London Apartment – Everything You Need To Know Before Booking A Serviced London Apartment

A few weeks ago a secretary telephoned me in absolute desperation. She was desperately searching for accommodation in central London for some VIPs from abroad. She stumbled onto my website, not really understanding what the service was about. I think the words ‘free service’, ‘apartments’ just helped her to figure out that Quality London Apartments had something to do with accommodation. Apologies for my long opening, but it is a prime example of how little travellers in the UK and Europe know about the serviced apartment industry. After explaining the concept of serviced apartments and helping her find an apartment, I realised that I needed to share this knowledge further afield. Thus, this article is my contribution to open up this elusive industry and offer tips to travellers.

What is a serviced apartment?

A serviced apartment is a flat in a block, which has a separate bedroom, sitting room/lounge, fully equipped kitchen, your own private keys to own door. Serviced apartments can be in the form of a studio flat (all in one room with a kitchenette), one, two or three bedrooms.
All apartments enjoy maid service, utilities and a management team to help….just like a hotel. Guests only pay for a nightly rate and can live in a flat with everything they would have in their own home.

Pros: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • More value for money and cheaper. In a hotel, no matter which star rating, you pay per night for one room which will have a TV, bathroom, sofa and a bed. This is similar to a studio apartment! In an apartment there is a separate bedroom, kitchen, sitting room, bathroom and dining table (exception is studio)
  • Pay per apartment and not per person. An example would be paying £250 per night for a two bedroom apartment, which could accommodate up to 4 people, that works out at £62.50 per person.
  • Freedom and privacy. An apartment is like being in your own home and there is plenty of space. You have your own keys to your own door.
  • Booking is easy, just like hotels. The majority of apartments require a credit card to guarantee, pre-payment before you arrive and that’s it. No deposits, no tenants’ contracts.
  • Cons: Serviced London Apartment vs Hotels

  • Apartments lacks the buzz and services of a hotel such as restaurants and Room Service. Albeit some apartments are owned by hotels and offer you the use of their restaurants and other services.
  • No 24-hour service around the clock. The apartments are ran by a small team who work Monday to Friday 9:00am – 6:00pm, so you are on your own during the weekend. There are emergency numbers to call should you suffer an electric cut, but no 24-hours hotel Duty Manager to run to your room.
  • No pool, massages, saunas like hotels
  • What to look out for when booking a serviced London apartment?

    1. Quality of the apartment – make sure you find out if they are clean, well furnished and well maintained. How? Check the photos, and ask if you can book an appointment to view the apartment. This is very important if you are staying over a long period of time.

    2. Do they have a friendly and efficient management team? If you need the comfort of a welcoming face to greet you on arrival, then ask for an apartment with a reception. Some apartments provide key boxes, so you can arrive any time, but there is no-one to meet you. A friendly and small team will be able to give you a very personal touch.

    3. Opening time of the apartments office – doesn’t sound important? Well it is because the majority of apartments’ operations team open Monday to Friday 9:00am to 6:00pm. If you arrive at your apartment during office open hours, then fine, but any other time and weekends will mean that you will need to pick up the keys from a different location.

    4. Key delivery by car at the airport? – If you are flying from abroad to London, and do not fancy traipsing throughout London at night to pick up keys, the majority of apartments will hire a taxi to deliver your keys to the airport upon your arrival. Convenient for a small charge.

    5. Payment procedure and cancellation policy – every apartment vary in their guest terms and conditions. All will accept a credit card as a guarantee of reservation, some will ask for 100% pre-payment at least 7 days prior to arrival and cancellation can range from 12:00pm on the day of arrival to 28 days. So, before you confirm the reservation, be very clear about the terms and conditions. Ask your apartment agents to explain the procedure to you and read the terms and conditions on your confirmation emails. It will save you a great deal of trouble and headache later.

    6. Apartments are always allocated on arrival. This policy is the same as any hotel, so unless you are a regular guest to a specific apartment, apartments are on allocations. In the same breath, some apartments only have a small number of flats, so if you are reserving the only 3 bedrooms penthouse in their collection, then you are guaranteed that specific apartment.

