Four main airports service the city of London. These are Stanstead Airport, Gatwick Airport, Heathrow Airport, and London City Airport. They tend to cater to different types of passengers depending on where they are from. For example, Heathrow and Gatwick tend to see international passengers arriving from outside of the European Union, while Stanstead and London City tend to see arrivals from the European Union.
When arriving in London, the majority of visitors, particularly those arriving from far afield, tend to head straight for their hotel, so that they can store their luggage and get their bearings a little bit before venturing out into the hustle and bustle that is England’s first city. For this reason, many people opt to stay (at least for the first night) in one of the many airport London hotels. These prove only marginally more convenient to reach than other, more central hotels, and still entail a journey of at least half an hour.
Choosing a hotel in central London, rather than at one of the Airport hotels London is equally suitable for travellers arriving at either Gatwick Airport or Heathrow Airport, as both of these airports have shuttle services providing direct routes into the city. They cost an average of £25 for a standard return ticket, and take 30 minutes to reach the city centre; so very little travelling time at all. On the other hand, although the hotels near each of these airports may be physically closer, they take around the same time to reach once you factor in the time it takes to find relevant transport (taxi, train, or bus), and are sometimes more expensive to reach (particularly if travelling by taxi).
If you are looking forward to resting as soon as your flight has landed and you have collected your baggage, then a hotel located at the airport is easier. However, bear in mind that they are astronomically more expensive than other hotels of the same calibre located in central London. As you may suspect, hotel rooms at the airports themselves fill up fast and availability is normally limited, and so it may be hard to find a hotel room upon arrival.
It is certainly worth taking one of the shuttles into the city centre rather than choosing a hotel near the airport. There are many cheap London hotels available near the terminus of both the Gatwick Express and the Heathrow Express. The Gatwick Express terminates at Victoria Station, so a hotel in the Victoria, South Kensington, or Earls Court areas are ideal for weary travellers looking for the closest, most convenient place to rest, and the entire journey, from airport to hotel room, will take no longer than an hour. Conversely, if you are taking the Heathrow Express, which terminates at Paddington Station, then hotels near Paddington, Notting Hill Gate, Lancaster Gate, Bond Street, and Edgware road are ideal.