Travelling into Kensington from Heathrow Airport can be undertaken in several ways and your final choice will be a decision based on finance, time and convenience.
For the traveler in a hurry or with several suitcases, the easiest way is by car. You can either take a taxi or prebook a mini cab.
Outside each of the 5 airport terminals a taxi stands. These are clearly indicated on the airport terminal signage. If you are approached by someone offering a ride then it will almost certainly be an unlicensed mode of transport. Official blackcabs will not tout for business, they will wait on the taxi stand to be approached.
These are official London taxis - if the taxi sign is lit up then its available
The ride into Kensington will take around 40 minutes depending on traffic. Taxis are allowed to use the dedicated public transport traffic lane on the motorway which helps considerably during traffic problems which are common on the M4 into London. The cost will depend on which terminal, the travel duration, the number of passengers and the amount of luggage but a rough guide would be £45-£60. The meter works on time and distance so it varies according to road congestion.
Alternatively you can prebook a private car at a fixed price. The driver will meet you in Arrivals and assist you with your luggage to his vehicle which will be in the car parking zones close to every terminal. The cost varies but as a rough guide will be around 10% more than a taxi. Our recommended private car company is Addison Lee. They are the largest private carrier in London with very professional smartly dressed drivers in high end new vehicles.
The Addison Lee private car service
Travel into Kensington can also be by the tube system. The London Underground runs directly into Heathrow Airport to all 5 airport terminals. All tube trains run directly into Kensington stopping at Earls Court, Gloucester Road and then South Kensington. The journey takes around 40 minutes.
Gloucester Road and South Kensington stations are only around 1km apart so you need to establish which station is most convenient to get to your hotel.
If you are heading to more northern areas of Kensington, around Kensington High Street, then you have 3 choices to complete your journey. You can change trains at Gloucester Road and take the Circle line one stop to High Street Kensington (4 mins). Alternatively, you can alight at Gloucester Road and catch a cab direct to the hotel. Simply exit the station and walk 50m to the traffic lights at the junction of Gloucester Road and Cromwell Road. Finally you can walk the final leg of the trip which on a sunny day and with minimal luggage can be a good experience.
Gloucester Road station
There are taxis cruising Gloucester Road Station all day long. Simply stand on the roadside and wait until you see a taxi. if its "taxi" sign is lit up then its available so wave to him and he will stop. The drivers will for sure know every hotel in the area so don't worry about giving him directions.
The same applies at the South Kensington station. Here there is a taxi stand about 50m from the south exit.
To travel by tube from the airport you do need to buy a ticket in advance, you can not travel without one. Many visitors prepurchase a Travelcard but remember that to travel from the airport it has to cover Zone 6 which is the outermost travel area into London.
At Heathrow, you can get tickets out of the machines or easier still, buy one from the official ticket sellers that you quite often find on the approach to the platform. You can pay by credit card or cash.
If you do not have a ticket then you will not be able to get through the automatic ticket barriers at any station and will have to pay a fine.
Another alternative is to take the Heathrow Express train. This is a high speed non stop journey into Paddington Station. The journey time is around 16 minutes. From Paddington Station, without leaving the building, you take the escalator down to the tube system and follow the signs for the Circle Line. Simply ride the Circle line down to High Street Kensington, Gloucester Road or South Kensington which will take around 10 minutes. You can follow your journey by looking at the maps throughout each carriage or just look at the station names as you approach each stop. Be prepared to exit quickly as its usually busy with people wanting to board.
Tube crime has decreased drastically in recent times but be aware that like all cities there are opportunists around.
You can also take a cab from Paddington down to Kensington. The route will usually take you through Hyde Park so you can do some sight seeing on the way. Allowing for no road congestion, the drive will take around 10 minutes and the cost will be around £10 - £15 depending on duration, number of passengers and luggage.
The cost of the Heathrow Express is quite high and you can not use a Travelcard on this service. On every train there are ticket officials and you will be asked to buy a ticket should you not have one.
You can also use the Heathrow Shuttle which is a shared bus service and this will take you directly to your hotel.
Also using a shared bus, National Express operate services from London Heathrow Airport to London Victoria. The bus station is located between terminals 1,2 and 3, and is well signposted within the terminals. From terminals 4 and 5 catch Heathrow Connect to the central bus station.
From Victoria station take the tube system, its 2 stops on the Circle and District services to South Kensington and three to Gloucester Road. So long as you catch the Circle Line train its also only 3 stops to High Street Kensington
In our opinion
Single traveler in a rush: private car or Heathrow Express then a taxi or tube
Family: airbus or pre booked private car
Single or Couple on a budget: Oyster or Travelcard and use the tube
Lots of luggage: private car or taxi
If you are staying in South Kensington and can manage your luggage then it's by far easiest on the tube system.
Tip: if you ask the hotel to call a car then establish if they are calling a proper taxi or simply their cousin down the road who drives a banger. If its not an official taxi then ask the price in advance as they may be on commission. Whilst most reputable hotels will call a genuine private hire car or taxi there are odd instances of the vehicle being an unlicensed type so be careful.
Which ever way you travel, the journey should take around an hour from leaving the airport to arriving at your hotel.
Peak travel times may influence your choice of travel
7am - 10am: road traffic into London will be congested
4pm - 7pm: road traffic traveling out of London will be congested
Bad weather: vacant taxis may be hard to find
Kensington hotels near stations
Montana Hotel - Gloucester Road - 3 mins
Baileys hotel - Gloucester Road - 1 min
Millennium Gloucester Hotel - Gloucester Road - 2 mins
Holiday Inn Kensington Forum - Gloucester Road - 5 mins
Rydges Hotel - Gloucester Road - 4 mins
Vanderbilt Hotel - Gloucester Road - 3 mins
NH Harrington Hall Hotel -
Rembrandt Hotel - South Kensington - 8 mins