London car rental question

Apr 5th, 2011, 08:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 159
London car rental question

Hello, I am trying to decide on whether to pick up a car for a 3 week rental at either Victoria Station or Heathrow. My plane arrives Sat Jul 2nd at 7 AM and we will be staying at the Rubens that night, and then hire a car the next day(Sunday) and drive into East Sussex to Rye. The hotel is very close to VIctoria Station but I keep reading that driving in London and adjusting to the differences is not the smartest option for a first time driver adapting to opposite side of road, steering, and manual shift. Best to take a train back to Heathrow? London City Airport? If it were not a Sunday I would simply take the train east and hire a car somewhere else but the rental agencies seem to be closed on Sundays in most locations. I'm not sure how "congested" Victoria Station is so am looking for advice. Seems awfully convenient so close to Rubens at the Palace. Thanks!
ancestralvoices is offline  
Apr 5th, 2011, 08:27 PM
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You don't want to drive in London if you can avoid it.
bettyk is offline  
Apr 5th, 2011, 08:59 PM
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For your itinerary I wouldn't collect the car at Victoria, and definitely not at Heathrow.

Take the train from Victoria to Gatwick and collect your car there.
janisj is online now  
Apr 5th, 2011, 10:29 PM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 257
If you aren't used to the left-hand side of the road I concur with the others.

However, I'm picking up from Victoria myself for a week's rental, dropping at Stansted. I've checked that the pickup is just outside the congestion tax zone, so that is not a problem provided I don't drive back into it (see

As an Aussie I drive on the left, same as the UK. But I've picked up in Paris, Barcelona, LA and New Orleans on the wrong side of the road

My advice is to take it easy the first day, don't plan a long trip that day. When in doubt slow down and watch carefully despite the possible honks from the rear.

The two most difficult things to come to grips with are turns at intersections (right for you, left for me) because that is when you are most likely to forget and end up on the wrong side of the road; and driving with yourself too far to the left on the lane. You're used to having 6 feet of car on the right of your driving seat, not your left. I would be happily thinking I'm leaving lots of clearance for on-coming drivers while my wife in the passenger seat was watching the telephone poles and pedestrians whizz inches past her mirror.
Trav_Eller is offline  
Apr 5th, 2011, 10:32 PM
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It's far, far easier to get a train to Gatwick from Victoria if you're at the Rubens than to tube/DLR out to LCY. Getting onto the motorway system at LCY can confuse some people too. Heathrow's in completely the wrong direction

London's an extraordinarily easy city to drive in - with infinitely better behaved other drivers than New York's emotionally incontinent morons in whose endlessly expressed frustration over nothing makes the place so intolerable. Its traffic is rarely congested.

But navigating the centre is challenging for those unused to cities that have been allowed to develop organically, and especially so for people used to driving on the wrong side. Best left till next time
flanneruk is offline  
Apr 6th, 2011, 07:04 PM
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Thank you, all, for your responses. Since asking the question I have booked the rental through Autoeurope at Gatwick. Also did not cost more for drop off in York 16 days later.

Flanneruk, I have driven in New York and, to be honest, rather enjoyed it! One almost feels compelled to 'hurry'! Kind of fun. "emotionally incontinent morons" (I'm going to use this expression!). Ha. Thanks.
ancestralvoices is offline  
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