We’ve got a 20-hour layover at Heathrow in spring 2015. We’ll be landing at 7 p.m. London time, and we fly out the next day at 3 p.m. We’ll be staying overnight and would love a good rest and possibly to see Windsor Castle. Do you think there would be time for this? If not, what would you recommend near Heathrow for an enjoyable stay?
There are several historic manor-house hotels near Heathrow. I’d recommend you dine and sleep at one of them, then the next morning head to Windsor Castle—you might even stop to see Eton College and the Magna Carta Memorial as well—en route back to Heathrow. That’s my kind of airport layover!
The expert on London Heathrow layovers is Jonathan Epstein of Celebrated Experiences, one of my Trusted Travel Experts for the United Kingdom. Jonathan lays out these options at various price points (with all rates inclusive of breakfast and taxes):
Cliveden House: This estate dating from the 1600s is the former home of Lady Astor. You’ll feel like you’re sleeping in Downton Abbey. It’s got 376 acres of extraordinary formal gardens and woodlands, including a maze. If you book through Jonathan, you get a guaranteed upgrade at time of booking, as well as an historic tour of the house. Rates start at about $625/night.
Pennyhill Park. This has a world-class spa and a two-Michelin-star restaurant, Latymer, that’s considered one of the best dining experiences in the U.K. Rooms are large and full of character. Rates start at about $450/night.
Great Fosters. This country house dating from 1550 was one of Elizabeth I’s hunting lodges and comes with exceptional Tudor gardens. Rates start at about $300/night, but if you book one of Jonathan’s preferred rooms in the Main House for about $400/night, you get a complimentary transfer to Heathrow.
The Runnymede-on-Thames. This is a contemporary riverfront four-star hotel with a spa and both an outdoor and indoor pool. You can even rent an electronic riverboat and drive yourself down the Thames. Rates start at about $200/night.
If you really want to get to Windsor Castle, I might suggest opting for Great Fosters. That’s because if you choose Cliveden you’ll want to spend your morning exploring the gardens, and at Pennyhill Park you’ll want to spend it in the spa. Wherever you stay, though, Jonathan can have a driver pick you up in the morning and take you to Windsor Castle and Eton College en route back to Heathrow. Beats staying at the airport Hilton or Sofitel, eh?
If you connect with Jonathan via the black CONTACT button below his photo on his Insider’s Guide here, you’ll be marked as a WendyPerrin.com V.I.P. traveler, and you’ll get the priority status and trip-monitoring service that go with that. Enjoy your layover!