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Car rental recommendations and locations

I am planning a trip to great Britain next june! Any advice on how soon to get lodgings and car rental booked!I am waiting to book air fare until approx 4 months out. Plan to "hire car" upon leaving Bath and then drive to Bleinheim on our way to chipping camden. What is the best way to go about this? After Cotswolds i will head to Conwy area. Where is the best place to drop off car? I saw on prior postings that it can be done in Llandudno junction ,Conwy or Chester? We are planning to take train (not car) to York. Also there will be 4 adults age 64-71. We will have been landed. 2 days before hiring a car to recover from jet lag. How hard/easy is driving in great britain? My husband did it in provence 10 Years ago with no problem. Also how much more should I expect an automatic to cost compared to manual? Thank you ahead of time

Posted by
1065 posts
Posted by
3799 posts

I can't answer all your questions, but will try to answer some. My experience with hotels in the Cotswolds is to book early because they seem to fill up. Having said that, we were there in September last year and so I can't speak if June is also very busy. I believe I booked in March for a September visit and selection was limited.

We hired a car in Bath via Enterprise. I would use their website directly and you will be able to search for other locations for drop off. There will be a fee. I think we paid about a 75 Pound drop off fee to leave the car at Gatwick. If you call Enterprise the day before they will pick you up and take you to their Bath location. The service was very good. Let them know there are 4 of you with luggage or they may pick you up in a car that is too small.

How easy is it to drive? For me the first day was a bit stressful as I got used to narrow roads and driving on the left, but as the days went on it got easier. Intersections and traffic circles will take some concentration. My wife and I drove as a team, I drove and she navigated intersections to remind me about staying on the left. Bottom line, if you're a good driver at home, you'll be a good driver in the UK. I did find the highways to be easier to drive than the country roads because everyone was going the same direction and not much thought was was required to remind myself to stay on the left.

The challenges I experienced driving in the Cotswolds was narrow roads and tight parking. Expect 1.5 lane wide roads in some places. Very courteous drivers though. Everyone knows the roads are narrow and behave accordingly.

One valuable piece of advice I was given at the rental place was to use the postal code (zip code) instead of the street address when plugging and address into a GPS. The English addresses can be somewhat confusing as compared to what we're used to in North America. Luckily our car had built in GPS. I have a Tom Tom GPS that I had brought, but there is no option to plug in addresses using postal codes.

We had our car for 4 days and it was about $100 more for an automatic vs a manual. Money well spent in my opinion.

Posted by
7195 posts

We rented a car from Europcar and I would never rent from them again. They did a kind of bait and switch and we had to pay way more for our car rental.

Compare what you get from various car rental companies. We used Thrifty the first time we drove in Britain and they were great.
Definitely get an automatic and a navigation system (or GPS). The automatic will add at least 50% to the cost, but you will likely have a car with more boot (trunk) space.
We loved driving around Wales and England. South Wales was amazing.

The good:
British drivers are generally very polite and patient. They follow the rules of the road and are not overly aggressive like people in the NE part of the USA.
The road system is well developed and the motorways (main divided highways) are great.
The countryside of Wales and England is amazing and very scenic.

The bad:
The South of England and the Midlands are overloaded with traffic. Too many cars. Stay out of large cities as much as you can.
The largest cities that we visited were Cardiff, York, Durham and Winchester. The North of England and Wales are much better.
Traveling many of the country roads through small towns and villages, is slow. Be sure not to exceed the 30MPH speed limits in those villages. They have cameras.
Many of the country roads are narrow and bordered by hedges or stone walls (especially in the North). When another car approaches, you must slow down and it is no fun worrying about scraping the hedges with your car.
Parking is a pain and carry coins to pay for the parking.

Posted by
5818 posts

I rent from Avis and have always been pleased. Since you’ll be traveling June to some popular cities/villages, I recommend making reservations as soon as your itinerary is firm and you know which date you’ll be in each location. Conwy and Llandudno are close to each other (only a few miles). Chester is an hour from Conwy. It may be easier to catch a train from Chester to York than from Conwy or Llandudno. It doesn’t take long to get the hang of driving from the left lane. To check on the difference in cost between a manual and automatic, go to Avis, Hertz’s , or whoever’s website and plug in the dates of your trip. Use your pickup and drop off locations, pick a car where automatic is an option, then select the same car, but as a standard. Note the price difference. Since you’ll be dropping off at a different location, there will be a one way fee involved. The website should tell you what it is too.