Stansted airport is often given the misnomer of “London Stansted” which is ironic as it’s not particularly near London!
That has not stopped the marketing departments of low-cost airlines trumpeting its accessibility, though they have a point since it’s pretty well-connected with central London.
The main transfer options are the Stansted Express (train) and various coach services.
Though the Stansted Express is advertised as the “fastest route into London” this is not strictly 100% true.
The train stops at Tottenham Hale – technically on the London Underground network, but pretty far from central London. So the “real” journey time is about 46 to 55 minutes and even then you arrive at Liverpool Street station (handy for the City of London but not the West End).
A cheap and reliable alternative is to use a coach service. Having made dozens of trips in and out of Stansted myself, I would wholeheartedly recommend National Express, which operates a 24 hour service.
Not only is it cheaper than the train but in my experience faster if you want to end up in the West End (and not the City). It’s usually very reliable.
The only time you may want to avoid the coach is during the London rush hour when the journey will take considerably longer. Traffic can also be unpredictable at other times.
Why not reduce the hassle of getting in and out of London from Stansted by booking an overnight stay in a nearby hotel? This is especially advisable if your flight gets in or leaves at an unsociable hour.
And since taxis from Stansted into town can cost almost as much as a hotel room, it may not be a bad investment.
As an added bonus, some Stansted hotels throw in car parking deals with hotel rooms, useful if you want to avoid long-stay airport parking.
Hotels near Stansted are a mixed bunch. Here are some convenient options:
- The Radisson Stansted. This is the most accessible hotel, linked to the airport by a covered walkway. It’s probably the nicest Stansted hotel in terms of rooms but you do pay a higher room rate. There is a gym to help you shake off or pre-empt jet lag. If you book a “room and parking” package, they may take your car to another off-site car park.
- Holiday Inn Express Stansted. A more functional hotel than the Radisson but delivers the basics at a good price. It’s a shuttle bus ride from the airport (you may have to pay for the bus back to the airport).
- Hilton London Stansted. This hotel offers good value and I’ve stayed there several times myself. It is a well-run hotel with friendly staff and an attentive General Manager. It’s not the swankiest hotel around but delivers a good night’s sleep and is linked to the airport by shuttle bus. Some have complained that it’s slightly noisy, though this was not my experience. As mentioned, it has some of the nicest staff you’ll find.
Finally, another good reason to stay at a hotel in Stansted is the opportunity to take in a trip to Cambridge (in fact a lot nearer Stansted than London).
Cambridge in spring or summer is a true jewel of English tourism and shouldn’t be missed!
Photo credits: National Express, Radisson Hotels, Hilton Hotels, Holiday Inn Express Hotels.