Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Renting Car from Heathrow--should I? (

JES Oct 19th, 2006 08:09 AM

Renting Car from Heathrow--should I?
I'm considering renting a car for 2 days out and into Heathrow to drive to Cotswold.
I have never driven on the left side of the road so I'm nervous about the thought of doing this.
Also, is it easy to get lost going to/from Cotswold?
I would be leaving on a Saturday morning and returning on a Sunday night. How would traffic be?
Are there tolls? How is parking in the Cotswold towns?

emmalee_71 Oct 19th, 2006 09:26 AM

Hi, This shouldn't be too bad. Traffic should be fine on weekends. The roads are quite well posted. You should do this drive in about 2 hrs.
Plenty of parking in Cotswolds unless it's middle of summer. You just have to be patient for a spot.
No tolls. Parking should be free. Try to go to bibury as it's gorgeous.
Bourton on the water is also good fun.
Let me know if you need more info as I have family in the cotswolds.
You will need your wits about you as the country roads get tricky when there are no cars for you to follow. You may find your self drift over. So drink plenty and stay sharp and you will be fine.

JES Oct 19th, 2006 10:10 AM

Thank you...and any advice you can give me would be very much appreciated. Can you recommend a place to stay? On the site you sent, there was only one (adorable) restaurant listed and no stores listed. Is there a downtwon area w/shops and restaurants or is it all rural?
I would love to stay in a farmhouse. I should say that it will be the first weekend in Nov. and I will be solo (in my late 30's).
Thank you!

JES Oct 19th, 2006 10:23 AM

Also, is there an easier way to get here i.e bus or train?

Mimar Oct 19th, 2006 10:33 AM

I assume if you're arriving Saturday morning, it's after an overnight flight. If so, do us all a favor and don't drive when you're sleepy and jetlagged. Remember you'll be driving in a strange car on the wrong side of the road and trying to navigate in an unfamiliar country. Actually I don't find the driving on the wrong side so difficult. But the (non-freeway) roads are narrow and mostly lacking verges/shoulders. Instead, there's a curb or a hedge or a rock wall. So unforgiving. Driving requires more attention than I need in the US.

flanneruk Oct 19th, 2006 10:44 AM

There is an easier way, but it may not let you do what you want to do.

The major train line through the Cotswolds stops at two small Cotswold towns (Charlbury and Moreton in Marsh), where a modest selection of hotels are accessible on foot from the railway station. Both are pretty: both have a wonderful selection of footpaths leading out into the countryside for jolly nice walking: both have a reasonable selection of pubs selling good beer. And that's about it. Personally, if I didn't have a house in the area already, I could think of few more pleasant ways of spending a weekend than meandering the countryside, then getting outside a few pints of real ale in the evening. Possibly ending the weekend by getting off the train back to London and attending Evensong at Christ Church, Oxford (or Vespers at Blackfriars). But that may not be what you're looking for.

There's some public transport from Moreton to other bits of the Cotswolds on Saturday - but not Sunday. And since you don't arrive in Moreton till after 11, it's tricky to get anywhere else and back.

To get the train, the cheapest option is to get the bus to Reading station: the most effortless is to get the Heathrow Express to Paddington and then the Cotswold train from a couple of platforms away.

You can get a bus from LHR to Oxford or Bath: both attractive but neither remotely rural in their feel.

janisj Oct 19th, 2006 10:49 AM

Bibury is lovely - but very small and not much going on in Nov.

As I mentioned on your other thread, seeing the Cotswolds is easier by car. But you do have the issue of driving after a probably exhausting overnight flight. There really isn't an easy solution, since you won't know if you are in good shape, or a zombie until you arrive. If it were me, I'd probably rent a car and then if I was just too tired to drive I'd spend Sat night in Windsor (it is only about 7 miles from LHR). Then early on Sunday a.m. I'd drive up into the Cotswolds.

If I felt great - then I'd drive to someplace like Burford or Stow on the Wold or one of the smaller nearby villages. Being Nov you will be able to find a room in the Cotswolds w/o pre-booking.

(just a hint - you keep mentioning &quot;seeing Cotswold&quot;, or &quot;going to Cotswold&quot; The Cotswold<b>s</b> are a large area, not a single place. &quot;cotswold&quot; is an adjective as &quot;Cotswold village&quot;, or &quot;Cotswold farmhouse&quot;)

flanneruk Oct 19th, 2006 10:50 AM


Mimar's absolutely right. If you're arriving from an overnight flight, you really shouldn't drive. If you're arriving off an overnight flight and you've never driven on the proper side of the road before, driving would be criminally insane.

