Serviced apartments are normally an option considered by long-stay visitors rather than tourists or holidaymakers.
Part one of this double feature will give general pointers. Part two will then reveal the options reviewed by guests as London’s best.
There is no reason today why serviced apartments should be considered the poor cousin of hotels, particularly in the current economic downturn.
Indeed many are managed by hotel companies, offering you the “best of both worlds”. Here are some pros and cons to consider:
Advantages of serviced apartments in London
- “More space for your money”. There is no doubt that serviced apartments offer great value on a per squared metre basis, often cheaper than a similar standard of hotel accommodation.
- “Freedom”. A serviced apartment lets you more easily cook or bring back your own meals and drinks, a godsend for many.
- “Feeling local”. There is a psychological benefit to having an apartment and it can really help you get under the skin of a city like London. This can be felt in as little as 5 days.
- “Better for longer stays”. Many businesspeople on an extended assignment prefer a serviced apartment for obvious reasons.
- “More flexible”. Certainly when compared to a long-term apartment, which in London is often subject to a minimum six-month contract.
The downside of serviced apartments in London
- Lack of time-saving hotel services. Hotels usually provide everything you might need (cleaning, laundry, etc.). Having said that, many serviced apartments also bundle in extra services e.g. use of a gym.
- Information. Nothing can replace a good hotel concierge when you need last-minute theatre tickets or priceless information.
- That hotel “flourish”. The best hotels in London provide an extra flair and “feel-good” factor in their service, something you may miss in a serviced apartment.
- Uncertainty. Sometimes you’re not sure what will be provided in a serviced apartment (e.g. Soap?). This can be very inconvenient.
On balance, though you might pay around 20% less for a serviced apartment than a similar hotel in the area (beware as it isn’t always cheaper!), your choice depends on how far you value a hotel’s “extras”.
Here is some important information to consider when looking for a serviced apartment in London:
- You may have more bargaining power booking direct with the provider.
- Visit Britain has a system of accreditation for serviced apartments. Ratings are explained here.
- Find out the cost of extras before booking e.g. telephone, laundry, etc.
- Check the policy on what you might assume as “basics” e.g. soap, shampoo, towels, cleaning frequency, etc. Some so-called serviced apartments in London provide only minimal service.
- Be fussy about the specific apartment you are given. Don’t trust generic or website photos.
- Check reviews…some very basic apartments in London are being advertised as “luxury apartments”. Take care!
In the second part of this feature, we’ll give you specific options to help choose the best-value serviced apartments in London.