Living like a local (sort of) in London

Nov 18th, 2014, 09:34 PM
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Living like a local (sort of) in London

Hi, all,

Now that we've decided to stay in London, I am looking at apartments. I have a tenuous grasp of London areas, and think that South Kensington, Knightsbridge, and Westminster suit our tastes (residential, quiet, near transport ... some might say stodgy. We rented a condo on Maui once that we really liked a lot and a TripAdvisor reviewer complained that the complex was boring and full of old geezers. Ah, well.)

That being said, I have found this apartment not in any of those places:

Would appreciate input on not only the location of this particular property but also my perceived preferred areas.

I issue a blanket thank you for your patience as I muddle through this!
purduegrad is offline  
Nov 18th, 2014, 10:25 PM
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South Kensington would an attractive place because it is surrounded by historical places. Citadine Apartment is the most preferred place to stay in
abivillanueva is offline  
Nov 18th, 2014, 11:16 PM
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You need to read the website carefully.

" just off the New King’s Road, a short walk from the bustling Fulham Broadway and Parson’s Green"

Now try to find that location on Google Maps.

Nowhere in London is any real distance from bus or tube stops. No flats in Central London are outside what we call residential areas - but then we don't have residential ghettoes, except in Bayswater: wherever you are, there'll be offices and shops. Nowhere in Central London is noisy: the London Roar provides white sound to mask most noise, and our drivers don't pollute the world with obsessive use of horns.

So your description applies to almost anywhere inside the Circle Line.

Parson's Green is a fine place to live - but it most certainly isn't "the most desirable postcode in London" (note that the actual postcode seems to be kept secret).

Even us walking addicts wouldn't call it "within easy reach, either by foot or bicycle, from Sloane Square." And no visitor should even dream of using bikes anyway.

The flat's in the kind of pleasant neighbourhood most of us used to commute into town from back in the days the inner suburbs like Fulham were affordable for flat-sharers in their first few years of work. It's not a quick commute for most: most houses (from the light, your flat looks like a basement garden flat in a normal converted Edwardian house) are at least ten minutes from the tube stations, though often a lot nearer bus stops. Buses into the centre, though frequent, involve an agonisingly slow crawl along Kings Road. Most of which is a mile or two east of most of New Kings Road.

Nothing necessarily wrong with any of that (except that the copywriter comes dangerously close to outright lies) But it's not really practical for spending daytime sightseeing, going home to change and shower than going back into town to bop the night away (which isn't how Londoners conduct their lives).

Holidays in ordinary houses in big cities can easily get uncomfortable, because most people's daily lives aren't organised the way most of us want to organise our holidays, so few people have houses ten minutes' walk from major opera houses or Michelin-starred restaurants. The key criteria you need to decide in London (and the same applies to New York) are:

- how essential it is for you to spend your days and evenings in the same part of town
- how comfortable you're going to be with at least 30 min each way commutes (a 15 min tube journey is AT LEAST 30 mins door to door)
- whether you can afford rents closer in
flanneruk is offline  
Nov 18th, 2014, 11:44 PM
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Stadium Street is a long way from the underground. Very nice residential area, lots of antique shops, quite a few restaurants, but not so convenient for a tourist.

South Kensington, Notting Hill, Bloomsbury, even Bayswater that Flanner dislikes, are much better locations.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 12:23 AM
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I'm with flanner on this one. Look up "Stadium Street" on Google Maps or any internet mapping service, and you'll see how far from public transport it is. This isn't Parsons Green, it's Lots Road.

I was brought up on that side of London, indeed my mother was school secretary at the primary school round the corner from this flat. In those days it was still a last relic of industrial/working-class London, more Fulham than Chelsea, but now it's well and truly gentrified. There used to be a power station for the Underground on the riverside near here, but that is now being redeveloped into the usual upmarket residential conversion, so there might be some construction traffic around the main streets.

But the main problem is that it's quite a commute, in London terms, to where you're likely to want to get to. In that sense, you would indeed be living like a Londoner, but if you're only here for a short time, you would pretty soon get to resent the effort and time involved. It's not a total dead spot for public transport, but it is inconvenient: you'd to walk to Imperial Wharf on the Overground line, then change at West Brompton to the District Line; or get the C3 bus up to Earls Court tube station. Either way, a good fifteen minutes before you even get on the tube.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 12:30 AM
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Posts: 10,298 would definitely be too far of a commute for my tastes. I would look for something more Central - inside the circle line is a good guide...
jamikins is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 08:23 AM
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Thanks very much. I was suspecting as much, but after reading the glowing descriptions of the prime locations of 50 apartments (and without the benefit of actual addresses to use as reference), I was becoming overwhelmed.

So, I sorely needed help.

I will continue the search!
purduegrad is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 10:32 AM
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It's a nice website, but the descriptions of the neighbourhoods are odd.

A house in Greyhound Road is called a Notting Hill family house; 'come and be enchanted by the hidden gems that are Westbourne Grove and Kensal Green'. Even in estate agent language that is not Notting Hill. And Westbourne Grove is hardly a hidden gem.

This property is 100 metres from Kensal Rise Tube, and they describe the neighbourhood like this:
"Perhaps window-shop your way down Marylebone Road before taking a left to come to the gorgeous Regent’s Park. The magnificent Kensington Gardens, where your neighbours Prince William and Kate reside in the Palace, and Hyde Park - a mere seven minute stroll away"

The prices look good though, but check the locations carefully.
Tulips is offline  
Nov 19th, 2014, 10:57 AM
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>>Westminster suit our tastes (residential, quiet, near transport ... some might say stodgy . . . <<

The "City of Westminster" is quite large -- covers a HUGE part of central London. However what most consider 'Westminster' isn't residential (mostly). Westminster generally means the area around Parliament/Westminster Abbey, Government offices and just a bit west of there.

