Located 14 miles west of central London near the southern end of the London Borough of Hillingdon, Heathrow Airport is the largest and busiest airport in the UK and the EU and the third in busiest in the world. It’s the hub of British Airways and Virgin flights and caters for 170 flight destinations across the globe, the most popular being New York’s JFK. The airport’s location to the west of London and the east-west orientation of its runways means that planes usually approach to land directly over the city, treating passengers to a panoramic view of all London’s greatest landmarks.
With five terminals, Heathrow Airport is like a mini holiday resort, before you’ve got on the plane. Surrounded by two parallel runways, running east-west, the passenger terminal in the centre has a vast amount of shops, restaurants, bars, cafes and tax-free shopping after you’ve passed the rigorous security checks. The controversial terminal 5 is particularly advanced, with high tech security equipment, designer shopping and Gordon Ramsay restaurants. The airport has Anglican, Catholic, Free Church, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Jewish chaplains and a multi-faith prayer room in each terminal. It even has its own resident press corps, consisting of six photographers and one TV crew, serving all the major newspapers and television stations around the world. Countless celebs have been snapped, bleary-eyed and grumpy after touch-down.
You can reach the airport via the M25 motorway, the Piccadilly line from central London, or take the Heathrow Express from Paddington, which will get you to the door in 15 minutes. There is ample parking in long and short hold stays around all terminals.
If your flight is delayed, there are a number of local attractions to be enjoyed, but you’ll need a day a full day: Thorpe Park is a huge theme park 5 miles away in Chertsey, Windsor Castle is 6.7 miles away and Hampton Court is 6.7 miles away.