Car rental in London?

Nov 21st, 2004, 06:59 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 10
Car rental in London?

Hi all:

I was looking into car rental from Gatwick, and Hertz quoted me a $92 USD price for the minimum car, $128 with insurance. This seems like a heck of a good deal. What's the downside of car rental in London? Is parking difficult? Do a lot of attractions charge for parking? Is it hard to adjust to driving on the other side of the street? Your insight and suggestions would be very appreciated. Thank you very much!
Cdleebunny28 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 06:59 AM
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To follow up, that's $92 for five days!
Cdleebunny28 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 07:14 AM
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A car in London is more of a liability than a benefit. Parking at attractions or anywhere in LOondon is virtually non-existant . . and expensive when you can find it. The London public transportation is excellent. Traffic is horrible, but not more than most large cities. I beleive you now have to pay a daily fee to drive in central London.

I lived in London for over two years and did not own a car ( subleased my parking slot that came with the flat ) When I wanted to drive outside London I would take the train to Gatwick or Heathrow and rent the car there.

FWIW . . that rate sounds too good to be true.

Enjoy London . . Rich
Rich is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 07:18 AM
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Yeah, I think so too. British Airways website quotes $128 for all four days, but then when I go to Hertz directly, it quotes four times as much. Something's rotten in Denmark.
Cdleebunny28 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 08:51 AM
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got a car in london in may. it took me less than an hour to get used to the other side of the street driving...parallel parking was a hair tricky but still ok. but the gas prices will really kill you in the end. but it really was fun to do. traffic is pretty heavy and there's also a "toll" to go into certain parts of the city.

if staying in london just easy. i got the car to go to cambridge and hindsight i'd train if possible next time. the driving isn't automatic like here, so you will be tired and forced to focus more than you'd like on holiday.
ucsun is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 09:12 AM
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Even if the car were free you do not need it in London. A car is much more of a liability in the city then an asset. Parking is extremely difficult (not alot of places) and parking lots (car parks as they are called)are few and far between and very expensive. Traffic is very bad as well ... frankly I cannot think of any good reason for a tourist to have a rental car in London at all. Public transport is excellent, the tube and/or bus will take you everywhere with a minimum of hassle. We've been to London many times and I would never think about renting a car to drive around in London itself.

If you plan on doing any day trips the trains are great - you can go almost anyplace with no effort at all and the train stations in the "country places" are all close to the sights you would be going to see.

If you plan on several days in the countryside after London then rent a car and pick it up outside London (i.e. airport location or another suburban spot). It would be alot easier on the nerves. Driving on the left takes some getting used to and I don't think the place to practice it is on a London street. Even in the countryside roads tend to be narrow so your concentration is more of an effort I think. The motorways/dual carriageways are fine - but do remember that people drive fast so stay to the side if you are not used to driving on the left.

Lori is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 11:04 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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It is insanity for a visitor to London to rent a car.
"Attractions" do not have parking lots. They are located in the middle of urban areas.
You now have to pay a toll to enter the central part of the city, where most of the "attractions" are. Gas is very expensive.
Street signs are not located where North Americans are used to seeing them. Roads are generally narrower, traffic is heavy. Almost all vehicles are standard transmission. Most people adjust to driving on the left, but all the other factors make it a challenge both mentally, physically and economically.
London has a very efficient public transportation system. Use it.
taggie is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 11:19 AM
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I lived in the UK for several years, travel to London frequently and have driven in London many times -- but even if they PAID me to take a rental car, for the average visit to London I wouldn't take it. Not kidding.

Few hotels have parking, and those that do charge a LOT. Almost no tourist attractions have car parks. Unless you can limit your driving to early Sunday mornings and after 1 a.m. on weekdays (only a SLIGHT exaggeration) you shouldn't be driving in London.

I LOVE driving in the UK in general and know my way around London better than the average tourist -- and I would only hire a car in London if it was some sort of weird emergency situation.

Even if you did manage to learn how to navigate on the "wrong" side of the road in heavy London traffic -- the petrol and parking would cost more than the car rental . . . . . . .
janis is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 11:24 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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Advice from a Londoner. Dont stress yourself out with driving in London. Its not worth risking getting a ticket or two, or clamped or even worse, towed!
It is much much cheaper to buy a zone 1&2 travel card for approx £20. This will give you unlimited travel on the tubes with the zones as well as unlimited bus travel. A rental car for a week inc. insurance, gas, parking fees ect, will cost you in excess of £200. Get on the tubes and buses and retain your sanity. Enjoy you time in London
stork is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 03:03 PM
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If you are just going to be in London, DON'T DO IT!! It will ruin your vacation.

Use the tube and the buses and an occassional taxi if you need to. It will save your sanity.

We normally spend a week in London then a week somewhere else in the UK. We take the tube back out to Heathrow to pick up the rental car for the second week because we don't want to drive in London - even to just drive the car out of town.
Kayb95 is offline  
Nov 21st, 2004, 03:12 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
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I'll chime in with the others. You do not need (or want) a car in London. Take the tube or ride the bus. has a link to info about tube passes, etc.

A car could be a real asset if you wanted to drive the country roads. If you do this, pick the car up on the way out of town and drop it off at the rental agency when you get back to town. That said, you can do some very interesting day trips out of London by train.

I did have a car rental in London once on a business trip. Due to some extra weird circumstances, I changed lodging to a small inn in Windsor, rather than staying in London. I rented a car and drove in to work each day. Parking was provided. If you do decide to get a car and you are from someplace in the states or Canada where the highway lanes are super-wide compared to London, you will do yourself a big favor by renting a tiny car. (Keep in mind most rental cars available will be with manual transmission.) The smaller the car, the easier you will be able to park it. I had no difficulty shifting the car with my left hand. My driving rule was to keep the driver's side to the middle of the road. This thinking also saved me when I got back to the states.

I did not find it difficult to drive on the other side of the street. I found carparks to be more problematic as I would find myself going out the in exit. Really had to focus.
SharonNRayMc is offline  
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