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Itinerary planning England

My husband & I are celebrating our 30th anniversary in England and are leaving in less than two weeks!!...Flying in & out of Heathrow, we are spending 4 nights in London and then 3 nights exploring the Cotswolds from Broadway. We would like to rent a car once we depart London. Should we return to Heathrow to pick it up or is there a better/easier location on the way to Broadway? We would like to avoid driving in congested areas.
Then, we think we would like to see Bath & Oxford & perhaps Windsor in our remaining 5 days. Recommendations for a lovely B&B base to accomplish this? Thank you

Posted by
9110 posts

Either the airport or Reading for the car, whicheve is cheaper. Both are easy.

Posted by
31303 posts

Lisa, I'd suggest heading to Bath by train or National Express Coach after touring London, and then rent the car there at the end of your visit to Bath. That way you won't have to pay for the rental or parking until you actually need the car. That's the method I used a few years ago when touring Bath and the Cotswolds, with side trips to Bovington and Yeovilton. I returned the car at the airport in Bristol before flying to Dublin. It all worked out very well. Happy travels!

Posted by
837 posts

Lisa, you don't mention what you want to see in Bath. If it is just Bath, I would recommend train down and back. I would also recommend doing Windsor as a day trip from London. I would include Oxford as part of the Cotswolds excursion. If you have sights to see outside Bath, I would train to Bath and rent the car there. See Bath, then drive up to the Cotswolds/Oxford, then reserve a hotel room at the Premier Inn at Heathrow for the night before departure, returning the car at Heathrow. Great B&B in Bath is the Apsley House. Sorry, no recommendations for Windsor or Oxford except to visit from London and Broadway respectively.

Posted by
970 posts

If either Bath or Oxford is going to be your first destination away from London, take a train there and then rent the car. when you're ready to return, drop the car off and take the train back in to London (use a taxi to get from one place to the other), or better yet take a bus directly to Heathrow. (Train to London means you'd need to backtrack out to Heathrow.) Oxford is one hour by train from London Paddington. Bath is about 2 hours from Paddington. Oxford's population is about 100,000; Bath is smaller. Much less congestion and much easier for someone new to UK driving than leaving from confusing Heathrow (one of the world's biggest and busiest airports; and it is not exactly located in the bucolic countryside. The reason people complain about Heathrow's noise is that there all houses all around). You do not need a car to see the usual sights in either Bath or Oxford, so it's best to pick it up when you leave to continue your trip. Research buses from Bath and Oxford to Heathrow to see if they meet your requirements. By the way, an itinerary that takes you from London to Bath by train, then thru the Cotswolds by car into Oxford, and then by bus into Heathrow, would not be farfetched. In either city, staying in the city center is the most convenient.

Posted by
970 posts

If memory serves, Reading has only one station, just off the center, and it's being remodeled for the next year or so.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all. I so appreciate your advice as I continue to make plans.

Posted by
8449 posts

Lisa, I've no advice about car rental but I spent 3 nights in Bath in September and wished I had planned one more night. I really enjoyed the sights there. I stayed inThe Kennard bed and breakfast which was a 10 minute walk from the train station. If you are there on a weekend night most places require a 2 night stay. When I was looking for accommodation I also noticed a huge price jump on Friday and Saturday nights.

Posted by
9110 posts

Brain has magically reset itself. There are, in fact, two station in Readiny about a mile apart: Reading and Reading West. Cars are at the former. If you go all the way out to Bath or up to Oxford, you'll miss the chance to drive right by Stonehenge, Avebury, Silbury, and West Kennet.

Posted by
662 posts

In early October, we stayed at the Apple Tree B&B run by a very helpful and friendly young couple - Les and Lynsay. It is a Rick Steves' recommendation. They have a website you can book through. Nice rooms (a bit small) and very clean. Everything you need in your room and bath. Excellent breakfast fixed your way. They are a very convenient walk 10-15 walk from the bus/train station in central downtown. I recommend them highly. We were only in Bath for one full day and pretty much saw what we wanted (it seemed to be enough for us). We took the free city walking tour in the morning (excellent) and toured the Roman Baths in the afternoon (excellent). We popped into the cathedral for a quick viewing. We ate one dinner at the pub across the street from the Apple Tree and another dinner at Yak Yeti Yak (also a Rick Steves' recommendation).

Posted by
662 posts

During our 3-day Cotswold stay, we saw plenty of the cute towns and lovely country in just driving from one site to another. Although we enjoyed Hidcote Gardens, it might not be so good at this time. We really enjoyed Snowshill Manor (more than we thought we would). We also spent a good part of one day touring Blenheim Palace - home to the Spencer-Churchills (yes, of Diana and Winston relation). It is a spectacular property with a wonderful exhibit of Winston, a fun technical-animated tour about building the palace, and a lovely guided tour of some of the rooms. We were not able to include Oxford or Windsor in this trip.

Posted by
662 posts

We had a car for our entire three weeks but we did NOT go to London. It was not too difficult to get into Bath. We let the Apple Tree folks know that we needed a parking spot and when we pulled up in front, Lynsay came out to get us to it. I would highly suggest that you bring your own GPS and pre-program in the sights you want to see. The GPS will need the international maps module installed. We were very grateful to have it but it is likely all possible via a good map such as Michelin. Enjoy!! (had to post all three comments separately as they were too long for one)

Posted by
1986 posts

Have just returned from a simikar trip to England. We took a train from Paddington to Oxford- the station is on the western edge of town (near a few major raods0 and the major rental cars are clustered right next to each other a short taxi rie away. We found it a little awkward getting back to the Oxford rental car drop off coming back, but got there by just following the signs to the station. Really short drive from Oxford to the Cotswolds. Heatrow to Paddington- Padddington to Oxford is quite easy to do by train