Knightsbridge tends to be VERY high end -- that is where Harrods and Harvey Nicks are - some very posh properties, but not what could be called quiet residential for the most part.

Most areas of central London are a true mix - Some middle of the road, some posh, some VERY posh, some shops, some offices, some tourist attractions.

The highest priced neighborhoods in general are Knightsbridge and Mayfair though there are very expensive areas most anywhere. What is your budget?
janisj is online now  
Nov 20th, 2014, 04:10 AM
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Tulips underlines a general point here. NEVER trust the vendor's descriptions - or naming - of a general neighbourhood - that's all too elastic. Look for something much more exact in the way of a locator - ideally a postcode, or at least the nearest tube station(s) - and cross-reference them against some of the websites that are focussed on residents, rather than trying to sell to tourists.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Nov 20th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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Thanks again!

As your answers show, there's a lot to learn, and (as you also point out) relying on vendors' websites isn't all that helpful. Most have only a glowing area description, or (better) a Google map with a little house pasted near a spot. I look at those and see the nearest tube station, but I know that all areas near tube stations can't be created equal, but have no basis of knowledge of exactly what's what(obviously).

My budget would be hopefully no more than $300 USD/night (DH would prefer way less that ... but he needs to get a grip on reality here).

I have looked at a number of agency websites, including VRBO/HomeAway, OneFineStay, LondonConnection, Coach House London, A Place Like Home-London, and this IvyLettings that I came across. The problem isn't a dearth of options, but rather the exact opposite. The ones that I really like are catastrophically expensive -- the one I posted above appealed because of the lighting and layout (and was very reasonably priced ...)

I have rented apartments/condos/casitas/whatever many times, from Paris to Istanbul to Montreal to Santa Fe, but am finding this one to be a challenge, mostly because of the huge range of choices and my admittedly limited knowledge of London. I've been doing my best to familiarize myself, and I have some time to learn more, but am surprised at the number of attractive-looking rentals that are already booked for next May!

So, advice/suggestions very welcome!
purduegrad is offline  
Nov 20th, 2014, 08:23 AM
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I feel your pain.

I have been to London before and knew generally where I wanted to be but just struggled finding something.

I also looked through all the same websites. I have used Homeaway and VRBO in the past almost exclusively.

We wanted 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms if possible. I found a place on different site and searched through Fodors and saw a good review of the agency and the actual apartment and booked it. We will be there in January and will post my review when we get back.

Here was the Fodors link I found.

I liked I could use my credit card for booking, and they were super responsive. I google mapped the location and could "walk" the neighborhood and knew there was a local grocery and a few places to eat, and it really was very close to transportation.
It is not nearly as charming as the place you posted, but for us it appears to be doable. Perhaps they have something on their website.

Good luck in your searching
ltr is offline  
Nov 20th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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These are far under your budget and are nice but not posh . . . in a lovely setting on the marina next to the Tower of London/Tower Bridge.

Not as central as South Kensington or Bloomsbury - but decent transport connections via tube/buses/river boats.
janisj is online now  
Nov 20th, 2014, 06:03 PM
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ltr, thanks for the moral support, as well as the link to the other thread. Will read that with more care and see where it leads. If you can find something, so can I!

And thanks for your suggestion, janisj -- I've read many of your other posts and you are obviously very knowlegeable. Your suggestion would be totally fine and suitable for what we're looking for -- but I had found it already and the one bedroom ones are already booked for our dates next May! The two bedroom ones are available, though, so we may end up with something bigger than we need. Would be good if we end up in a spat, I suppose!
purduegrad is offline  
Nov 21st, 2014, 04:48 AM
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Again, thanks for everyone's help!

I think that I've checked this location carefully, but now I'm suspicious about everything ...

How does this look? It's just about my price point, as the rate includes all cleaning fees, taxrs, wifi, and like that.
purduegrad is offline  
Nov 21st, 2014, 05:56 AM
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"four-poster double bed" nah it's a two poster
bilboburgler is offline  
Nov 21st, 2014, 07:42 AM
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The location looks good, it's a pleasant residential area and Kensington High Street tube station is not too far away.
tarquin is offline  
Nov 21st, 2014, 07:49 AM
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Looks like a really lovely apartment (Ignore all the photos of sites - none are near the flat)

The only downside, and it isn't a big problem, is being just off Kensington High Street your main public transit will be the Circle Line at High Street Kensington station, and buses. There is very good bus service on Kens High Street.
janisj is online now  
Nov 21st, 2014, 12:15 PM
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Man, those owners are really proud of their location - so much so that they hype the Whole Foods down the road! My gosh, what an attraction. If they're going to tout "location, location, location" so much, they ought to be spitting distance from Trafalgar Sq; they're not.

High Street Kensington is not as convenient as South Kensington, Southbank/Waterloo area or Knightsbridge (although that's a higher price point). It puts you at the perimeter of Central London on the Circle Line, which means you have to ride around the edge of Central London to your tourist destination (Tower) or transfer somewhere for another Tube line. At South Kens, you could take the Circle/District around its southern edge (Westminster, Tower, Monument) or cut through the center of London on the Piccadilly (Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Sq., Holborn).

Look: you're thinking of being in Abingdon (Road), not Abaddon, so you're not in some awful place. But it's logistically less desirable than other regions you had considered.
BigRuss is offline  
Nov 21st, 2014, 12:46 PM
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I like to do the street view on Google maps to see the neighborhood.
sanderskn is offline  

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