Please sign in to post.

Rental Car for Cotswolds and Lake Country

My husband and I will be visiting England in the spring. Part of our travel outside of London will be by train, but we plan to rent a car for the Cotswolds and Lake Country. Although my husband has driven in Great Britain before, he is not comfortable with it, and would like to keep the pick-up and drop-off as simple as possible (maybe at a train station that's not in the middle of the city). We've been to both Bath and York so are looking for a different venue, perhaps Oxford? Any opinions or advice on a relatively "easy" town to pick up the car which would be convenient to the Cotswolds?
We welcome and thank you for your advice.

Posted by
714 posts

Oxford is a good choice if you are going to the Cotswolds first and it is very easy to reach by train from London. Tt is also a pleasant place to spend a day or two. Will you be going to London first and then to the Cotswolds? Are you planning on taking the car to the Lake District after the Cotswolds or returning it to Oxford after the Cotswold trip and taking the train north? You might prefer to return the car up north and take the train back to London thus saving a bit of driving time. Sounds like a nice trip - have fun!

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, Lesley, for your response. Yes, we will be spending time in London before the Cotswolds and Lake Distric. Oxford is appealing to us since we would like to visit there, but wonder specifically if the rental agencies are in the middle of a busy area since my husband does not relish the thought of jumping into a car and driving on the "wrong side" of the road in heavy traffic. In other words, a nice calm place would be perfect for getting started. (And he is an excellent driver, just doesn't look forward to driving on the left).

Posted by
714 posts

Google car rentals in Oxford. It lists all the car rental companies in the city and the map shows you where the station is. Thrifty car rental, for example is on the edge of town, quite close to the station. But if you were staying in Oxford for a couple of days you would probably not want the car during that time - its a walking city. You might also look at Swindon or Cheltenham as well. Again google car rental and the name of the town and you will get all the info you need. Swindon is an industrial town, not really in the Cotswolds but it is close to Cirencester which is a very interesting town with Roman roots - still some remnants of Roman walls and the ampitheatre; a nice high street with an interesting old church and a wonderful museum full of Roman mosaics. Also if time allows a visit to the ruins of Chedworth Roman villa is interesting - remains of baths and other buildings in a lovely setting. You might also google the Automobile Association - this is the UK version of the AAA; they have books similar to the AAA guides as well as beautifully illustrated coffee table books of places to visit. Oh, and the National Turst website is a useful tool for planning.

Posted by
10 posts

Many helpful suggestions which I shall look into, Lesley. Once we figure out the car rental, shall be easier to plan our itinerary. Will probably use the car for about a week and then we'll have another week or so to travel to the larger cities by train. Thanks for your help!

Posted by
51 posts

My husband and I were in the Cotswolds and Lake District last month.
We took the train from marylebone in London to Banbury. I don't know if Banbury is actually in the Cotswolds but if it isn't it is very close. We rented from Enterprise in Banbury. We told them in advance what time our train was to arrive so they knew when to pick us up. Banbury is a small town which was good because it was our first time driving on the left. We drove up to the Lake District; I think it was around five hours including a stop for lunch. It was primarily on the M6 which wasn't any different than driving on any other interstate. If you drive the interstates in Austin you would do just fine. We returned the car in Penrith. They took us to the train station which was just a mile or so away. We then took the train to Euston in London. Penrith is very small.

Posted by
10 posts

Janet, that sounds like it could very well work for us since it involves picking up and dropping off in small towns which we would prefer. We will definitely look into those locations. Thanks so much!

Posted by
337 posts

We dropped off a rental car in Oxford. Thrifty is out of the city center, but there is a huge tangle of roads and interchanges around all of Oxford. Of course you won't get too far lost, but everything comes at you very quickly and it's hard to make quick decisions if you get flustered easily. We both had headaches by the time we were done! Banbury might be worth checking out. Penrith is a perfect small town for the other end.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks, Stacy, for another personal experience and recommendation. Much appreciated! Sally

Posted by
11 posts

We have rented a car in Oxford for two years in a row. We rented from Auto Europe who has an office in the outskirts of Oxford. Getting out of the city was fairly easy. Be sure to get a GPS. Drove to the Cotswolds in less than an hour. We took the Oxford Bus from Heathrow to Oxford then taxi to the rental agency. Cost for taxi about $10. If you stay in Oxford(highly recommend) be warned most hotels and B&Bs require a minimum of two nights.

Posted by
10 posts

Very helpful information, Sylvia. We really appreciate all the suggestions we've received for picking up a rental car away from all the hustle and bustle and convenient to the Cotswolds. No decision yet, but hope to once we've firmed up our itinerary.

Posted by
1986 posts

Sally I have just posted the following on another question: Have just returned from a similar trip to England. We took a train from Paddington to Oxford- the station is on the western edge of town (near a few major raods) and the major rental cars are clustered right next to each other a short taxi ride 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.
Picking up car at Oxford is relatively simple- getting back i found a little tough. You may want to pick up in Oxford and drop off after lake district The comment above about a tangle of roads around Oxford is true-the rental cars are barely half a mile from a 'tangle' of limited access "A" roads- but va little cross country or via Woodstock from these major roads will get you into heart of Cotswolds in relatively few miles... just need a good map reader My personal preference is Guildford or Reading- many rental cars will pick you up at the station.

Posted by
503 posts

Hi Sally, I did this trip last May. We took the train from London to Oxford. We took a taxi to Auto Europe car rental which, as others have said, is located just outside of the town and not too far from the train station. We then traveled to the Cotswolds for a week and returned the car to Oxford. I had never driven in England before and did not find it too stressful to drive in and out of Oxford. We rented a GPS for the car and simple followed the instructions. Have fun, we loved it.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you, all, for taking the time to offer the many helpful suggestions. With my husband still being uneasy about driving on the left, we're wondering if we should even rent a car and instead use public transportation.(He still remembers the stress he felt when driving a few years ago in Ireland). We realize that we would be somewhat limited but wonder if we plan ahead if it would be doable. If any of you have experiences using public transportation in the Cotswolds and Lake District we would love to hear about them. Fortunately our trip isn't until May which gives us time to work this dilemma out. Thanks so much for any input!

Sally

Posted by
1064 posts

This matter appears to be settled, but I recall that when a similar question came up a while back, some posters suggested taking a city bus from downtown to the Oxford airport on the northern edge of town. I have tried the search function but cannot open the links, so I have not been able to track it down. As I recall, those suggesting renting a car in Kidlington described it as a less stressful place for a new arrival to get used to driving in Britain before tangling with heavy traffic and tangled streets downtown. That may be what Lisa was referring to, but the description is not clear. Anyway, has anybody had experience renting at Kidlington? If so, how did it work out?