminals (1,2,3,4, and 5) - Map:
Heathrow airport is huge and it handles 1000's of passengers each day. There are 5 terminals at Heathrow with Terminal 5 being the newest one. We have listed PDF files to all maps of the terminals
down below so you can download them and take a look at gates, arrivals, departures, ticket sales, restaurants, baggage claim, and shopping. I recently flew into London from Amsterdam and arrived into Terminal 4 which was very convenient in terms of catching the London Underground and taking the Tube into downtown London from the airport. Each terminal has access to the Underground although getting between terminals may be a little tougher as you will need to take the airport buses or free trains. Terminals 1, 2, and 3 are within walking distance of each other but terminals 4 and 5 are farther away and require the trains or buses. The average walking time between Terminal 1 and Terminal 3 is just over 10 minutes.
Heathrow Airport Hotels:
There are lots of hotels near Heathrow and prices vary greatly. The most expensive hotels are probably the Hilton (Terminal 4) and Sofitel (Terminal 5) since they are the closest to the airport and definitely convenient. As you slowly move away from Heathrow the prices drop considerably and you should pay no more than $100/night for a good room. You can see a MAP of Heathrow hotels here
. We have a done a complete review of Heathrow Hotels here