    7. Rates become more competitive the longer you stay. In this, we mean you have more bargaining power if you are staying for one month or longer. This is when your apartment agent can really help you by negotiating with a variety of apartments to get you the best deal.

    8. Using an apartment agent will also save you time searching, but most importantly they will work with your budget and negotiate a great deal for you. Of course, you also need to be realistic about what you can book, don’t expect to spend £80 per night for a luxury apartment. For example, one of our clients had £300 budget per night for a two bedroom apartment and he wanted something luxury. For those readers who know London well, also understands that this budget is actually very small. Despite that, we booked him and 3 friends into the Victoria Park Plaza luxury apartment (£150 per night less than the usual price) for £300 per night with free breakfast, gym and access to the executive lounge. Any apartment agent worth their salt can and will move mountains to help you.

    What if I don’t like the apartment when I get there?

    If you really feel that you have been hard done by, tell the apartment management team and ask to be moved to another apartment. All of the apartments that we work with are very customer focussed and try to help guests enjoy their stay. If this does not work, talk to your apartment agent, if that is how you booked. Best advice though, is to ask all the right questions before you book an apartment.

    Your appetite for apartments is now whetted – how do you find London apartments?

    1. As already explained, you can choose a free search and book service of an apartment agent or go direct to a specific apartment that you know. Both methods are absolutely fine, dependent of your knowledge of London apartments. Using an agent will mean that they will search far across their portfolio and present you with a variety of choices…all within 10-15 minutes. Agents are impartial and will only (good agents anyway) recommend the quality apartments for your needs.

    2. You can use search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN to find apartments. Type in keywords like ‘London serviced apartments’ or ‘quality London apartments’ and so on.

    3. Stating the obvious but, ask for a recommendation from friends and acquaintances.

    4. Check on Tripadvisor.com and other customer review websites.

    Summary

    If you have read this far, then thank you for your time. I have tried to make this article clear and as helpful as possible, but I welcome your comments and any further information that you feel is very important.

    Vacation Apartments in Rio – What to Expect?

    Lately I have been receiving dozens of emails regarding apartment rentals in Rio de Janeiro. People have sent me many questions and concerns, asking what are the average prices of apartments in Rio, their average prices, best locations, best deals, established companies, what should be included in the vacation apartments and so forth. This is when I decided to write a basic guide on renting apartments in Rio, Brazil. Some down to earth tips might save you some monies and avoid headaches.

    The first thing you need to know when renting a vacation apartment in Rio is that it’s a legal well established business within the tourist industry in Brazil. Many Brazilians and even foreigners buy apartments in Rio exactly for this purpose. Investors commonly buy used apartments and renovate them to offer the best comfort as beach rentals. Let’s now discuss the main points you should be note when selecting an apartment.

    Prices: prices in vacation apartments in Rio can vary significantly. Generally the more luxurious, the more expensive are the apartment prices. Beachfront apartments also carry a premium in their prices. Another rule is obvious, the greater number of rooms, the pricier it gets. If you travel with a group of friends, price per room can decrease substancially. Renting apartments with more than 3 rooms can be a wise option.) Prices are normally charged by number of nights. That is, if an apartment costs US$ 100.00 p/day, 10 nights will be US$ 1000.00. Discounts can be considered above 30 days rentals. Prices per day can decrease for longer periods, since a longer stay will be booked. How much per day? Usually fair apartments can be found starting at US$ 90,00 a day. Two bedrooms apartments in Ipanema, Lagoa and Leblon, all beach neighborhoods can vary from US$ 150 to US$ 300 a night, on average. If the apartments are located in high floors, if they have private pools and/ or hydro massage bath tubs, prices can rise significantly.

