London Flats

Old Jul 3rd, 1998, 02:28 PM
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London Flats

Has anyone ever rented a flat in London? My husband and I will be staying for a week and would prefer to stay in a flat so that we can prepare some of our meals, rather than a hotel where we would have to eat out all the time. I'm gathering information from the rental agents that are listed in Fodor's. I would love to hear from people who have gone this route.
Old Jul 3rd, 1998, 04:20 PM
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My friend and I have put a deposit on a studio (L430 for 9 nights), private bath, full kitchen, at Central London Apartments, Bloomsbury area, for September. Haven't stayed there yet, but the place was recommended.
Old Jul 3rd, 1998, 05:45 PM
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After some 20+ trips to London over the past 20 years and staying in a variety of hotels--cheap and dear--we rented a flat for our last trip, at Chistmastime. It was fine. We felt we saved money on things like meals, especialy breakfast, there was more space, and we felt more relaxed. A few tips: 1. Choose location carefully. We were in a block of flats about two blocks from the Kensington High Street station. Very convenient. Not only was the tube station nearby, but it was on the Piccadilly line, which mean fewer transfers and long walks from one line to another. Nearness to the tube is essential. Otherwise, you'll be walking and walking and walking--and then, after a full day of sightseeing, taking a cab because you're tired. Cabs run into money these days. 2. As a general rule of thumb, anything more than a 20-minute tube ride is probably too far out. Another way to put it is remember that tube fares are zoned and there is a considerable financial advantage to being in the central zone. (Buying a week-long tube pass helps, too. You save money--and there's the convenience of not having to buy a ticket every time you want to travel. You need only buy a central zone pass for virtually all the places you'll be going in tourist London. This is another reason to find a place in the central zone.) 3. The location should be in an area where there are small food shops, inexpensive cafes, and late night activity. In other words, a cityscape. Kensington and South Kensington are great. I would avoid a place in the Bayswater district, on the wrong side of the Park (as a character said in the great Alex Guiness movie, "Kind Hearts and Coronets). Too far away. I'm not familiar with Bloomsbury but I've always heard it's pretty good. Anything in the general Sloane Square area should be good although this is a high-priced area. 4. Technically, renting a flat should mean that you don't get any hotel services. This isn't the way it is in a lot o flat rentals. The place we rented--sorry, can't recall the name--was basically a mini-hotel. Daily maid service, a staffed telephone board, full time people at the desk. No room service. No food service. No laundery (but we did use a laundrette around the corner) But it wasn't all that spartan. The kitchen was nice. Most places are, in effect, what we call studios and the Brits call bed-sitters (bedroom with sitting room in the same room). This works out fine. But there are all sorts of sizes available. Neither my wife nor I can think of any disadvantages. Insist on a room at the back of the building unless you like the sound of traffic. Be sure there is an elevator. Give yourself time to choose a place. Best of luck. --Aj
Old Jul 3rd, 1998, 06:45 PM
Madelaine Dalton
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Call the British Tourist Authority in New York, 1-800-462-2748. They have an approx. 80-page brochure on flats and apts listing amenities, cost, number of guests, etc., etc., etc.

Daughter and I are doing this in Sept. and have reserved in flat in Chelsea area at the Nell Gwynn House for L560/wk. Very reasonable. Safeway nearby, convenience store across street which bakes fresh bread every morning. Herods nearby. We, too, intend to breakfast there. The location sounds outstanding.

Welcome to e-mail me if you want more info. Have fun!
Old Jul 6th, 1998, 03:39 PM
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Definitely the way to go. We found ours in the BTA City Apartments brochure referred to above. It was a student apartment, vacant for the summer. Two bedrooms, microwave, and washer/dryer (a strange contraption designed to both wash and dry which did both only passably well and took forever, but we got by with it). We were 2 minutes on foot from 2 tube stations in Zone 1---very handy. We did save big bucks on breakfast and sometimes dinner. Would definitely do it again, due to having 3 kids and the fact that hotel rooms with 2 double beds are almost unheard of in Europe.
Old Jul 6th, 1998, 04:55 PM
Cindi Underwood
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Hi Mom,
I was reading through the messages on Fodor's and saw your response to flats in London. That was soooo neat. Small world.
Love your daughter.
Old Jul 7th, 1998, 08:02 AM
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My wife and I have rented apartments in London on several trips. We have found that the best deals were from individuals who own a small building out of the normal tourist area's. On occasions we even had to take a bus to the nearest tube station. We have found through trial and error that the Nottinging hill gate area is the the area we enjoyed the most. When reading the approved apartment listing from the BTA be careful as we have found their rating system leaves much to be disired. One place that had a high rating turned out to be a dump. The location was great, however the unit was the worse we ever stayed in and the price was much higher than others. All I am saying is be careful and get recommendations from people who have stayed there.
Old Jul 7th, 1998, 12:08 PM
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I used Europalet when I rented a flat in London about two years ago. I believe I got their name from the BTA in N.Y., but they also had a web site. The more moderately priced flats were in or near Bloomsbury. My location was very central to many attractions, only a few blocks from the Lincoln Inns of Court. Europalet sent me a floor plan with comments from people who stayed in the flat. I recommend them.
Old Jul 9th, 1998, 01:50 PM
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For about 10 years or so, when visiting London we've rented a studio or apartment at Dolphin Square in Pimlico (residential area, Pimlico tube stop 3 mins, bus stop 2 mins away.) You are in central London but a bit removed from the tourist hustle (which is fine with us!) -- the Tate and Embankment are in walking distance.

Dolphin Square is a group of 4 apartment buildings around a garden. 3 buildings are for long-term rentals (theatre and business folk etc.) and 1 building is for short-term folk like us. Depending on the size of our travelling family, we have stayed in a studio or 2-bedroom apartment. Studio has a LARGE bedroom, plenty of storage, eating area, comfy chairs to sit; bathroom with big tub and shower and heated towel rail (!!); and a small kitchen. 2-bedroom apartments have all the above and their own sitting room also. DS offers daily maid service and full concierge/reception/travel bureau services like a hotel. It has an arcade of shops where you can buy groceries, wine etc, full spa facilities (I had a great massage and facial) and a large indoor pool. A new restaurant was scheduled to open just after we left in mid-June. There is even a laundromat with wash-and-fold service if you're travelling for a while! It was an excellent choice for us when we spent a week there with our pre-teen kids, and the studio was ideal for the 2 of us.

We paid 135 pounds per night in 6/98: not cheap, but on a par with similar levels of hotel accommodation. I'm sure you can tell we like it there!

They get booked early, so call in plenty of time. London phone # is 0171-834-3800 (direct dial from US is 011-44-171-834-3800). They will send a brochure if you ask.

Enjoy your trip! There are a lot of apartment options out there, but some of them can be pretty sleazy. You get what you pay for, like everywhere else...

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