Apartment Living


4 May 2010

Apartments

Apartments offer an alternative to hotels at a competitive price. Room service may not be daily but unlike hotels and B&B’s you can cook your own meals and in many cases have access to laundry facilities. If you share with others all of this can cut your daily living costs. Surprisingly a self-catering apartment can be booked for as short as one day. This is certainly worth a look-see. For as long as I have been visiting London I have never stayed at an apartment (other than friend’s homes) and I am pursuing this for a future visit.

Offers

Apartments offer amenities that are not found in hotels such as fully equipped kitchens and in-room laundry. However what is offered can vary greatly and one must decide if the service and location fit your bill. Having a kitchen would be a big-ticket item. Some kitchens do not have ovens and microwaves may be optional. You can find an apartment with in-room or on-site laundry service and some offer laundry service at an extra charge. The key to apartments is that they offer competitive rates with no long-term commitment. They may be more comfortable than hotels but be aware that some may be no better than a hotel. You need to see if one meets your needs. I recommend an Internet search on this.

One vendor offers a mobile phone rental. It is free but you are charged for outgoing calls. Look for American voltage sockets at some. Maid service varies from daily to weekly. Linen and towels are not usually changed other than once a week. This seems typical from what I have seen.

Apartments may be better suited than hotels if you have children. Inquire if this applies to you. Check to see if there is staff 24/7 and what security measures are in place.

One provider mentioned that they had a two-person lift. Small as that sounds it beat the one-person lift in my Paris hotel.

Find out if the hotel or apartment is going to charge your card upon reservation or when you check out. This varies among hotels. Prices vary greatly and area has a lot to do with cost. Still, comfortable rooms and services are a key factor.

Cost

Apartments can cost the same as a hotel so you need to figure if they fit your needs. You may not have new sheets everyday (like you do at home?) but you could be charged for weekly linen changes. Other services may be charged as well. I found one asking for a 1.7% surcharge for using Visa and MasterCard and a 4.2% surcharge for using American Express. Payment was expected at sign-in. Once again, when you inquire ask for what you get and what you pay for.

Caution

No, nothing sinister, but keep an eye open when reading the information on an apartment’s website. The location of reception (front desk, so to speak) and the actual location of the building your room is in may be different. This is uncommon but I have seen this published. You also need to collect and return your keys, which is not simply a drop off box in the lobby.

Apartments are subject to a clean-out fee, as they need to be restored for the next renter. Unlike a hotel where one can cancel with full refund, an apartment may not offer a refund if the apartment cannot be let to another renter.

Remember that you are renting an apartment and not staying in a hotel. Your legal rights and responsibilities may be different. A security deposit is required and damage fees can occur. In addition to all of this be aware that you do not get room service. Typically your apartment will be cleaned and linen changed once a week.

Operators

I do not have any association with these companies but list them to get you started. Do your Google search and check out the area of the hotel. See:
www.central-london-apartments.com
www.homefromhome.co.uk