    Locations/ Neighborhoods: Like any other major city in the world, prices vary by per different neighborhoods and zones. Most expensive apartments are all found on the South Zone (called “Zona Sul” in Portuguese), specifically in the following neighborhoods: Ipanema, Leblon, Lagoa, Copacabana, Flamengo and Botafogo. Barra da Tijuca, once a separate beach neighborhood, also offers some very luxurious flats and residence services, but you need to have a car to drive around since public transportation is limited there. Ipanema, Lagoa and Flamengo have been considered the safest neighborhoods, since prostitution is heavily combated in those areas. Copacabana is a universe on its own, with a many apartments to choose from. Copacabana is one of the most famous neighborhoods in Rio, with night-clubs, beach and lot´s of culture. Need some one liner neighborhood highlights? Here they are: Ipanema: Fashion shops, trendy restaurants, and gorgeous beach. Leblon: upscale shopping mall, excellent restaurants and bookstores. Lagoa: nice park, tranquil night kiosks around lagoon; Copacabana: wide apartment selection, public transport, eclectic environment. Flamengo: family type neighborhood, Flamengo Park, famous street bars. Barra: beautiful beach, Miami hype constructions.

    Rental Agencies: The most popular way to find a rental agency is through the web. The are innumerous rental agencies to choose from in the wonderful city. The great majority of vacation rentals in Rio are serious in their business, delivering what they claim. Most of them display a list of apartments they own or represent, either by neighborhoods or by number of rooms. They present up to 10 pictures of the rentals and a small description of the amenities and apartment surroundings, so you can familiarize with the region. When you are choosing the apartment, first try to identify yourself with the neighborhood you are staying in, as well as your budget. This will save you time and help in the selection process. Once you know what where you want to stay and how much you can afford, browse through the apartments list and see if there is anything you like.

    Once you see something you like, send an e-mail to the company stating which apartment you have in mind, and a second or third option, case that apartment is taken. (Many rentals offer an on-line bookings calendar view, which may save you time as well.). To find a list of rentals agencies in Rio, type in Google “Vacation Apartment Rio” and check the results. You will find more than 10 agencies only in page 1 of your search.

    How are Payments made: Most Rental agencies in Rio take Pay-Pal, money wires, credit cards and cash. A reservation deposit is necessary to secure your apartment reservation. Companies have different reservation deposits policies. These deposits can vary from 30% up to 50% of the total stay amount. After the agency acknowledges the initial payment, the balance due is normally paid on entrance and key delivery of the vacation apartment. Most companies however do not return reservation deposit for Carnival and New Years holidays, due to great demand. Check the cancellation policy in company’s website or via e-mail.

    Amenities: Vacation apartments in Rio also vary a lot in terms of their included amenities. Most of them offer by default a complete kitchen, cable TV, Internet access, air conditioner in the rooms and linens/towels. This would be the minimum acceptable. One level above, rentals can provide CD/DVD player, clothing washing machine, coffee machine, and safe. Luxury apartments in Rio and residence service flats additionally can offer hot-tubs, private pools, and even gourmet kitchen utensils.

    Do’s and Don’ts: Be very careful during the reservation process since you need to understand all of the apartments requirements. Once you have decided for the rentals agency and the apartment in mind make sure you have all your questions and concerns promptly answered. It is the agency’s obligation to make sure you feel comfortable with your choice. Your rentals contacts should be courteous and receptive. If during the reservation process you are not satisfied or comfortable with your rentals contact, be sure to change your agency. If you have any friend in Rio de Janeiro, ask him/her to visit the apartment. This procedure is pretty common. Another tip would be to try to plan ahead. As soon as you have your travel dates secured, start your “apartment hunting”. Be sure to ask for a contract as well, and read all of the buildings do´s and don’ts.

    Apartments for vacationers are numerous but even so, Rio is famous for having the most exotic beached in the world and thousands flock here every year. So it’s wise to remember that the best vacation apartments get filled up very quickly especially in during New Years holidays and Carnival. I truly believe Rio is a city full of wonders and hosts the friendliest people on earth. Buy the latest fashion trend bikinis and flip-flops, but remember that the best vacation apartments in Rio get filled up very quickly especially during New Years and Carnival. So make sure you book well in advance.

