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Review: ExpressTest Covid-19 testing at London St Pauls One New Change

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This is our review of the new ExpressTest testing facilities at One New Change, St Pauls.

We have previously reviewed the Gatwick drive-through and the Heathrow Terminal 5 location. This is our first review of a city-centre ExpressTest facility – there are further testing sites at Paddington station and Westfield Stratford.

ExpressTest has been in a big growth phase this summer and its latest location to open is the new walk-in centre at the One New Change shopping centre between Bank and St Pauls. It opened in early September.

ExpressTest offers a full suite of testing services at One New Change, including:

  • ‘Fit to Fly’ PCR testing
  • ‘Fit to Fly’ lateral flow (antigen) testing
  • Day 2 arrivals testing

I needed a PCR test to enter Dubai last week and the location of One New Change was ideal, just round the corner from the WeWork I was in. It is very convenient for anyone who has returned to the office around Bank, Mansion House and Cannon Street – you can just pop in and do a test on your lunch break.

ExpressTest charges £80 for a Fit to Fly PCR test at St Pauls One New Change, although they provided us with a test for free. It is slightly cheaper at £60 at both Heathrow and Gatwick.

One key attraction of doing a test in person (rather than an at-home delivery kit) is the turnaround time. The UAE requires that tests be conducted within 72 hours of departure. A cheaper at-home postal kit would probably have taken too long and would have depended on Royal Mail’s delivery times.

ExpressTest usually returns the result by 10pm the next day or – at the very most – 48 hours after testing.

St Pauls One New Change

Finding ExpressTest St Pauls One New Change

As this site is brand new the signage at One New Change hasn’t been updated yet, so it took a bit of a hunt to find. You can save yourself the hassle and head straight to the lower ground floor via these steps:

ExpressTest St Pauls One New Change stairs

You’ll immediately see the bright white and blue sign once you’re downstairs:

ExpressTest St Pauls One New Change storefront

You are greeted by someone with spare masks outside, in case you have forgotten yours. Inside, the testing site is very bright and clean – it looks extremely professional:

ExpressTest St Pauls One New Change check-in

I was surprised by the size of the facility. There are 16 booths. As this is a new location for ExpressTest things were still pretty quiet and I was the only person there at the time. Only a couple of members of staff were carrying out the swabs, so there is plenty of room for ExpressTest to ramp up and grow here.

ExpressTest St Pauls One New Change booths

As at other locations you have to show your booking QR code to the check-in desk, as well as your passport if doing a Fit to Fly test.

Once checked in you are escorted to one of the swab booths where a member of staff is waiting:

ExpressTest St Pauls One New Change swab

(There is a seat in the bottom right hand corner which you cannot see.)

For the PCR the ExpressTest team swab each side of your tonsils for 5 seconds, plus 10 seconds in a nostril of your choice.

And that’s it. I was in and out within 5 minutes. Once done, you can expect to receive your results via email by 10pm the next day, although the ExpressTest website does warn that it can take up to 48 hours.

Conclusion

This was my third ExpressTest experience and I have to say that the swabbing experience is by far the best I have had at any test facility – and a marked contrast to a test I did in Madrid which felt like it had bored into my brain.

All the staff are very gentle and conscious that doing the swab is not particularly pleasant – if you need a quick break they are happy to oblige. If you work in The City it will be a convenient choice.

You can book test slots on the ExpressTest website here.

Thanks to ExpressTest for letting us try out the new site.

Comments (47)

  • Sandra says:

    It is a PCR 48 hours prior to departure for Abu Dhabi, Dubai is 72 hours – the UAE is not all the same so double check depending on which emirate you are flying to!

    • Sandra says:

      And the cheapest in person PCR with Fit to Fly certificate around us is £120, which is what you really need to ensure it’s back in time – total rip off!

  • David says:

    Given that ‘time is of the essence’ with these tests I’m surprised that the article doesn’t confirm when this result was received – only when it should normally be received. What happens if it doesn’t come back in time and you cannot fly as a result (or the result is inconclusive)?

    • Rhys says:

      It was received before 10pm next day 🙂

    • blenz101 says:

      Most providers will give you a refund and retest. Your best bet for this is to use someone like Collinson who are at least doing PCR tests with 3 hour returns at the airport which should give you enough of a buffer.

  • David S says:

    Have been to their locations at LHR T4 and Reading. Both really good and well set up. Now, if the govt could subside them it would be better still or utilise some of the extortionate fees we pay to leave the U.K., a good result as well

    • Andrew says:

      Can you imagine the tantrums from the Labour Party and Greens if the government sponsored holidays in a “climate Emergency”?

      • blenz101 says:

        They aren’t traditionally fans of private medicine or regressive taxes either.

        There has always been acknowledgement they aren’t against the once a year family holiday to Spain which people have worked hard for and saved. Should they really now pay an additional £320 for a family of 4 when they are all vaccinated and healthy to have the same holiday.

        Meanwhile, the US reopens and The City gets back in full swing expensing the tests as people finally meet up for their first in person meetings and conferences in two years – let the champagne flow in NY, London and LA!

  • SammyJ says:

    I looked into travel to Dubai in August and the info at the time said that home-kit PCR tests were not acceptable – is that no longer the case, as the article implies that the only reason it wasn’t used here was the Royal Mail turnaround time?

    • blenz101 says:

      Home-test kits are still not acceptable in Dubai. You may get away with it but would depend very much on what your certificate said and how thorough the check-in agent was. Not really worth the risk.

      Emirates website always has the latest information on what is and isn’t acceptable for Dubai.

  • Tw33ty says:

    They also have a location inside Westfield Shepherd’s Bush shopping centre which I found strange (maybe just me)

  • Peter Williams says:

    I do think that Rhys’s phrase “plus 10 seconds in a nostril of your choice” deserves the HFP award for writing excellence 2021. I cannot envisage anything topping that in the last part of the year.

  • Paddy Stewart says:

    I’m travelling to Dubai on 13th October. Other than the PCR test, do I need any other documentation or app for entry to Dubai? I have heard that a Health Declaration Form needs to be completed and an app called COVID19-DBX Smart installed on your phone. Thanks.

    • Bob says:

      In practice they only ask for the certificate. Officially as per rules, the forms and app are required.

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