Luton is a large town and local government district in the south-east of England, located 51 km (32 miles) north of London. It used to part of the county of Bedfordshire, but since 1997 it has been an administratively independent unitary authority. It remains part of Bedfordshire for ceremonial purposes. The town is known internationally primarily because of London Luton Airport, the home airport and headquarters of the low cost airline Easyjet.
Luton is a multicultural town with a population of towards 200,000. It was originally known as a center of the straw and hat making industry: hence "The Hatters", the nickname of Luton's football club. One or two hat making factories still exist in and around the Old Bedford Road area of the town. More recently, Luton was known as the home of Vauxhall cars and Whitbread brewing. Both are now shadows of their former selves.
Luton has three railway stations, one in the town centre, one close to the airport and one towards the north of the town.
Luton Station is served by First Capital Connect and East Midland trains. From Luton, trains go north to Bedford, Kettering, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham. Southbound trains go to Luton Airport Parkway, St Albans, London, Gatwick Airport, Brighton, Wimbledon and Sutton.
The typical off peak service from this station is as follows:
- 4 trains per hour (tph) to Bedford (operated by First Capital Connect)
- 4 trains per hour to Brighton via Luton Airport Parkway, St Albans, London and Gatwick Airport (First Capital Connect)
- 2 trains per hour to Sutton via Luton Airport Parkway, St Albans, London and Wimbledon (First Capital Connect)
- 1 tph to London St Pancras (East Midland trains)
First Capital Connect trains serve several stations in Central London, including Kings Cross Thameslink and Blackfriars
Luton Airport Parkway railway station opened in 1999 and is located south-east of Luton and west of the airport. A shuttle bus operates between the station and the airport, with a journey time of about ten minutes.
The station is located on the East Midland Line and is served by First Capital Connect and East Midland trains. From the station, you can travel north to Bedford, Kettering, Leicester, Loughborough and Derby. Passengers can also travel south to St Albans, London, Wimbledon, Sutton, London Gatwick Airport and Brighton. The typical off-peak service from this station is as follows:
- 4 tph to Brighton via London and Gatwick Airport (First Capital Connect)
- 2 tph to Sutton via London and Wimbledon (First Capital Connect)
- 1 tph to London St Pancras (Midland Mainline)
- 2 tph to Luton only (First Capital Connect)
- 4 tph to Luton and Bedford (all stations) (First Capital Connect)
- 1 tph to Derby via Leicester (fast to Bedford) (East Midland trains)
- 1 tph to Nottingham via Bedford, Kettering, Leicester and Loughborough (East Midland trains)
Luton has an international airport; the London Luton Airport. Frequent flights from many European destination are available, notably from the low cost carrier EasyJet.
Car parks serving Luton Airport
|Address||On/Off Airport||Distance / Transfer Time||Security|| Park Mark
|Luton Airparks||Grove Road, Slip End, Luton, LU1 4BZ||Off||50 minutes||Fully secured car park with fencing, floodlights, 24 hour patrols and CCTV||Yes||No trailers, mobile homes or caravans are permitted within the Short Stay Compound.|
|Luton Mid Stay Car Park||London Luton Airport, Navigation House, Airport Way, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU2 9LY||On||N/A||Secured by a high perimeter fence, is well floodlit and is protected by 24hr CCTV surveillance and manned patrols||-||No trailers, mobile homes or caravans are permitted within the Mid Stay Compound|
|Luton Short Stay Car Park||London Luton Airport, Navigation House, Airport Way, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU2 9LY||On||N/A||Secured by a high perimeter fence, is well floodlit and is protected by 24hr CCTV surveillance and manned patrols.||-||No trailers, mobile homes or caravans are permitted within the Short Stay Compound|
|Luton Priority Parking||London Luton airport, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU2 9QT||On||Customer is met at terminal. No transfer required.||Manned 24 hours a day and has CCTV, floodlighting and a high perimeter fence||-||Customer is met at the terminal upon departure and arrival.|
Luton is easily accessible by car. Situated about 5 minutes from the M1 junctions 10 and 11, travelling from the south/London and the north respectively. The A505 provides a link via Hitchin to the A1(M), and the Cambridge/Hertfordshire area.
Luton Tourist Information Centre is in Luton Central Library, St. George's Square, Luton, Tel: +44 1582 401579
- Some surprisingly pleasant countryside is to be found around Luton. To the north of the town (in the village of Streatley) is a wooded hill named the Clappers, which is a good place for a walk. To the west of the town are Dunstable Downs, the eastern edge of the Chilterns and a popular place for walking, gliding and kite-flying.