    Copyright (c) 2008 Andre Skowronski

    Glossary of Types of Apartments for Rent in Ottawa

    Looking through the apartment listings can be a pretty confusing experience. Just what are the differences between a junior one-bedroom and an alcove studio? A convertible three-bedroom and a flex two-bedroom? Knowing the layout of each type of apartment and what features each type contains will greatly improve your chances of finding the perfect apartment rental for your needs and lifestyle.

    Walk-Up Apartment / Low-Rise Apartment

    A walk-up or low-rise apartment is located in a building that does not have an elevator (which means it might be a bit more difficult when you’re moving in). Walk-ups are usually older buildings that are less than five stories high and may not have a lot of amenities such as laundry rooms, storage lockers or wheelchair accessibility. Generally, monthly rent for a walk-up is less expensive than the monthly rent for a high-rise apartment.

    High-Rise Apartment

    A high-rise apartment is found in a building that is generally six or more storeys tall. High-rise apartment buildings have elevators and often have onsite laundry facilities, pools, fitness centres, comprehensive fire alarm systems, and security systems to monitor tenant entry and exit. In addition, many high-rise apartment buildings feature onsite management staff to assist you in the event of an emergency.

    Bachelor Apartment / Studio Apartment

    A great choice for students, a bachelor apartment (also called a studio apartment or an efficiency apartment) is a small one-room apartment with a separate bathroom. The one room serves as a bedroom, dining room and living room and is usually connected to an open kitchen. Bachelor apartments can range from very small (just big enough for a sofa-bed and a desk) to very large (with enough room for a king-size bed and a separate sitting area and dining area).

    An alcove bachelor (also called a convertible bachelor or convertible studio) is usually configured in an L-shape with a distinct area or nook for dining or sleeping.

    1-Bedroom Apartments

    A one-bedroom apartment consists of a living room, kitchen, bathroom and a separate bedroom equipped with a built in closet. Occupancy may often be limited to two people.

    A junior one-bedroom usually implies an extra-large studio apartment that is large enough to section off a separate sleeping area or bedroom.

    2-Bedroom Apartments

    A full two-bedroom apartment has two separate bedrooms in addition to a living room. It may or may not have a separate kitchen. Bedroom sizes can vary widely, from a baby’s room or small office to an extra-large master bedroom suite.

    A convertible two-bedroom apartment (sometimes called a “flex 2”) is actually a one-bedroom apartment, but it is large enough and laid out in such a way that a wall could be put up to create a second bedroom. Similarly, a convertible three-bedroom (or “flex 3”) is a two-bedroom apartment that can be converted into 3 bedrooms.

    A wing apartment usually has two bedrooms as well as a small common area such as an eat-in kitchen, but no living room. These apartments are ideal for students or roommates who don’t require much in the way of common living space.

    Loft

    A loft can be classified as a big, open space with few internal walls. Usually the result from a commercial building having been converted into residential units, lofts generally have very high ceilings, extra-large windows and often have exposed plumbing pipes and columns.

    Penthouse Apartment

    A penthouse is an apartment on the top floor of an apartment building, usually featuring extra balconies or a rooftop deck. A penthouse is normally considered to be quite luxurious and is an extremely desirable (albeit expensive) place to live.

    Basement Apartment

    As the name implies, a basement apartment is located in the lowest storey of a building and is partially below ground level. Windows and proper ceiling height are enforced by city codes. This type of apartment can also refer to the basement on a house that has been converted to an apartment. This type of basement apartment may have its own separate entrance and may have its own bathroom, kitchen, laundry room and heating system separate from the rest of the house.

    Duplex Apartment

    A duplex is an apartment with two levels. This could include a true bi-level apartment with an enclosed upstairs and downstairs, or it could also be an open space with an extra-high ceiling and a loft or mezzanine.

    Railroad Apartment

    In a railroad apartment, there is no hallway. This type of apartment consists of a series of rooms that are connected to each other in a straight line (just like cars on a train), meaning a tenant will have to walk through each room to get from one end of the apartment to the other.

    Balcony / Terrace

    The terms balcony and terrace are often used interchangeably to indicate a railed platform extending from the outside of the apartment. It can be small enough to accommodate one or two people standing or large enough for a picnic table, lounge chairs and plants.