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advice about renting a car to drive from London to the Cotswolds

We'll be staying in London for five nights then renting a car to drive to the Cotswolds for two nights. We'll spend our last night at a Heathrow hotel as we have a morning flight.

My question is where to rent our car. We'd originally thought we'd take the train to Oxford and rent at the train station, but our preferred rental company's office closes at 1:00 pm on Saturdays and we'd wanted to stay in the city a bit longer that day. The other option is to rent at Heathrow, but my question is, after one gets off the train, how do you get to the rental offices? Is it easy? We're traveling with children and don't want to schlep too much. Lastly, we could rent at an office near us in London, which my husband is keen to do because he secretly wants to drive in London. I'm not keen however.

What do you think?


Posted by
274 posts

We just rented a car from Enterprise 2 weeks ago. We had our ride in from our hotel drop us off at the arrival terminal. Enterprise had an office there and a shuttle that took us to their office and our car. I did rent the car about a month before we left so I had our confirmation number. Except for missing one turn out of Heathrow, it was great! We drove to Cornwall and were returning the car to Heathrow since we had a flight out the next day. Make sure they put in their address in the GPS for return. It was like bread crumbs home, just great!!

Posted by
6476 posts

Rent it at Heathrow. Been there, done that. Very easy.

Rental agencies are on a perimeter road so you’ll need to take a shuttle from the airport.

Very easy. Merely return to Heathrow ( via the Tube, TFL train or Heathrow Express). Your choice of transport will depend on your budget, patience and amount of luggage.

Exit the terminal and look for your car rental shuttle.
Can take anywhere from 10 - 30 minutes for shuttle to appear. Board it and enjoy the ride to the perimeter road.

One thing that helped me was to use google maps satellite view to see the towns in route to my destination. England is known for roundabouts and knowing directions before hand proved very helpful.

And don’t EVER drive in London.

Posted by
4183 posts

We always rent from Avis at Heathrow. As already stated, pickup and drop off are easy. You will be on the interstate/motorway within 5 minutes. To go to the Cotswolds take either the M4 or M40 depending on where in the Cotswolds you’re going.

Posted by
613 posts

Renting in town London is likely to be cheaper by a lot, especially from local firms. However, time this so you are driving out of town at 1:00 pm. to avoid the mid-day rush hour. Return is more problematic, unless you can hit the I:00pm sweet spot. The old joke about NYC, "Should we walk or do we have time to take a cab?" is reality in London.

If you have never driven in UK before, DO NOT RENT IN LONDON OR AT HEATHROW. Rent the car in Oxfrod & let it sit at the rental car lot until you are ready to leave.

BTW: you are absolutely right to want a car for the Cotswolds.