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Wanted: Smart advice re London, Bath and nearby points

Hi. We're a couple planning a 12-day vacation focusing on London, the Cotswolds and nearby spots. We'll rent a car for the bulk of it when not in London.
What's the smartest way to get to Bath from Heathrow after arriving following an all-night flight?
Or is that too much of a hassle? We could instead begin with a few days in London prior to going to Bath.
And ... assuming we spend all but three of our nights in London, the Cotswolds and Bath, where would you recommend spending our remaining three evenings?
We'd love some scenic and cultural variety, but wouldn't mind limiting the driving.
Thank you all.

Posted by
1878 posts

I can speak from personal experience that the bus from Heathrow directly to Bath works great. We pre-purchased but missed our bus because the flight was late, they charged us a little more but we did not have to purchase the ticket from scratch. While it does not sound that great to have a 2+ hour bus ride upon arrival, it was not so bad. We have done similar on a couple of other trips and it was fine. If you can get a nonstop flight to London it's no worse than catching a connecting flight would be, and actually quite a lot better.

My wife and I last traveled to England in 2013. started in Bath and then went to Devon before heading on to the Cotswalds, staying in Chipping Campden. Visited Glatsonbury on the way to Devon. We would Dartmoor National Park lived up to Rick's description. But we got a day and a half of clear weather and it rains almost every day there. If you want to limit the driving, Canterbury, Dover (for the castle), Rye, Brighton (Royal Pavilion) are all highly accessible by train. (But those are the far side of London from the Cotwalds). Also Salisbury is a nice stop for its cathedral and quaint city museum, although outside the cathedral we did not find it that special.

I definitely recommend ending in London after you have your travel legs on.

Posted by
6113 posts

The smart way to get to Bath isn't to leap in a hire car upon arrival at Heathrow after a long flight!

Only you know how you travel and how much jetlag you will have. Personally, I wouldn't want any more travel after a long flight, as I never sleep on planes, but you may want to get all your travelling done at once. The bus to Bath is a good option and you don't need a car in Bath itself. After the Cotswolds, you could drive to Oxford, taking in Blenheim Palace, then drop the car and take the train back to London.

Posted by
5384 posts

National Express has changed their policy in recent years. Now if you miss your booked coach even from airports you will have to pay again in full except if you made your ticket flexible when you bought it at an additional cost of £5.

Posted by
34 posts

We always feel jetlagged when flying between the US and Europe, so I wouldn't choose to rent a car. If the bus option VS mentioned works for you, that sounds perfect. You could even take a 2 hour nap on the bus if you can get comfortable enough. If you booked the bus, I'd choose a departure that gave you plenty of time to allow for delays with your flight, luggage, etc.

Whenever we fly transatlantic, we set aside the day we land. We get to our accommodation, go for a long walk to explore, get some food and go to bed! That said, if you're flying from Virginia, you've got a shorter flight than ours from the west coast so your jetlag might not be as bad.

If you were going to rent a car for the whole trip (minus London), why not spend the first few days in London, pick up the car in Heathrow as you leave London, see the Cotswolds and Bath and drop off the rental at Heathrow? You could then hop straight on your flight or spend another few days in London.

Posted by
970 posts

As others have indicated, your choice of what to do as soon as you get off the plane is going to depend on your readiness to spring into action after an all-night flight.

If you think you'll want an easy Day One, consider spending time in London first. You can request early check in at your hotel, so if you're victimized by a sudden attack of jet lag while the sun's still up, you can go back to the room and collapse. You can do the same in Bath, of course, if you're up for the bus ride.

Consider where you will spend the last night before flying out of Heathrow, as that will have an influence on your itinerary. Especially for a morning flight, I'd recommend staying in London or at one of the hotels at Heathrow.

Posted by
2785 posts

There is a comment in post above, "it rains almost everyday there", so untrue. My last trip was a month long, it rained once, at the end of the month, and it only lasted two hours. On other trips we've never had days of rain, only one or two days which only last a short period of time.

Posted by
680 posts

We flew from LAX to Heathrow and took the bus to Bath. It worked great. We had to hang out at the bus "station" for a while, but I think we got something to drink, watched people etc. And then the bus offered a great opportunity to see the countryside without worrying about driving; it was very stress-free. We arrived in Bath with time for me to wander around and my husband to take a short nap before dinner. It was perfect for us.

Posted by
358 posts

In June 2012, my wife and I arrived at Heathrow and immediately took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. From there, we purchased a ticket (departures every 30 minutes or so) to Bath. It was really easy and quick. You buy the Heathrow Express tickets right at the airport (easy to find). It was no problem after an overnight flight from the states. We got to Bath in the mid-afternoon, showered up and put our stuff at our hotel (Apsley House Hotel - one of the best little places we've ever stayed) and ventured out to see a little of Bath before an early dinner at a fine local pub (The Weston) and on to an early (9 pm local) bed time. You could do this anyway you like but I liked coming back to London at the end of the trip as it was nice to start somewhere a little less hectic/immense. Getting to Bath after a long flight was no trouble at all for us and with a little "I can't believe we're finally here!" adrenaline I suspect it wouldn't be for you either. I would NOT however recommend driving a car the first day if you can avoid it - that seems like asking for trouble. However you do it, you'll fall in love with Bath, the Cotswolds and London (it is hard not to!). Cheers!

Posted by
6817 posts

As someone else stated, only you know how bad you get jetlag. I had no trouble driving 2.5 hours to Bath after my all night flight, but that doesn't mean you wouldn't. The good news is it is expressway almost the entire way. Get on the M4 and follow the signs.

Posted by
21 posts

I always do a jet lag diet the week before I fly west coast USA to Europe and sleep on the plane. I am able to hit the ground running every time. And I love driving on the opposite side of the road, but be sure to rent an automatic. Costs more than a manual, but well worth it. You can find jet lag diets on the Internet. Have fun!

Posted by
7906 posts

After many TA and TP trips, I have found that the jet lag seriously sinks in about 4PM. We always try to hang on until about 7PM before we go to sleep. After sleeping about 12 hours, most of the jet lag effects are over.