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In the past, when deciding where to stay on a holiday or business trip to London, hotels were the most obvious choice. The only thing you really needed to decide on was your budget and location.
However, in the last decade or so, a whole range of new companies, websites and apps have appeared making access to alternative accommodation types that much safer and easier, from holiday rentals and homestays to sofa surfing, house sitting and more.
But one type of accommodation which doesn’t often get mentioned is the serviced apartment.
What is a serviced apartment?
A serviced apartment is a fully furnished apartment with all of the facilities of privately rented long-term accommodation but which can be rented on a short-term to mid-term basis.
Unlike traditional apartment rentals, a serviced apartment also usually includes all utilities (water, gas, wifi etc), plus hotel-like services such as regular housekeeping and access to a reception, concierge, gym and more.
The main reason serviced apartments are less known than other types of accommodation in London is that they once belonged exclusively to the realm of the business traveller who needed to temporarily relocate for work.
However, this accommodation style is now becoming increasingly popular for other types of travellers too, with its many conveniences and benefits over the traditional hotel room.
Sitting between a private apartment rental and a hotel, serviced apartments represent the best of both worlds.
How to find serviced apartments in London
SITU Serviced Apartments are a great option for finding serviced apartments in London, offering modern and spacious accommodation with a whole host of amenities in some of the top locations around the capital.
They also offer bespoke account management for businesses looking to regularly use their services.
Benefits of renting a serviced apartment in London
One of the main benefits of renting a serviced apartment rather than a hotel room is that you’re pretty much guaranteed to get more space for your money.
Hotel rooms in busy cities such as London are notorious for being a touch on the small side (unless you really have a large budget to play with). And while this is fine if you only need a base to sleep and leave your luggage in, those who are maybe staying longer, travelling for business or just enjoy having more space are better off opting for a larger serviced apartment.
Having your own apartment with different sleeping, living and cooking spaces gives you the luxury of being able to spread out and have more room for relaxing, working or whatever else you need to do to make your stay as comfortable as possible.
Better in-room facilities
While most hotels offer the standard in-room amenities such as a bed, bathroom and possibly a desk and small kitchenette, serviced apartments come fully furnished with all of the home comforts you would expect from a longer-stay private apartment rental.
From a full-sized kitchen with all the necessary cooking equipment to whip up dinner of an evening, to your own washing machine and dryer so there’s no need to head out to a launderette, serviced apartments have everything you need to make your life easier when returning home from a busy day in the capital.
Another benefit of renting a serviced apartment is that although you get the in-room facilities of a privately rented apartment, you don’t have to miss out on the many amenities that make staying in hotels so convenient when travelling for work or leisure.
These usually include regular housekeeping, plus other facilities such as a gym, reception, concierge and even on-site meeting rooms.
Serviced apartments give you the facilities and space of a rented apartment but with the little extra conveniences of a hotel.
More affordable for longer stays
If you only need accommodation for a few nights, the price difference between serviced apartments and hotels won’t be noticeable. However, it’s the slightly longer stays where the real difference between the two emerges, with many serviced apartments offering significant weekly or monthly discounts.
Plus, as well as the cheaper rates, in a serviced apartment you’ll also be saving money on other things such as cooking at home rather than ordering room service for every meal or doing your own washing rather than paying extortionate fees for hotel laundry services.
Overall, staying in a serviced apartment can work out a lot cheaper than staying in a hotel in London, especially for longer stays.
Living like a local
While all the benefits of serviced apartments sound great for business travellers or those looking to stay in the capital on a mid-term basis, what about the benefits for a leisure traveller only spending a week or two in London?
Staying in a serviced apartment rather than a hotel in London also allows you to live more like a local, with your own private base in the city.
Not only is serviced accommodation usually a little further tucked away in the more residential areas, but staying in this type of accommodation also encourages you to head out to local shops and markets in order to prepare your own food, order takeout and have a quiet movie night on the sofa, invite friends over for dinner and drinks (if you happen to know people in the city) or other such activities that you wouldn’t be able to do in a hotel.
Benefits of staying in a hotel in London
Although serviced apartments often have hotel-like facilities such as a reception and gym, you won’t get the kind of luxury amenities you’ll find in many London hotels, such as a pool, spa facilities, room service or on-site Michelin-starred restaurants.
Not to generalise to every hotel in London, but many of London’s best hotels can be found located in extremely convenient locations around the capital; close to the tourist hotspots or in the city’s most popular neighbourhoods.
When staying in a hotel in London you’ll usually be able to step outside the reception door and be right in the heart of a bustling street with restaurants and attractions just a few steps away.
Serviced apartments, on the other hand, are often located just a little bit further away from the main tourist sites in more residential neighbourhoods.
This can really be a pro or con depending on what style of traveller you are.
Serviced apartment vs hotel in London?
While originally the exclusive domain of the business traveller, serviced apartments are actually a great option for any type of traveller staying in London for more than just a few days.
Whether you’re visiting for a couple of weeks or a couple of months, you’ll be sure to love the extra space, freedom and financial savings that having your own apartment can bring. Plus, the added benefits of regular housekeeping and a receptionist or concierge to ask for any help or recommendations mean you won’t miss out on the little perks of staying at a hotel.
If you’re someone who likes being able to relax in the complete privacy of your own place of an evening after a busy day at the office or out exploring the city, then a serviced apartment is definitely for you.
However, if you’re more concerned with having a quick and easy base simply to sleep in, or enjoy the luxury amenities that come with a hotel such as a spa and room service, you’re probably better sticking with this more traditional style of accommodation.