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Best car pick-up location outside London?

ivorius007

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We'll be staying a week in London (at Sloane Gardens) and then would like to pick up a rental car to tour the countryside--we'll be staying initially in Staffordshire. I would really appreciate advice on where to pick up the car outside of London as I don't want to deal with London traffic. And I'm wondering what would be the least awkward way to get us and our luggage to the car pick-up location.

Also, where should I look for car rental deals? I checked Expedia and found when I added automatic transmission and a different drop off point, the prices went up substantially.
 
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We'll be staying a week in London (at Sloane Gardens) and then would like to pick up a rental car to tour the countryside--we'll be staying initially in Staffordshire. I would really appreciate advice on where to pick up the car outside of London as I don't want to deal with London traffic. And I'm wondering what would be the least awkward way to get us and our luggage to the car pick-up location.

Also, where should I look for car rental deals? I checked Expedia and found when I added automatic transmission and a different drop off point, the prices went up substantially.

You've really got to narrow that down! There are hundreds of places to rent a car from in the London area and how far out of London do you want to be? London is huge, do you want to avoid driving in central London or the area within the M25?

As for who you rent from, automatics are going to be much more expensive in the UK (and Europe in general) since they are not as common as in the US. Most cars in the UK are manual. You're also going to pay a premium to drop it off a different destination just like anywhere else.
 

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You've really got to narrow that down! There are hundreds of places to rent a car from in the London area and how far out of London do you want to be? London is huge, do you want to avoid driving in central London or the area within the M25?

As for who you rent from, automatics are going to be much more expensive in the UK (and Europe in general) since they are not as common as in the US. Most cars in the UK are manual. You're also going to pay a premium to drop it off a different destination just like anywhere else.

If you have trouble driving a manual shift you may also have trouble driving on the left (especially round abouts). As pointed out above, you are always going to pay extra for an automatic in Europe.

OTOH you can get anywhere you want to go by train/bus/tour or driver. "oh i always rent a car in the USA" Yes, but you are not in the USA. I have been to England several times and I have never rented a car (although I did in Scotland). You are going to have to get a long way out of central London before the driving will be easier and you will still have round-abouts. Consider the train.
 
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SmithOp

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I leave next week for London, then a couple of weeks up country. I booked RT train tickets from London to my destination, then a car at the station with Hertz, they will pick you up at the station. We will be using oyster card to get around in London.

I think you should target the area around your termination in Staffordshire.


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Krystyna

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Car rental/staffordshire

All the other TUG Posters are giving v good advice. I think we need to know where you are going in Staffordshire and then we can give good advice on train travel and which car rental agency you should use. Automatic transmission is what you will be comfortable with but it will cost you. We are v familiar with driving in the UK (originally from there & go back every year) the best car hire agency has to be ENTERPRISE (not sure on drop off charges though) this year we used them for the first time (having had a terrible experience the year before with EuropeCar/Autoeurope @ the York Depot) We can help with train itineraries & agree that you don't want to go anywhere near the M25. Train travel prices are good IF you book ahead of time. We go to our timeshare at Stouts Hill in the Cotswolds and now take the train from London's Paddington station to Swindon (in Wiltshire) and Enterprise picks us up/back to the depot then pick up our car ((1 hr drive or so to SH). Hope the above is helpful to you but you can PM us if you would like but TUGGER POMPEY has always been v helpful from her abode in England.

Krystyna/Richard...Ontario, Canada.
 

Ken555

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Did this a few months ago...train to Bristol, bus to Bristol airport (as it was the only rental location open on a Sunday), rented car, drove thru Wales, drop off at Holyhead. Great trip.

Having tried to rent a car in London many years ago I would never do it again. I asked for a pickup location outside London and they reserved it in Kensington (which, for the uninitiated, is part of the London metro area). Horrible experience.

Take a train toward your first nights destination and arrange to pickup a car en route outside of London. Yes, you'll have to handle your luggage but it's a small price to pay compared to the alternatives.


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ivorius007

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Many thanks

Thanks so much for your very helpful suggestions. I was totally operating in the dark as the last time I was in England was 21 years ago, and I didn't go to London then. I don't even know what the M-25 is! Back then there were only a couple of major motorways, and mostly I stayed on the smaller, country roads.

We will be staying at Wychnor Park which I believe is near Stafford. I had thought we might pick up the car in Watford because it's the farthest out you can get on the Underground. I must admit I had misgivings about trying to negotiate suitcases in/out of a tube station.

I much prefer the idea of going by train. It sounds a lot more civilized. I didn't realize the car rental people would come pick us up at the train station. That makes the train option much more appealing. Should we take the train to Stafford, or is there a better city with more rental car options? Also can we book the train ahead from here or wait and do it in London??

I really appreciate your input. I'm feeling less anxious already about this transfer piece of our trip.
 
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I much prefer the idea of going by train. It sounds a lot more civilized. I didn't realize the car rental people would come pick us up at the train station. That makes the train option much more appealing. Should we take the train to Stafford, or is there a better city with more rental car options? Also can we book the train ahead from here or wait and do it in London??

