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Bus to Bath from Heathrow or car rental

I have been on the Nationalexpress.com site trying to find a schedule leaving Heathrow - Central Bus Station which is away from Terminal 4, to Bath(spa)at 1800 (6pm). Our flight is scheduled to arrive 4:15 pm June 3. I cannot find anything! One schedule comes up at 13:00 going through Bristol - taking up to 4 hours to arrive Bath. The next time is 2300 arriving on the 4th of June. Am I not looking in the right place. I am getting stressed out trying to get to Bath in the evening. I am "NOW" thinking of renting a car and driving. We were going to rent a car after two days in Bath anyway. Has anyone rented a car from Heathrow airport. I am going to go through Autoeurope and am sure they will have a location there. Has anyone had the experience of driving from London Heathrow to Bath? I need some assurance and help. Thanks.

Posted by
525 posts

Hi Frank, I was trying to not do the bus/train through Reading because of us arriving Heathrow around 4:30 PM. and having to change and wait for a train. Now we are thinking of picking up our rental car at the airport if we can AND if leaving the airport for Bath would be an okay decision. We've driven in Ireland, Paris, Dublin so the traffic doesn't bother us but I don't know the area. We have not been to England before. We are also of thinking about doing our 3 day stay in London starting upon our arrival then spend the last day in London after returning our car rental. We are touring Cotswolds, Cornall and Wales. Any suggestions? Our trip is for 3 weeks.

Posted by
11462 posts

I wouldn't pick up a rental car from Heathrow when you arrive

You'll have just gotten off a flight that lasted more hours than you care to think about. You'll be tired, a little jet lagged, and not 100% up to par. Do you really want to start hassling with a rental car, figuring out the route, and remembering to drive on the other side of the road?

Take the bus to Bath. If you look at the schedules now, you'll see there's a bus at 19:00 (7:00 PM) that arrives about 9:30 PM. I'm sure this will be similar in June. Get to your hotel. Get a good night's sleep. Spend the next day touring Bath. You won't need a car. It's not that big. After that, you can pick up your rental car and start the rest of your tour.

I would not try to return the car in London. The traffic is murder. Return it at one of the major airports--all of which have convenient train service into London.

Posted by
359 posts

Miss B. the National Express website shows regular coach departures LHR to Bath Spa which coincide with your arrival. The times shown today (or next month) will not be too different from those in June. The Bus/Reading train method is slick as well and is my choice going to Bath, but prefer the bus going the other way. When doing your query on N.Express, try entering Heathrow as opposed to London Heathrow in the departure field. A car rented on the way out of Bath is really the way to go. I've done the drive LHR to Bath and with your schedule/itinerary would be a waste of $'s, time and will fray the nerves after just unloading from overseas.

Posted by
658 posts

There is a problem you don't know about. Sure you can hire a car at Heathrow, swing onto the M4 and drive to Bath. That's the easy part. The difficult bit is where do you park it ? Parking spaces in Bath are at a premium and it's a real nightmare, it's one of the most expensive places to park a car in Europe.

I'd be inclined to hop on the coach to Reading ( there's one every 20 minutes or so ) and then either take another coach to Bath or walk over the road to the rail station and hop on a train ( the trains are about 40 minutes apart and take just over an hour ).

If you're intending to set off at around 4:30 pm the coach and train option will be much quicker that the rush hours on the M4. I know from experience that it can take a couple of hours from Heathrow to Reading in a car if the traffic is heavy at Slough or Bracknell ( and it always is at that time of day ).

Posted by
11462 posts

One other reason why I'd take the coach/train over the coach alone.

You'll have just spent lots of hours sitting in your seat on the plane. If you take the coach to Bath, you're looking at another 2 1/2 hours of sitting. Not a lot of room to move.

On the train, you can get up, go to the cafe car, get a cup of coffee or tea, a snack, stretch your legs, etc.

Plus the frequency of the coach/train is higher than the coach alone.

