Leeds is a wonderful city full of amazing shops and excellent restaurants. Sometimes, though, you need to head down south to the big city. Time spent in London can be a lot of fun, but the journey down from Leeds can be anything but fun! Here are my hints and tips as to how to do it as easily and as cheaply as possible.
This is (along with an ‘open’ rail ticket) the most expensive way to do it. That said, if you live in north Leeds, fancy earning some Avios points and like the idea of a drink, some snacks and a one hour journey (excluding travel to and from the airports) then you can’t beat it. For me, it is my favourite way to travel between the two cities as the Heathrow Express and the Piccadilly line on the underground offer great links into London. Similarly, the 757 and other Leeds buses make Leeds Bradford Airport fairly accessible. Speed-wise, it is unbeatable, but price-wise you’re looking at a minimum of £100 unless you get lucky!
For those of you who are in the money, there are plans to create a Leeds East Airport. This will offer a private jet service down to London for the same price as a first class ticket on the train.
Trains to London represent a great traveling option. Price-wise, you can get lucky with a decent deal. A two together railcard allows you to travel with your partner or friend fairly cheaply, and a young person’s railcard offers good savings on a train service that is reasonable in time (about 2-3 hours depending on your luck and the route). At the wrong time, though, you can be hit hard by overcrowding, delays, and the fact that unless you are booking in advance you are likely to be stung on price. Advance fares come out about three months in advance, so get them booked up ASAP and you might find that you can fix your train times (even in first class) and get a very reasonable return fare by booking two singles.
Again, for a bit of luxury, you can go first class and get a meal and free booze during the week as well as a decent enough meal but crucially at the weekend the meal is a lot smaller and there is no free booze!
Coach (National Express and Megabus):
There are two options here, so first of all let’s take a look at the Megabus:
This really is a no frills approach. After a long, long time, the Megabus now leaves from the actual Leeds Bus station and not a random place in town! This is the ultimate budget option with fares (excluding the booking fee) costing £1. Yes, £1 to get to London (plus the booking fee)! Of course, it is £1 to get back as well, meaning that you might end up spending nearly £3 or so to get a return journey! Whilst this of course sounds wonderful, the reality is that this is no frills. Imagine Ryanair for buses where they actually stop the bus a fair few times regardless of the delays from traffic etc. With a journey time of about 4 hours 40 minutes (if it runs smoothly), you can spend a fair part of the day travelling and you can be sure that this won’t be your most luxurious journey but it is perfect for people with time on their hands and students (the same thing maybe!).
Now onto the posher coach journey with National Express:
Offering a more direct journey down the M1, the National Express option is certainly a bit quicker than the Megabus. For me, the seats are on the whole comfier but the cost is almost 10 times as much per journey if you compare the cheapest options. For me, the only real bonus of National Express is the option to buy a semi open (changeable and refundable) ticket that allows you the cheapest flexible travel option. For me, if you want to go by coach and have the time, Megabus is not ten times worse than National Express; maybe National Express need to up their game if they want to convince me to use them again.
So, all in all, there are a fair few options available to you, and it really depends on your budget and your time constraints. Of course the plane is the quickest and of course the Megabus is the cheapest. Price-wise, you can go from a return journey costing about £3 all the way up to about £400 for a fully flexible first class train ticket! For me, the plane still rules if I have the cash, followed closely by an advance rail ticket as they both avoid the lengthy journey times that eat into a weekend break. That said, I tolerated the coaches easily enough in my student days!
Let me know what you think by commenting below or tweeting me at @theleedsfoodie.
Categories: Travel Tips