I really appreciate your input. I'm feeling less anxious already about this transfer piece of our trip.

Depending on when you're going and when you'll be leaving London will have a bearing on the cost of transport and car rental availability.

Having a quick look it would appear your best bet would be to take the Underground from London Victoria to Euston station and from there the train direct to Stafford. London Midland travel this route and you can buy an advanced off peak First Class ticket for £21 (depending on time and day).

http://www.londonmidland.com/tickets-and-fares/tickets-and-fares/advance-tickets/

The journey takes on average 1 hr 40 minutes.

You can also pre-book a hire car with Enterprise (I've used them frequently in the UK both personally and through work and they're very good) whereby you can arrange for them to meet you at the station and they will take you to the rental location to collect your car (complimentary and no need to tip! ;)) Automatic prices are not too horrendous however if you need a seven seater you will struggle to find an automatic.

http://www.enterprise.co.uk/car_rental/home.do

Bear in mind that the Stafford office closes at 6pm during the week and at 12pm on Saturdays, they don't open on Sunday.

This is, in my opinion, a much better option than driving from London with the only hassle being the tube but as it's only a ten minute journey it shouldn't be too bad. Travelling by train in the UK (and Europe) is a totally different experience than in the US and it'll make for a far more pleasant journey than trying to figure your way out of London and battle with the M25 traffic (the M25 is the motorway that circles London).

The drive from Stafford to Wychnor Park should take about 40 minutes via the M6 toll motorway however you could take the more gentle A513 if you're not quite prepared for motorway driving and that should only take a few minutes longer. Driving around the area will be in complete contrast to driving in London unless you're intending to visit the big cities such as Derby, Manchester, Birmingham etc. I would definitely recommend a drive up to the Peak District National Park which should take less than an hour to reach the start of it.
 

ivorius007

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Thanks and sightseeing suggestiosns

This is wonderful. Thanks so much for the very helpful tips and links. Other than the Peak District which sounds very worth visiting/touring what other places would you recommend?

Some of the places I was considering, but not sure they are all within an easy day trip are: Chester, Wedgewood Factory tour, Powis Castle, Chatsworth, Cathedral at Lichfield, Shugborough and Stratford-on-Avon. I just got the National Trust membership (via the Royal Oak Foundation), so we'll be able to go to any National Trust properties in the area that are interesting. (I read some time ago there is another membership which allows one entree to many other places, but can't remember what it's called).
 
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This is wonderful. Thanks so much for the very helpful tips and links. Other than the Peak District which sounds very worth visiting/touring what other places would you recommend?

Some of the places I was considering, but not sure they are all within an easy day trip are: Chester, Wedgewood Factory tour, Powis Castle, Chatsworth, Cathedral at Lichfield, Shugborough and Stratford-on-Avon. I just got the National Trust membership (via the Royal Oak Foundation), so we'll be able to go to any National Trust properties in the area that are interesting. (I read some time ago there is another membership which allows one entree to many other places, but can't remember what it's called).

It depends on what your interests are and who you'll be with as there are so many things to see and do within a reasonable driving distance. Wales is within easy reach and there is some fantastic countryside there along with plenty of castles and ruins. The Cotswolds and the Wye Valley can be reached within 1 1/2 hours.

I really enjoyed the Ironbridge museum which is about 45 minutes from Stafford, http://www.ironbridge.org.uk/ and also Warwick Castle https://www.warwick-castle.com/.

Chatsworth House is in the Peak District so you'll be combining two trips there.

In addition to your National Trust membership I'd also recommend English Heritage Membership. We have both and between them they pretty much cover most of the places of interest in England. You can buy overseas membership for 9 or 16 days.

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/overseas-visitors/
 

ivorius007

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It all sounds wonderful

I really like the idea of going into Wales and glad to hear it's doable in a day trip--I had thought there might be a ridge of mountains we'd have to cross that would make the going hard. Combining Chatsworth and the Peak District on the same day trip sounds like a winner to me.

Thanks for the link to Warwick Castle, I hadn't realized it had so much going on there. Perhaps it could be combined with the Stratford outing.

Also thanks for the link to the English Heritage site. That was the one I meant. I checked out their properties today and they have a number in London that look really interesting, especially Apsley House which I think is very close to Sloane Gardens. I was excited to discover they are doing a Regency re-creation while we are there that I particularly want to see. I'm a big Jane Austen fan. It will be like stepping back into one of her novels. The way I read the explanation of the overseas visitor card, it looks like we can wait and buy it there, so we'll have some time to decide if the 9 or 16 day pass makes more sense.

I really appreciate your help. I plan to take lots of pictures and share a report of our adventures when I get back which will hopefully be helpful to other TUGGERS.
 

Jimster

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warwick castle

Warwick castle is very interesting. You can even take the train and walk to the castle. It is only a few blocks from the train. I did Warwick Castle and then overnighted in Stratford although in stratford i did a tour bus from the hotel. All is doable on the train or car.
 
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