Labours can differ and are dependent on so many factors, your friend’s circumstances and yours might vary enormously.
Unless you have been specifically advised to go to hospital early once you think labour has started then the best place to be is at home. In first pregnancies the first stage of labour (the stage where your cervix- neck of the womb fully dilates to about 10 cm) averages at about 10 -12 hours, if you go to hospital very early on they may suggest you go home until labour is a little more advanced, you may feel that you want to stay at the hospital ‘ just in case’ but unless you have to travel great distances to and from your local maternity unit you are likely to be more comfortable and relaxed in your own surroundings.
There are simple things you can try at home to help relax and prepare for later; have a warm bath, get your partner to massage your back, stay mobile but rest if you feel the need, remember to eat and drink because your body needs fuel to work well later. Contact the maternity unit or your midwife if you have any questions, you may well want to contact them to let them know labour has started and you will be coming in later.
NICE Guideline Intrapartum care -care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth