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kswl Jan 8th, 2009 08:24 AM

London Location Question: Gower Street?
If a person were looking for a short term accomodation near the University complex, would you advise staying in Bloomsbury or looking farther afield for a combination of better place/better price? In several visits to London I don't really recall ever spending any time at all in Bloomsbury, so I have no idea if it is strictly students, if there are other residential areas on the periphery of the campuses, etc.

Cholmondley_Warner Jan 8th, 2009 08:41 AM

Gower St is a great place to base yourself. Yes there are a lot of university facilities there - with accompanying students. However it is far from a student ghetto and plenty of proper people live and work there so it is a functioning conmmunity with all the facilities you need.

Not that many students live there, most are based further away.

yk Jan 8th, 2009 08:43 AM

Hi kswl-

I assume this "person" is not of university student age?

Bloomsbury and Gower Street is fine. Sections of Gower Street is lined with lots of B&Bs. UCL Students tend to live in dorms, which are scattered all over Bloomsbury. There are lots of residential apartment buildings in Bloomsbury.

Along Tottenham Court Rd are multiple fancy furnishing stores.

A bit further on Charlotte Street, it is lined with lots and lots of restaurants.

yk Jan 8th, 2009 08:49 AM

BTW, kswl, if this person will be working at UCL, I would really suggest he/she live nearby and hence avoid dealing with taking public transportation during rush hour (which gets very very crowded).

I have lived in Bloomsbury for almost a year, long time ago. What I love about that area is the proximity to West End, SoHo, Chinatown, Covent Garden.

More often or not, after a show either at Covent Garden or West End, I acutally walked back home along Charing Cross Rd and then Tottenham Court Rd.

It's a very convenient and safe neighborhood, IMO.

The only possible downside I could think of, is getting drunk university students screaming outside the window on weekend nights. But I don't think that limits to Bloomsbury alone. As long as your building is not right next to a dorm, I think it'll be okay.

JeremyinFrance Jan 8th, 2009 09:46 AM

Another downside of Gower Street is the noise. There is quite a bit of traffic which runs all through the night. If you're a light sleeper you may want to look elsewhere.


kswl Jan 8th, 2009 09:58 AM

We're looking into a program for our son at RADA which runs for about a month this summer. The cost for a spartan student "cell" with no cooking facilities is about half of a modest apartment. He is 17, and is sort of on the cusp of needing/ not needing a chaperone, particularly on the weekends when there is no set program.

If we rent an apartment I can stay some or most of the time, DH can visit, etc.

Ideally we'd like the apt. to be as close to the Royal Academy as possible. The dorm rooms they offer are a 10 minute walk away, part of University College London's Astor College. We'd want to be at least that close, although perhaps in a diffferent direction.

Cholmondley_Warner Jan 8th, 2009 10:10 AM

Have you looked at the LSEs accomodation? It sounds rather better than UCL's:

yk Jan 8th, 2009 10:10 AM

kswl - Astor College!!! That's where I lived for almost a year, when I did my junior year abroad at UCL back in the early 1990s. It's on Charlotte Street, which is on the "other side' of Tottenham Court Rd from Gower Street.

The dorm room at Astor College - all singles - was similar in size to the dorm room in my US college. There is also a communal kitchen with stove and microwave and fridge.

It is a perfectly safe neighborhood, and be honest, if he's only going to be there for 1 month, just let him stay at Astor College for a fraction of the cost of renting an apt for a whole month for him.

While I was 19 when I went to London, I was only 17 when I left home for college, half a world away, about 7000 miles.

You should be able to rent a flat for you and your DH for a week or two nearby Astor College, if you decide to visit while he's in London. I think janisj has rented some in that area.

kswl Jan 8th, 2009 10:40 AM

yk, small world! Are the rooms at Astor really a 10 minute walk, or would he need a bicycle?

Quite honestly, the reason I am looking into a month long rental apartment is because I am thinking of taking the month in London with him just for fun. Mine, that is, not his!

kswl Jan 8th, 2009 10:46 AM

Thanks for replies, CW and jeremy. I don't think the noise will be a factor.

Those LSE dorms look very nice, particularly the award-winning one, CW. I don't know how many students will be staying in the Astor College accomodation, but I do know they are a bit older than our son. He would be NOT be attending the program specifically for teens/high school students that is at least partially supervised. DS would be in a different course, no supervision, early 20's students.

yk Jan 8th, 2009 10:48 AM

If the RADA is at the 62-64 Gower Street address, then yes, it's a short walk, less than 0.5 mile. No need for a bicycle... he won't need it and he won't want it. Traffic is too bad to safely bike on the street for someone not familiar with London, plus he'll have to worry about bike theft.

there's something nice about being able to live so close to where classes are held... just roll out of bed and you're there!

It's actually a shorter walk from Astor College to RADA, then to many of the UCL buildings (which is where I had classes).

I don't have children myself, so I should not give any opinion on parenting, but if this is the first time your son is leaving home and being by himself, I'd say give him the chance to stay at the dorm and meet others. Are there other students taking the summer course at RADA staying at Astor College?

Of course, you should still take the advantage of visiting London while he's there.

kswl Jan 8th, 2009 11:33 AM

Lol, yk, opine away!

This is a kid who has already been away at boarding school. He has a tendency to enjoy wild parties (and comes by that honestly). I have mixed feelings about letting him go off completely on his own...

yk Jan 8th, 2009 12:36 PM

kswl - This is a link to a thread about Scala House, where janis and several other Fodorites have stayed before. It is very near Goodge street tube station, which is 2 blocks from Astor College. You may want to consider this if you decide to rent a place for a whole month for you and your son.;tid=34921522

kswl Jan 8th, 2009 02:07 PM

Thanks for that link, I have been sending out emails looking for a place for two weeks. I think a compromise of letting him stay in Astor College for two weeks and staying with me/us in an apartment for two weeks would work out nicely. IF we can find the right rental. and IF he gets the program. so many ifs!

Carrybean Jan 8th, 2009 02:33 PM

I thought Scala House had been sold & was being converted into regular flats, not short-term.

tedgale Jan 8th, 2009 03:35 PM

Wish I were heading to Bloomsbury. Lucky guy. When I was 18, it was poassible for Commonwealth students to stay at London House, a University residence in Mecklenburgh Square, for L 1.50 a night. Beautiful building, nice garden, great location and good enough food of its type...I stayed there that summer and several times thereafter.

How I'd love to return to the 70s and (affordable, poor, grimy) London of yore!

Nikki Jan 8th, 2009 03:48 PM

I believe Scala House is no longer doing tourist rentals. I stayed there several years ago and really liked the location.

yk Jan 8th, 2009 04:00 PM

Thanks for the update and correction about the Scala House. That's too bad (for us), as it sounds like a decent place to stay and great location.

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