Heathrow Free Zone

As a frequent traveler to London, one of my frequent challenges is getting around.  Often I'll find hotels at Heathrow at very reasonable prices, which is a great place to stay if you have an early morning flight the next day.   One of the little known things about the area around Heathrow is free to ride on public buses, this is dubbed the Heathrow Free Zone.   The Transport for London's website has information on the area that is free here .

So while the hotels offer their Hotel Hoppa service, which is a paid bus service to and from the hotels, one can just take any number of city buses from Heathrow's Central Bus Terminal.  

I normally stay at the Sheraton Skyline (for the record, there are two Sheraton's at Heathrow), so I take the 105, 111, 140, 285, 555 or N9 bus and get off at the Bath Road (New Road) stop.   This stop also serves the Heathrow Marriott, after passing the Park Inn, Rennaisance and Radisson Blu and both Holiday Inns.   On the link above, there is a little box in the bottom left corner which tells you which stops to get off for which hotel.

If you decide you want to head into the city from your hotel, no need to go back to the airport.  The 285 and 555 bus head to the Hatton Cross tube stop after their run on Bath Road.  Incidentally, on these lines, Hatton Cross is the end of the Heathrow Free Zone.  One additional bonus is that Hatton Cross is in Zone 5 and not Zone 6 like Heathrow, so the fare for the tube is also reduced in comparison.

At first it can be a bit daunting, but once you master it, it is a great system that i've used repeatedly over the years.


Kerwin November 30, 2012 at 10:52 pm

great tip, I do this all the time; its one of the tips in my London; from the airport to the city Guide :-).

If you have luggage, though, you are better off taking the Heathrow Hopper to your hotel. It's just less hassle since the buses don't really have room for luggage.

One additional tip; get an Oyster Card for the Tube travel.

Thomas February 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Absolutely agreed! This is quite possibly the most under-advertised deal in all of Great Britain! The airport authority mandates the free service for the airport perimeter area and it is not something that the Hoppa service wants advertised, nor could I find any mention of this service anywhere within Heathrow.

The last time I was there, I stayed at Jury's Inn at Hatton's Cross (I recommend this hotel) and used the 555 bus. The bus I was on had a dedicated place for luggage, although it can fill up quickly during peak times.

Do be aware of the route times (listed at each stop) and don't hesitate to ask the driver for stop/direction confirmation. I found most of the drivers, although in a rush, will be happy to answer your questions.