Gatwick airport is located nearly 28 miles south of London and it’s well linked to the city. It is conveniently located if you’re staying in the south-western area (around Victoria station, which is where most of the hotels are), but the airport is not always the main criterium to select a flight, is it? If your low cost plane flies to and/or from Gatwick, chances are that it will be at some inconvenient time, so it’s better to be ready for the city transfer in order to avoid some last minute panic (eventually ending with a costly cab ride).
London – Gatwick connection by:
The train station is inside the airport, in the South terminal. To get to and from the North terminal there is a shuttle train.
If you want to get to London as quick as possible, cutting the airport transfer time, your best solution is Gatwick Express (www.gatwickexpress.com) high speed train that links Victoria Station in London to the airport in just half an hour. It’s more convenient to book it online as it’s cheaper and it would avoid you the queues at the vending machines at the airport. Getting a return ticket helps reducing the price even further.
One-wat ticket: £19.90 (at the desk), £17.75 (online)
Return ticket: £34.90 (at the desk), £31.05 (online)
A solution which is slower (even if with a narrow margin sometimes) but definitely cheaper, is the local train. If it stops at every station it might take up to a hour, but it also costs half the Gatwick Express. If you check the National Rail website (nationalrail.co.uk) you might find special rates, even on trains nearly as fast as the Express. The rates fluctuate according to many factors such as the season, the day of the week, the hour, and go from roughly £8 to £20 each way. Overnight trains serve Gatwick airport every half hour from St Pancras and Black Friars, slightly less frequently from Victoria and London Bridge.
To know more about the best ways to save money read the article about getting around Britain on the cheap.
If your flight is at some ridiculous time of the night (which might as well be the case if you’re flying low cost), or if value money over time (same as previous parenthetic), then you might want to opt for the bus. The national company (called, with a certain lack of imagination, National Express, www.nationalexpress.com), as well as other private companies such Terravision and Easybus, provide this service at any time of the day or the night. The price is usually between £5 and £9 each way, but EasyBus, if booked in advance, might be even cheaper. Consider though that their drop-off and pick-up point is near the West Brompton tube station.
Important: Since I’ve seen too many people getting this wrong, I need to point out that the bus terminal is Victoria Coach Station, at the junction between Buckingham Palace Road and Elizabeth Street, 5 minutes walk (10 if you’re loaded with luggage) from the tube station. If you’re getting here by taxi make sure that the cab driver is informed before you get in the car (or when you make the phone reservation) and that he’s aware of the difference: you need to go at the Coach Station, not at the tube or bus station. This is the map and post code, to avoid any misunderstanding: Victoria Coach Station, SW1W 9TP
If you are staying in a central-south-west area of London, or you’re travelling in a group of 3-4 people, the cab is an option to be seriously considered. Especially if you’re travelling late night or early morning. The wisest thing to do is to ask the reception or whoever is hosting you, for the best local taxi companies.
If you have a early morning flight and none of the options above are appealing or feasible, then the benches in the airport are your only choice left! I’ve only checked the South Terminal and it offers an area suitable for overnight stays: lounge chairs and seat that, despite not being able to provide the most comfortable sleep of your life, are better than the average. The area, next to cafe nero, is quite bright so an eye mask might help.
Anyone tried the North Terminal?