Posted by
525 posts

GREAT information. I didn't think about sitting for more hours after flying for 10 hours. Because of being tired from flying I think we will NOW go into London and stay for two full days then take the train to Bath to spend a day or two BEFORE picking up a rental car to start our two weeks of touring the Cotswolds and Wales.
Ah, didn't think about traffic either but I know it is more money to pick up a car at an airport. I don't want stress on this trip and staying in London for a couple days at the beginning, I believe, is the best way to go. I know some museums are open later in the evening so we could have dinner then walk around. Much nicer thought! Train it is out of London to Bath. What to see in the Cornwall area? Thank you for "opening" my mind and the great information. We just decided a week ago to do this trip in June rather than September. Now waiting to hear from a B&B in London and do more research for a "less" expensive place. I know EVERYTHING is going to be expensive!

Posted by
269 posts

I rented a car at Heathrow and drove my family of 5 to Bath last summer. We rented through Dollar. The rental place was in a hotel on the Ring Road (Bath Road) and we had to take the inexpensive shuttle bus from the Terminal to get to it.
The rental agents gave us directions to the M-4? and it was major highways to Bath, with a stop at Winchester Cathedral and Stonehenge.

We did have a Tom Tom GPS with Europe and Great Britain maps that we purchased in the US and knew how to use well prior to the trip. We set the voice to a British voice, so we had instructions with an English accent "Take the second exit on the roundabout, take the motorway." Plus we had a general country road map for backup.

Driving on the left side takes some getting used too, but we did it fine. We are glad we took the full waiver insurance as we were not used to parallel parking on the left side and put a dent in the tire at the end of our trip.

Posted by
1 posts

We are arriving in Heathrow early on a Saturday morning in May. Our plan was to take the National Express Bus to Bath and then rent a car on Sunday to go to Stonehenge and Salisbury. The Thirfty car rental at the Bath bus station is no longer listed and the Enterprise closes at noon on Saturday before we'll arrive, and is also closed Sunday.

Looks like we'll now have to rent a car in Heathrow which we didn't want to do due to traffic. Is there
somewhere else outside of London like Reading that we could rent and return the car to avoid the Heathrow traffic? Thanks.

Posted by
13225 posts

Chris---how athletic are you? We took the train from Bath to Salibury (takes an hour, if I remember correctly) and then rented bikes to ride to Stonehenge and back (I think it is 11 km each way on a lovely and quiet back road past the Woodford villages). We stopped for lunch along the way at a pub near Middle Woodford. It was a great way to get there and I highly recommend it to anyone who can ride a bike that distance.

(Have to admit I hate renting cars in the UK, and particularly at Heathrow. The one time we did that, it took us forever to find the rental return and we nearly missed our flight.)

Posted by
8700 posts

The Auto Europe site lists their Reading outlet as being open until 13:00 on Saturdays. If you arrive at LHR early enough, you could take the RailAir bus to Reading. Buses run about every 30 minutes on Saturdays.

Posted by
13225 posts

"Once you get to the expressway, you'll be good, especially on a weekend."

Sounds like someone has never been stuck in weekend traffic westbound on the M4.

Posted by
525 posts

My husband and I took the train to Tilehurst next to Reading about 30/45 minutes from London to the rental agency 1car1.(The time depends on whether you take the "fast" train or the "local" train that makes many stops. This is one of the rental agencies ETBD rents from. I think they close at 1300 also. The agency is about 1/2-1 miles down the road. You can walk it in about 15 minutes or can make arrangements to be picked up at the train station. We spoke with a representative in New York for arrangements.
We had no problems with this company. We then drove to Bath sightseeing along the way.
There was a Thrifty car rental at the train station in Bath but more expensive. The other car rental agencies were out of town and you would have to find a way to get to them. We chose the 1car1 as it was more convenient and less money.
We will probably do the same thing on our next trip to England. Happy travels.

Posted by
13225 posts

Thanks for the update---Glad your trip went well.

Today we were actually responding to Chris, who pulled up this old post to tack on a question of his own.