When you arrive in London, you will probably be flying in via Heathrow Airport, the UK’s major air terminal. It’s a gigantic place which deals with flights from all over the world. It’s several miles out from central London, which means that if you’re just stopping over for a couple of days, you’ll have to deal with a lot of extra travelling if you stay in the city centre. It takes about an hour on the Underground to get from Heathrow to Central London, and you’ll likely need to take another train or bus to reach your hotel.
A taxi is faster, but costs much more, and depending on the time of day you may have to contend with rush-hour traffic. You can also save yourself some time and take the Heathrow Express train from the airport to Paddington station, right in the heart of London – but return tickets start at a cool £35.00. You’ll have to weigh up the cost of taking a taxi or the Heathrow Express against the time and effort of taking the Underground to get to your destination.
If you’re only in London for a day or so, and your next flight is also leaving from Heathrow, there’s an easy way out. Instead of travelling into the city and back out again, choose a hotel near Heathrow Airport. You can still travel into the city if you wish, and you’ll spend less of your limited time lugging suitcases around and more time exploring.
There’s also plenty to do outside the city. Just 15 minutes from Heathrow, Thorpe Park is the perfect place to spend your day if you don’t feel like trailing around museums and monuments. It’s one of the UK’s biggest theme parks and it promises an adrenaline-filled day, with some of the most thrilling rides in Europe. It’s highly recommended for teenagers, fearless young things and the young at heart – but families with younger children might do better to seek out Stonehenge instead.
Built on a lake that was once a gravel pit, Thorpe Park feels like a private island, and it loves to play up the sense of being isolated from civilisation. One of its most famous attractions is The SWARM: a terrifying rollercoaster where riders sit outside the carriage, suspended over thin air. Not only that, but some of the seats face backwards for an even scarier ride. With a post-apocalyptic theme, it’s 1.5 minutes of heart-stopping and highly memorable fun.
Also on offer is SAW: The Ride, themed around the popular series of horror movies, as well as high-octane water slides and a wealth of other rides. For the budget-conscious, it’s a good idea to book online before you arrive – single day tickets are £49.99 at the gate, but can be discounted to as low as £24.99 if you buy from the Thorpe Park website. The park is highly popular in summer, and you might have to face long waits to get on rides; however, many of the rides are closed for maintenance or because of bad weather in winter, so spring and autumn are the best times to go.
To save even more time, consider booking a hotel near Thorpe Park that’s also close to Heathrow Airport. The Park Grand London Heathrow is a 4-star hotel just a 15-minute drive from the airport, and half an hour from the park. It offers a luxurious experience for travellers of every kind, with rain showers and iPod docking stations in every room, a choice of English or continental breakfast each morning, and complimentary high-speed Internet access. You’ll be able to spend your stopover in total comfort, with memories of a unique experience to take home to your loved ones.