Is there a car hire place open on Sundays on the outskirts of London?
September 9, 2011 2:33 AM   Subscribe

Where on the outskirts of London with easy access to a tube station and the M1 can I hire a car that lets me return it on Sundays?

Am travelling from London to a few villages off the M1 and planning on hiring a car. I am not familiar with the region and don't want to drive through London traffic. I would rather take the tube to a location on the outskirts where I can hire a car. I was thinking of Edgware. But all the car hire places I've looked at near there seem closed on Sundays, and I really need the car until Sunday afternoon (can't return it Monday because I have an early flight Monday morning - from London City airport, so I don't want to drive there either).

Does anyone know a solution?
posted by lollusc to Travel & Transportation around London, England (21 answers total)
You might consider Streetcar.

Never used it myself, but their map is showing quite a few cars in that part of London.
posted by mattn at 3:02 AM on September 9, 2011

Response by poster: I think Streetcar would work out to be a lot more expensive. There's an annual fee, which is not practical, since there is no Streetcar in my city at home, and then it's still about 50 pounds a day to use a car. I need it for 8 days, and the other car hire places prices are more like around 150 pounds total.
posted by lollusc at 3:12 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pretty much every car rental agency will have designated parking sports where you can leave the car and a secure dropbox for the carkeys in case you need to return it in the middle of the night or, as in your case, on a Sunday.
posted by halogen at 3:18 AM on September 9, 2011

A few rental places I've used have let me drop off the car on a Sunday at a closed office - with drop-boxes for the cars' keys. It'd be worth asking at the places in Edgware you were considering.

A sub-optimal alternative might be to take public transport out to Luton Airport, and rent from there...
posted by misteraitch at 3:19 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, most places let you drop the car off on a Sunday, you put the keys in the drop box. Downside is you don't get to check the car over with them, and anything that happens between you dropping it off and them checking it over is your responsibility.
posted by ComfySofa at 3:22 AM on September 9, 2011

Have you considered getting a main line train out of Kings Cross to somewhere north of the city? Potters Bar or Stevenage maybe?
posted by hardcode at 3:31 AM on September 9, 2011

Actually, misteraitch's suggestion of Luton Airport isn't a bad idea. The Thameslink is pretty fast and frequent from St Pancras, it wouldn't take you any longer than rattling out to Edgware on the northern line, and airport car hire places are open on Sundays, aren't they?
posted by ComfySofa at 3:36 AM on September 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Luton idea is the way forward.
posted by Optamystic at 4:23 AM on September 9, 2011

Resident of north London here. Might your best bet be picking up the car from a car rental place near Kings Cross (e.g. Europcar, open Sunday) and connecting with the M1 from there?

I'm speaking from local knowledge so the route appears straightforward to me, but I think that on a Sunday it shouldn't be too difficult for a non-local.

(Basically follow the A1 through Islington)
posted by bright cold day at 4:25 AM on September 9, 2011

Or the Luton idea.
posted by bright cold day at 4:38 AM on September 9, 2011

Seconding the Luton idea. Recently had to hire a van on a Saturday morning, drive t'up north and return it Sunday night and ended up doing it from Stanstead airport. Absolute piece of cake.

Luton airport is about 44 mins from Kings Cross.
posted by fatfrank at 5:20 AM on September 9, 2011

I use an Avis with a dropbox for out of hours keys 2 mins walk from Bletchley rail station, which in turn is 5 mins drive from the M1.

That doesn't give you tube access - your best best for tube + M1 proximity is quite possibly going to be Watford, but I can't vouch for the convenience of any car hire places for the rail stations there.
posted by bifter at 5:55 AM on September 9, 2011


Euston > Bletchley is about 40mins and probably no more than £20 for a flexible return over multiple days.

