No Room at the Inn? Accommodations in London

The New Year is nigh and that means only one thing in our household…time to update the travel calendar.  We are sorting through bucket lists, reading our new travel books and preparing to beg for vacation time.

In the meantime, we are blocking off sections of our “in London” calendar and making arrangements to host a steady stream of visitors, commencing with Youngest Daughter’s university friends.  I love uni kids…all they care about is a place to sleep (actual bed not required) and  a lot of home cooking. They have no standards for decor or space, which makes them perfect guests in The Closet.

We’re also excited to have and host guests throughout the spring and summer. How exciting and, well, a little stressful.  The Closet is perfectly suited for The Mister and Me.  Or The Mister and Me and The Children.  Or The Mister and Me and 2 guests who really, really, really like each other.  Anything in excess of that gets a little hairy.

Our solution?  Alternate accommodations.  I have a handful of favorite hotels in London (there is a post in the making) but when we travel en masse or need to host a family or large group, we let houses and flats.  It allows everyone to spend time together and it can be quite cost effective in places that only allow 2/3 people in a hotel room (I’m looking at you, London). Renting a holiday home is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I adore it.

luxury service hotel

Before considering a flat or home rental, do an honest assessment of your traveling personality.  Do you require nightly turndown service or are you happy to fluff your own coverlet and eat chocolate from a tin? Do you want your breakfast delivered by Pierre via trolley or are you content to munch muesli downstairs with the kids? Does the idea of exploring the local markets and making dinner every night (not necessary, but an option in a home rental) make you weep or rejoice?  Do you mind paying extra baggage fees to ensure you have enough clean knickers for a 2 week vacation or are you willing to risk the vagaries of a foreign washing machines?  Think long and hard about renting a home instead of booking a hotel.

favorite manor/somerset

The benefits of letting a holiday home/flat?  It allows you to live vicariously in someone else’s home/town as a local.  It allows you to have a nap in the afternoon without interrupting the housekeeping staff.  It allows you to have coffee in your pajamas or fix a snack at 1:00am when you are jetlagged and most importantly, it allows you some personal space.  We’ve rented tiny, thatched cottages in the Cotswolds, the wing of a manor house in Somerset (it had an Opium Den…long story), a manor house in its entirety in the Yorkshire Dales and a mill house (dated 1120!) in Devon.  All in all, we’ve let over 30 homes in the UK alone. Well over that if we include the US and other countries. Our children often told us that the houses we let were the most memorable part of our holidays!

Great Tew

Some of the most important issues when considering a letting is budget, location, quality of letting and the size of your party.  Ask questions, deal with reputable agencies, check property reviews online if available.  We’ve had consistently good experiences with the following agencies for country properties and plan on using them again for our spring travels.

Rural Retreats

English/Scottish/Wales Country Cottages

I find city flat and home lettings a bit more difficult, usually because there are fewer properties available. I am excited about investigating One Fine Stay, a relatively new company with an extensive collection of well-vetted properties and an excellent reputation.  You can use their website to search by location, party size, type of property, view, architectural and/or design preference.  If I win the lottery, I’m staying in all of them.

I’ve already written a review of the flat we stayed in when we first moved to London.  You can read my review about Bridge Street King’s Wardrobe apartments here...

If you have any questions, feel free to send an email @ explatLondon (dot) gmail (dot) com