- Shaw's Corner, in Ayot St Lawrence (on the way to Welwyn Garden City). This was George Bernard Shaw's home and is now owned by the National Trust.
- Someries Castle - restored and reopened in 2008. Although always referred to as a castle it was actually a 15th-century fortified manor house. Just outside town, close to the airport.
- Kenilworth Stadium, 1 Maple Road, LU4 8AW. The home of Luton Town Football Club, offers footballing sights and sounds to the few thousand spectators who follow The Hatters. Kenilworth Road is best known to football supporters (and sociologists) as the venue for riots which broke out during and after a clash between Luton Town and Millwall in 1985.
- There is a large South Asian with several mosques and interesting temples such as Guru Nanak Gurdwara to visit, as well as jewlery market and curryhouses.
- Wardown Park, contains pleasant lake (to feed the ducks) and gardens plus the Luton Museum and Art Gallery, is housed in a large Victorian mansion in Wardown Park on the outskirts of the town centre.
- Stockwood Park is another pleasant, quiet space to picnic and enjoy when there is nice weather. In case of rain, the Stockwood Discovery Centre, houses the unique Mossman Horse-Drawn Carriage Collection as well displaying local rural crafts and trades.
- Luton Carnival, one of the largest summer carnivals in Europe.
- Marks & Spencer newly built.
- TK Maxx
Luton's Arndale centre was the largest indoor shopping centre in Europe when it was opened in 1971, and it includes a large indoor market.
- Balti Nights, on Wellington Street, just off the High Street by the Town Hall. Great value curry house, has an offer of a popadom, curry, rice and a naan for just £5. Lots of dishes to choose from and very vegetarian friendly. Despite the bargain prices they serve great curries freshly prepared and staff are very friendly and always remember you.
- Bellini's, located in the town centre, is a bar and club by night, but during the day it serves up reasonably-priced, semi-Italian cuisine.
- Lazim, in the Bury Park area, is a newly opened Indian restaurant with delicious and affordable food; to get an incredibly-priced buffet, go for lunch or on Sunday evenings.
- Leaside Hotel (listed in the accommodation section below) has the most varied menus, including British classics, Mediterranean food and seafood. Portions are generous and booking in advance is a good idea. A great range of food is also available at the bar. The mix of Victorian surroundings and unobtrusive modern touches make this place stand out in a town that many consider a desert for foodies. You should note that, at the time of writing, the main restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings, so do check if you are going on Sunday.
- ZaZa, on Park Street. Authentic Italian family run restaurant. Huge portions and great value, a proper little piece of Italy in the heart of Luton.
For a quick bite, walk through the Arndale (large shopping centre) and grab some ethnic specialties in the market, such as an Indian samosa or savoury African pancake. There are also franchises like Costa, Gregg's, and McDonald's. Aroma, the Asian restaurant in the Galaxy, offers an incredible (though pricey) buffet; for cheaper prices, go for lunch.
- White House, attached the Galaxy cinema/bowling/arcade complex. Very friendly atmosphere, complete with a fireplace, armchairs, and bookshelves lining the walls.
- Leaside Brasserie Hotel, 72 New Bedford Road, LU3 1BT, ☎ +44 1582 417643, fax: +44 1582 734961. Victorian family run hotel with award winning restaurant and four poster beds. From £43.
- Hillhouse, 93 London Road, LU1 3RG, ☎ +44 1582 722725. Single B&B from £30, Free wi-fi.
- Stockwood Hotel, 41/43 Stockwood Crescent, LU1 3SS, ☎ +44 1582 721000. Single from £35.
- The Royal Hotel, 1 Mill Street, ☎ +44 1582 400909.
Generally, if you keep your wits about you, you should not run in to any great trouble. Do avoid travelling on your own between midnight and 4am, as drunk people are often looking for fights. If a drunk makes a gesture towards you it is best to ignore them and keep walking. If you have been on a night out it is safest to get a licensed taxi, of which there are plenty.
It is not advised to wear a Watford FC shirt in town, especially in evenings or on Saturdays. Despite lacking the great success and history of the Hatters, Watford are considered rivals of Luton Town FC, and Watford shirts are by no means inconspicuous (their team colour is bright yellow). Wearing a Watford shirt is unlikely to attract more than verbal abuse but could turn ugly if you are not careful. It is similarly not advised to wear a Millwall FC shirt in Luton.
Luton is very well placed for travelling to many other interesting places.