You have the advantage (assuming you're going north) of picking up the M1 north of the bit with all the roadworks, that can grind to a halt even on a Sunday if there's an accident (which there frequently is). Luton is at the start of those roadworks.
posted by bifter at 5:57 AM on September 9, 2011

We recently returned from the UK and rented a car in the Kings Cross/Euston area (Southampton Row Hertz specifically). We searched for cars on expedia and found this to be the most reputable company with the best (by far) rates. We were staying very close to Harrow on the Hill which was close to the M1 but more importantly a very easy drive from Euston area along the Westway/A40. We looked at some of the rental places closer to NW London but they were considerably more expensive which really didn't work for us. The Hertz where we rented was open 7 days a week and despite being in a busy area of London was quite easy to find our way in an out of. One note to you if you are from North America...we brought our TomTom with us only to find it didn't work in the UK. Well, it worked, it was just that our model did not have UK or European maps on it. We ended up using a 1995 version of the London A-Z to figure out how to get to where we wanted to be - not that slick but it did work for us.
posted by YukonQuirm at 6:23 AM on September 9, 2011

Be aware of the congestion charges you may face for driving in certain areas of London. I believe they are about 10 pound per day.
posted by YukonQuirm at 6:26 AM on September 9, 2011

Be aware of the congestion charges you may face for driving in certain areas of London. I believe they are about 10 pound per day.

... but not on Sundays

(and it's nowhere near the M1, but note that the zone skirts the south side of Kings' Cross, if you do end up taking that option.)
posted by bright cold day at 8:37 AM on September 9, 2011

Sorry, borked my "Sundays" link.
posted by bright cold day at 8:38 AM on September 9, 2011

The one time I ended up driving a rental car in England all by my lonesome (without my usual navigator in the passenger seat - she missed the trip due to emergency gall bladder surgery) I somehow got caught up in the flow of traffic while approaching London (my plan was to turn in my car at one of the locations near an outer-edge Tube station and then take the Underground into the city) and suddenly I'm passing Buckingham Palace and Madame Tussaud's and Marble Arch and you name it. It was literally like Chevy Chase in European Vacation. Trying to read the various directional signs while minding the crazy congested jaw ached from clenching my teeth. Hours later I managed to get back on a motorway (I think it was the M25) and had every intention of going straight to Heathrow, abandoning that stupid car with its manual steering (why had I never learned how to parallel park??) and just catching the next plane home. However, I ultimately ended up at the Hatton Cross Tube Station, which isn't too far from Heathrow. They had an actual parking lot (hurray!) and a shuttle bus service to the nearby branch of my car rental agency. I don't know if it was because it was so near to Heathrow, but the rental place was still open at 11:30PM, so chances are they are open on Sundays, too. Oh, and the lady at the car rental counter was ever so sweet; apparently my agitation showed on my face because she implored me to "Please sit and have a cup of tea before you leave. Please, it's on the house!" Anyway, I know Hatton Cross is on the opposite end of the map from Edgware, but check the map - there must be a way to get there from where you'll be approaching without having to drive through the City. Good luck!
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:13 AM on September 9, 2011

Not sure where you're staying but I had to fly out of LCY a few times last autumn and I drove down and parked because that was the only way I was going to be on my Monday morning flight and coming off the M25 that was a really easy journey in terms of orientation - all well signed main roads. So if you're uncomfortable leaving a car in a car park on Sunday and put keys in a box don't discard the option to hire a car from LCY and return it there on Monday morning.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:08 AM on September 9, 2011

Response by poster: Hmm, the Luton option seems like a pretty good solution, but it's still a fair bit more expensive than taking the tube anywhere (there's two of us, so once train tickets get to be 15 pounds or more each way, we're looking at a significant extra cost). The drop-box might be the way to go. I was trying to book the car online and I couldn't find any that would give me the option of booking one to return on Sundays, which made me think just dropping off the keys wouldn't be an option, but it's good to hear that it often is, so I'll just wander in in person and not try to book in advance.

The LCY option is not only a problem because of the traffic TO the airport, but also because in order to get there in time for my flight on Monday, I'll probably need to stay in a London hotel on Sunday night, and then I'd have to worry about parking and navigating through London and so on.

So I think I'll try the drop box thingy, but thanks for the input, everyone!
posted by lollusc at 1:15 PM on September 9, 2011

Response by poster: Yes, we ended up taking the tube to Edgware and getting a car from Europcar. They had no problem with a Sunday return, except that you can't book it over their website, and their in-person prices are not as good as their online ones (although they discounted it a little when we complained about that). Seeing the traffic around, we were glad not to be driving through central London at all.
posted by lollusc at 7:59 AM on September 10, 2011

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