OK so maybe that title is a bit exaggerated. Of course I could live without these things, just like I could also technically live...
I just got back from a trip to London where I stayed five nights at the newer Aloft hotel that’s connected to the London ExCel Center. I’ll describe the hotel later in the post, but first I wanted to help anyone who’s looking for how to get to this hotel from Heathrow.
You have a long trip ahead. Heathrow is on the far west side of London, and the Aloft is on the far East side. The hotel is attached to a DLR (Docklands Light Rail) station though, so once you finally do get off the train you’re not far from your room. I did not take a cab, and at breakfast I heard a person talking about what a nightmare her cab ride was the night before. She said it took nearly two hours to get to the hotel, and I can only imagine what that cost.
So I recommend the trains. It will take you about 60-90 minutes and cost around £24 total. Here’s how to get there: From Heathrow, take the amazing London Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station (only 15 minutes!). If you buy a round-trip ticket it will cost you about £17 each way. When you get to Paddington, buy an Oyster Card. I can’t emphasize this enough. Yes they will charge you a £5 deposit but it’s worth it, and you can turn it in at any station to get your deposit back on your way home.
Once you have your Oyster Card, take the Circle (yellow) Undergound line to Tower Hill. This can be confusing as there are two Circle trains that come through Paddington… you want the one that is in the same station as the Hammersmith & City (pink) line. Here is a link to a Tube map.
When you get to Tower Hill, you’ll actually have to exit the Tube station and walk across the street to the DLR station. It’s pretty close but there are some steps involved, so consider that if you’re hauling a lot of luggage. (I have an alternate route below if you don’t want to have to go out on the street). When you exit the Tube station you should see signs directing you to the DLR. Stay to the left and cross one street and you should see the DLR Tower Gateway Station sign. You’re almost there!
Take the DLR train that goes to Beckton. You’re going to get off at the Prince Regent Station. Once you exit the train, walk up the stairs and go to the right. You will see the Aloft Hotel directly in front of you. Walk around to the left of the ExCel building entrance and you’ll see the hotel restaurant called FEDE. Just past the restaurant on the left is a revolving door into the hotel. You made it! And you probably saved around £100 by not taking a cab.
Alternate Route: If you don’t want to have to go out on the street at the Tower Hill station, here is an alternate route. It takes a little longer as it involves one extra transfer. You’ll still take the Heathrow Express to Paddington. But this time you’ll take the Bakerloo Line (brown) East to Baker Street. There you’ll transfer to the Jubilee line (grey) to Canning Town. Have a seat on that train… you’re going to be on it a while. Once you get to Canning Town you’ll transfer to the DLR that goes to Beckton. You’ll hop off at Prince Regent, which is only three stations away. Then follow the walking directions in the previous paragraph.
I hope that helps! It’s a somewhat tedious journey but I still think it’s better than a cab. And the hotel’s website only lists a cab as transportation options from Heathrow.
As for the hotel, it’s a standard Aloft. If you’ve stayed at any Aloft hotels in the States you’ll find it very familiar. The nice thing is the rooms are very large by European standards which is probably why they had to build it so far East. There is NOTHING within walking distance, so the DLR station will be your lifeline to London. The easiest place to go for shopping and dining is Canary Wharf, which is less than 10 minutes away. I found the easiest way to get there is to hop on the DLR and then transfer to the Jubilee Line at the Canning Town station. The Canary Wharf station is right in the middle of a huge shopping mall.
When I was ready to head to Central London, I took the DLR to Canning Town and then transferred to the Jubilee Line. The Jubilee Line goes to London Bridge, Waterloo and Westminster, any of which will put you right in the middle of all the action in less than 20 minutes.
Do you have any suggestions for other routes, or any taxi cab experiences? If so please leave a comment below!