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Rental cars in England

Hello Everyone:

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.

My wife & I will be arriving in Southampton on the Queen Mary 2 May 2020. We had 10 days to spend in England, and as we have been to London several times, we decided to take accommodations at Stow-On-The-Wolds in the Cotswolds. Our plan is to drive from there, on day trips, visiting the villages of Bourton-on-the-hill, Blockley, Broad Campton, and Chipping Campden and the Cotswold Falconry Centre & Batsford Arboretum.
So - the question: Can we rent a car in Southampton? Will we be required to return it there? Is it possible to rent a car in Southampton and drop it off in Stow-On-the-Wolds? Would we be better off going into London to rent the car - returning it there?
If it would be possible to rent a car at Stow-On-the-Wolds - is there public transportation (train or bus) from Southampton to Stow-On-the-Wolds.
Thanking you in advance for any input, I am,
'Calvin Williams

Posted by
4264 posts

Can we rent a car in Southampton? Yes, I found options on

Will we be required to return it there? No

Depending on the company and where you drop off the car, there may be a drop-off fee. For instance, I searched renting a car in Southampton and dropping off at Heathrow airport. For a random week-long rental in March, the drop-off fee was about $75.

Is it possible to rent a car in Southampton and drop it off in Stow-On-the-Wolds?

Searching Europcar, I did not find companies that have the option to pick-up in Southampton and drop-off in Stow-on-the-Wold. There were options to drop-off in Oxford and at Heathrow (among others) - with drop-off fees.

If it would be possible to rent a car at Stow-On-the-Wolds
I did a quick search in Google Maps and saw at least 2 small rental car agencies near there.

Would we be better off going into London to rent the car - returning it there?

If you're flying out of Heathrow, you could return the car there - if you don't mind the drop-off fee and driving on the roads and motorways to get there. You could compare the drop-off fee at Heathrow against alternatives to return to your departure airport. The drop-off fee could be cost-effective. Depending on your comfort with driving in the UK, you may prefer to drop off the car sooner and take a train back to London.

Posted by
1544 posts

Calvin - After disembarking from ship after your cruise, you can head to Enterprise Rent a car near the terminal. Enterprise Rent-A-Car is at Dock Gate 8, Herbert Walker Ave, Western Docks.

Europcar and Hertz are also nearby.

You can charge for a one way car rental and drop the rental off in Cheltenham UK Enterprise location. Cheltenham is 30 minutes from Stow on the Wold.

Posted by
31512 posts

How are you leaving England?

Returning by boat or flight, or are you going elsewhere in Europe?

Please note that Stow on the Wold (where the wind blows cold, in the doggerel taught me by my aunts and grandmother) is singular.

I like your list of villages, but I'm a little confused by Bourton on the Hill. Are you going for the miniature WW2 museum? When I see Bourton on this Forum it is usually Bourton on the Water, a fair distance away.

Depending on where you are going next I'd be reluctant to return a car in Cheltenham, the transport connections from there are not brilliant and the one-way scheme can make otherwise sane and bushy headed drivers pull their hair out.

Posted by
7171 posts

We used Europcar and left our car in Southampton. Not sure about picking one up there.

Beware of using Europcar, they pulled a bait and switch with us on my car rental because I wanted a navsystem in the car.

We had much better results with Thrifty on an earlier trip to Britain.
We stayed in Chipping Campden and it was great. Loved the Cotswolds. Also, we visited Oxford, Blenheim Palace and Stratford Upon Avon.

Posted by
58 posts

We will be leaving the Cotswold area for a 10-day visit to Ireland. That portion of the trip is currently not worked out, but leaning heavily on RS guide for the trip (Also driving).
Then flying from Dublin to London for 12 days.
We depart London on the EUROSTAR #9014 to Paris - change trains and on to Florence for the rest of the summer.

I appreciate the feedback.


Posted by
2424 posts

Picking a car up from Southampton AIrport returning it at Birmingham airport, then flying to Ireland would be worth considering.

Posted by
1987 posts

You might contact Autoeurope and ask about your itinerary. We rented from them several times and always had a good experience. We rented most recently from Southampton after arriving by cruise ship. The folks at the 800 number have always been helpful in working out a plan. Good luck and safe travels.

Posted by
1186 posts

Hello from Wisconsin,
Yes you can rent a car in England, but you can't rent road space. Be prepared for crowded driving. Even the M-roads are often full. However, driving in the Cottswolds was beautiful. Finding parking in some of the places you mention was nearly impossible until after 5PM. Some villages had lines of cars trying to enter. We just drove by and went to lesser known villages. Bill Bryson's 2015 book, The Road to Dribbling, is a fun read but he mentions the car crush in England often.

Phone Autoeurope and ask for their suggestions. Tell them your plan and ask where to rent. Trains connect London with all parts of the Empire, heh, heh. You might be better served taking train to near the Cottswolds and the renting there, returning there. Driving in to and out of London...stressful!

We rented an apartment in Cirencester, on the edge of the Cottswolds. I bet they rent cars there. This was a reasonable place to stay as roads radiated out of the city.

wayne iNWI