JES Oct 19th, 2006 11:05 AM

Criminally insane got me. I don't really want to drive anyway! But there seems to be no easy way to get where I want to go (with my luggage--hopefully one roller bag, while I'm tired).

I have been to Windsor and have always wanted to see the Cotswold area (I do know now that it's a large area. It's probably easier to hang out in London, though I've done this many times. Maybe I'll just skip Cotswold until I have more time?

janisj Oct 19th, 2006 11:11 AM

JES: my point about Cotswolds (note the <u>s</u>) vs Cotswold (no <u>s</u>) is you keep using Cotswold as a place - - - - You can't go to Cotswold. You can however, go to <i>the Cotswolds</i>.

Now, w/ all the travel issues, overnight flight etc, flanner's idea of taking the train to Moreton in Marsh (as I suggested on your other thread) is probably the best. You could spend the night there and then the train into Oxford/London Sunday afternoon/evening.

flanneruk Oct 19th, 2006 11:15 AM

Why not get the bus from Heathrow to Oxford? Possibly then a cab from there to Woodstock or Burford? Burford actually is in the Cotswolds: all the prettiness of Bibury, but with a scattering of shops, a decent collection of eateries and pubs, and a glorious parish church.

But a weekend in Oxford's a good break from London, and a few walks along the river make a great antidote to a night on a plane.

JES Oct 19th, 2006 12:06 PM

Thanks for the recommendations. Can you tell me if it's easy to catch the bus at Heathrow (for a bleary eyed person) and how much to expect to spend?

Dukey Oct 19th, 2006 12:14 PM

You are assuming that you will get absolutely no sleep on the plane.

Having just come back from the Cotswolds and having rented a car at Heathrow to get there, I personally think you will be disappointed if you go up there without the use of a car.

If there is one place in GB that cries out for a car IMO it is the Cotswolds.

JES Oct 19th, 2006 12:20 PM

flanner--In suggesting Burford, are you saying that Bibury won't have as much to do?

Also, may sound like a silly question but does anyone know where Bridget Jones (the area of her parents house) was filmed? Someone showed me a photo of it after having gone and it was so beautiful. I remember they did it on a trip to the Cotswolds (thank, janis;) so i'm thinking it would be close.
Dukey, thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately I don't get a lot of sleep on the overnights--especially since I'm flying coach. I wish I did!

mclaurie Oct 19th, 2006 12:43 PM

JES, coming in late to this. Burford is a town with a main street with shops, restaurants, pubs etc. Bibury (where I stayed years ago on my first trip to the Cotswolds) has no town center and no shops. It's just a few hotels/inns, I think a pub and that's it.

There was a woman driver/tour guide that used to get mentioned as an option for people who didn't want to drive in the Cotswolds. Genny from Tourgems

janisj Oct 19th, 2006 12:47 PM

Bibury is basically a tiny (pretty) village w/ two hotels and not much else.

Burford is a larger village w/ several hotels/B&amp;Bs/pubs/shops. But it is nowhere near a &quot;city&quot;. Just a lively village. I usually rent a cottage in/near Burford and I REALLY like it. When I have friends along I usually take them to see Bibury - but we stay in Burford. More to do, more choices of places to eat, and such. And the church is one of the best &quot;Wool chruches&quot; in the Cotswolds.

Moreton-in-Marsh isn't quite as nice - but certainly not bad. It has the advantage of train service.

So If it were me and I only had 1 night/1.5 days, I'd stay 1) in Burford IF I could work out the transport, or 2) Moreton-in-Marsh if I wanted to be on a rail line.

You can get a direct bus from LHR ro Oxford and then bus or taxi out to Burford, or train to Moreton . . . .

mclaurie Oct 19th, 2006 12:49 PM

As an alternative, you can probably find a Cotswold tour from Oxford. No personal experience with these people

It would be easy to get to Oxford from Heathrow and stay there.

janisj Oct 19th, 2006 12:50 PM

Oops - meant to add about B. Jones parents house. It is too far out for you to get to w/o a car. It is in Snowshill which is maybe 10 miles from Cheltenham.

janisj Oct 19th, 2006 12:52 PM

sorry about all they typos in my posts - really SHOULD slow down and preview. But - noooooo :)

JES Oct 19th, 2006 03:00 PM

Thanks for all of the great suggestions.
What are your thoughts on doing all of this on the day I get in? Am I crazy? I wish I had another day built in, but I don't b/c of work.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:09 AM.