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Hire cars - London

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We (self, wife and 3 kids - 20,18 & 16) will be in London for a few days at beginning of December, and are planning one day out in the countryside.
Based on some recommendations here and other places we are looking to hire a car, drive to Windsor Castle, then up through the countryside to Oxford for a look around, before returning to London.

Looking for advice on best places to hire / pick-up cars. Heathrow is the obvious, since it is adjacent to Windsor, and then easy access on to the roads to / from Oxford. This would require an early morning commute out to Heathrow (probably Tuesday 7th December), and I'm wondering if Fodorites know of a more logical place that would get us in the car and on the road sooner, but not also involve a slow crawl through London traffic before really starting our journey.

I realise there is also the chance of snow and unpleasant driving conditions , but I did manage those conditions in Virginia a couple of years ago, when I also had to adjust to sitting in the "wrong" side of the car and driving on the "wrong" side of the road, while also trying to look around and take photos - with quick stops - to show the family who I had left at home in Australia.

Thanks,

Rob

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