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Returning from Cotswolds to LHR Question

In search of advice/recommendations for our when to head back from the Cotswolds to LHR for a 12:55 PM departure. We'll be returning a rental car. We're debating between staying that final night in the Costwolds, getting up very early, and heading straight to LHR vs. driving back the night before. While I hesitate to "waste" our last evening staying at the airport, that may make things less stressful the next morning. Perhaps there's a happy compromise someone is aware of (a nice town to explore and stay the evening that's close to LHR)?

Thanks for any suggestions!

Posted by
344 posts

Unless you’re leaving on a Sunday, don’t drive up from the Cotswolds on the morning of your departure, as in order to get to the airport 3hrs before your flight with a little extra time to hand over the car, you’ll be catching the morning rush hour, especially on the roads heading towards London.

The suggestion to stay in Windsor is a good one - it’s a pretty place to stay and for a wander around the night before, and it’s only 10 miles to the airport from there. You do need to be at the airport 3 hours before international departure times, even if you’re used to much less time before flights within the US.

Posted by
16938 posts

We have stayed in Windsor overnight before our Heathrow flight and it worked out very well. We spent the afternoon walking along the Thames and exploring Eton, enjoyed a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant near the river, and saw the Changing of the Guard at Windsor Castle the next morning before heading the airport by taxi. We did not visit the castle itself because it was not open at the time, but you may be able to.

Posted by
585 posts

Stay in Windsor but just make sure you allow plenty of time to get to LHR. It’s only a few miles but it’s one of the busiest routes into London and the traffic will be crawling, unless it’s a Sunday. Personally I don’t consider staying at the airport a “waste”, rather it’s a more relaxed and stress fee way of doing it than driving in from the Cotswolds and coping with the horrendous mess that is Heathrow traffic.

Posted by
358 posts

Windsor is always the obvious choice - if a flight is especially early just stay at Heathrow