Getting to the Venue
The conference with take place at the South Kensington campus of Imperial College, adjacent to the Royal Albert Hall, Science Museum, and Natural History Museum. All conference venues except the Annual Dinner are on-campus and within 5 minutes walk of each other; the Annual Dinner will take place in the Millennium Hotel, Gloucester Road, which is approximately 10 minutes walk away.
London has an efficient and relatively cheap public transport system which runs 24-hours; delegates should find no problems using cheaper accommodation options anywhere within London, and travelling to and from Imperial College. Transport timetables and tube maps are available from Transport for London (tfl.gov.uk), but more conveniently are also available through integrated travel services and apps such as Google Maps and Citymapper, which maintain live-links to TFL real-time schedules. Taxi transport is also readily available. London Black Cabs can be safely hailed off the street or at stations, but are not always easy to obtain at busy times, and are relatively expensive. Many minicab services also exist, and app-based ones such as Uber are generally cheap, reliable and easily available.
The nearest underground (tube) station to the Imperial campus is South Kensington, which is a 5 minute walk. Either follow the subway signposted to the museums or walk north up Exhibition Road. Imperial is next to the Science Museum. Gloucester Road tube station is only a little further away. Both stations are on the District, Circle and Piccadilly lines. Many bus routes will take you even closer to campus; there are too many to list here, and you should use the resources mentioned above to determine your optimum routes. The postcode to use for campus for these services is SW7 2AZ – alternatively search for Exhibition Road, Imperial College, or the next-door Science Museum or Royal Albert Hall.
The London transport bus and tube network uses an integrated charging system. The simplest way to pay is with a contactless card. If you do not have one, you can buy a pre-paid ‘Oyster Card’ from any station, which you can top-up as required. You can no longer pay by cash on either bus or tube. Whichever card-type you use, you will be charged per single journey (currently £1.50 for any bus journey, £2.40 for any tube journey), with the total cost per day capped at the ‘One day travelcard’ rate (currently £12). The only exceptions to these charges come if you stray outside the central London travel zones (e.g. if you travel by tube from Heathrow). See tfl.gov.uk for full details.
Getting to London
The short version: Just no.
The longer version: you are strongly advised not to drive to the annual meeting unless you know London well and are able to secure parking. While the Imperial campus lies outside of the congestion charge zone, it can be difficult and slow to drive in to any part of Central London. More importantly, parking in South Kensington is difficult to obtain and often ruinously expensive. Some hotels may offer car-parking spaces, but if you wish to drive you are strongly advised to research car-parking options away from campus; you might even find it simpler to park outside London and use public transport to reach the centre.
London is easily accessible by train from any part of the UK, although none of the mainline train stations are particularly close to South Kensington – you will need to complete your journey by tube or bus, unless your accommodation is near a station. UK rail travel can be expensive, but booking early will often get the best prices – try for instance (www.thetrainline.com), and consider travelling at an off-peak time.
London is also served by regular coach services from towns and cities across the UK; these are almost always cheaper than trains. For information, see National Express Coaches (www.nationalexpress.com) and Megabus (www.uk.megabus.com). Many of these will terminate at Victoria Station, which is only two stops away from South Kensington on the Circle and District tube lines.
London is served by several airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted being the largest. Of these, Heathrow is the most convenient for reaching South Kensington – the Piccadilly tube line runs all the way to Gloucester Road and South Kensington, and is the cheapest way to reach the centre of London, although the journey can take nearly an hour. Fast trains run from all airports to central London, but you will in all cases need to make a tube or bus journey from their terminus to reach South Kensington. Train/tube travel to/from airports is strongly preferable to taxi travel, which can be slow and expensive.