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Car Services

Pauline Kenny

We usually get a car service to pick us up after an overseas flight. This lets us avoid driving in a new country when tired and gives us that extra bit of comfort at the start of a trip.

In England, the car services are expensive. You may want to check out transportation from the airport by bus or train. Find out if you have to go into London to change buses or trains because this can add more time to the trip.

London Airports to the Center of London

If you fly into Gatwick, you can take the train into the center of London. From Heathrow, you can take the underground. You can also arrange for a car service to pick you up at either airport and take you straight to your hotel. The latter is more expensive, but the driver meets you on the arrivals level when you come out of customs and takes you and your luggage to the car and delivers you right to your hotel or apartment.

London Airports to the Countryside

If you fly into London, but plan to head straight to your vacation rental, consider having a car service meet you at the airport and take you to your vacation rental, instead of picking up your rental car and driving yourself. Many rental car companies have an airport pickup surcharge (a percentage that applies to the whole rental price). Instead of renting at the airport, you can pick up a rental car locally. We did this on our April 2000 and September 2004 trips, and it worked well for us, but car service rates are high, making this an expensive option.

In April 2000, we paid £100 for a local Stroud company to meet us at Gatwick and drive us to Stroud. We were quoted £190 for the trip from Gatwick to Bath by the same company for September 2004. Instead of using them, I searched for Bath car service companies and came up with rates of £120, £140 and £160 for Gatwick to Bath. I booked with the agency with the £140 rate. See Travel Notes - Bath Practical Tips for more information.

This is still very expensive, but I had booked our flight and our accommodation in Bath without realizing this. Another option would be to take the train or a bus to Bath, but both required changing in London and we decided to splurge on the car service.

In May 2005, we paid £75 for a local car service to drive us from Heathrow to Salisbury. See Travel Notes - Salisbury Practical Tips for more information.

How to Find Car Service Companies

It works best to find a local company in the town you are going to. Use the Internet to search. For example, for our September 2004 trip, I searched on "car service Bath" and found local companies that do airport pickups. Another term to search on is "chauffeur". You might also ask your booking agent or local owner for recommendations. Tourist information sites usually list local car services.

When booking with a car service, check the following:

  • Ask if the rate includes VAT. Usually it does, but ask to be sure because this can add another 17%.
  • Ask if they require payment in cash or do they take credit cards.
  • Get a cell phone number that you can call when you arrive in case the driver is not there. Give them your cell number if you will have a cell phone.
  • Make sure they know the number of people and suitcases, so they know the size of car to bring.

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AutoEurope: www.autoeurope.com
Transfer and Chauffeur services from airports into London.

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