How to Experience London: Hotel, Vacation Rental, or Airbnb?

September 15, 2017

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Traveling in today’s world is filled with choices like never before. Once you decide where you want to visit, the next big decision is where to stay. Hotels used to be the only option, but now vacation rental companies like London Connection and rent-a-residence like Airbnb have changed the traveler’s landscape. How will you decide which is the best option for you?

1. Staying in a Hotel is Certainly an Option

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While on a 2800+ mile road trip with my husband last month, we were looking for perfect sunsets and landscapes to photograph. We wanted to spend most of our time in nature and so we camped in a different state or national park each evening. But for a few of the nights, we chose to be pampered with a bathtub and swimming pool. We wanted WiFi and luxury, and a hotel for one night in that city we were traveling through was a perfect option.

  • Short stay: Sometimes you need a place to sleep for a few nights, and a hotel is the only option. It may also be a short notice, and you can book a hotel the day you are planning to arrive. Apps like Hotel Tonight are a great tool when you find yourself in this situation.
  • Smaller accommodations: You might be traveling alone for business and won’t need extra space, a second bathroom, or a kitchen. All you want is a desk area for your laptop and a comfortable bed. A hotel might be the right option for this trip.
  • Luxury: If you are going to choose a hotel, don’t scrimp. A cheap motel may end up being a nightmare. Choose a high-end luxury hotel and take advantage of all that you are paying for. Besides the fine linens and spacious room, be sure to visit the spa and pool, and order room service.
  • 24-Hour concierge: You can receive advice on restaurants, travel arrangements, and even purchase tickets to theaters and museums at most hotels. Built into the cost of your room, you pay for these 24-hour services, so don’t hesitate to use them when needed. They can help reduce your stress with their experience of other guests and what they have enjoyed.
  • Know what to expect: If you have a favorite hotel chain where you have had a good experience in the past, you will probably have a similar room and amenities in another city. They have a reputation and standard to uphold to remain part of the hotel group. You can read reviews on Trip Advisor and see images of the lobby and room examples. Pretty much, if you see an image of a King Standard room, yours will look similar to the picture. The only change might be the art on the walls or the particular view.
  • Higher cost: Overall, if you stay in a high-end hotel the cost per night might be your most expensive option.

    2. Vacation Rental Apartments are a Newer Option Worth Investigating

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Suppose you are going to a destination like London for 10 days or a month and want to stay in the same flat for the entire time. This may be the perfect option for you, but how can you decide which accommodation to choose? Here are some benefits of a vacation rental, and a checklist to make sure the company you choose provides what you need for your group.

  • Comforts of home including a fully equipped kitchen: These aren’t cookie-cutter hotel rooms; each flat is uniquely decorated. Whether you are at the end of long day visiting landmarks or an afternoon filled with business meetings, it is always nice to come to a place that feels like home. Having a nicely furnished living room, and a kitchen where you can make yourself a snack helps me to wind down and get ready for a comfortable night’s sleep. I also prefer to have breakfast in my flat and save the time and money of eating out every meal.
  • Space, privacy, and freedom: Especially when traveling with another person or a group, it is great to have enough space that you can “do your own thing.” If my husband wants to stay up late watching a movie in the living room, I can snuggle in the bedroom with a good book. A vacation rental flat gives us the extra square footage to spread out. You can rent a 2 or 3 bedroom flat and travel with a group. Gather in the evening for board games or an evening conversation, then enjoy the privacy of your own bedroom and bathroom.
  • General support and communication: Most vacation rental properties have a small team that cover every detail of your stay. You receive emails in advance, there is a real person that lets you into the property, and you have contact information in case there are additional needs throughout your stay.
  • Cost effective: Many flats cost much less than a nice hotel, especially if you are traveling with a group and would have needed more than one room. There are no hidden costs when booking with London Connection. All the fees of housekeeping, taxes, and utilities are included in the price you see. No surprises on your credit card bill after arriving home.
  • Consistency and quality control: Most vacation rental companies have a track record, and a reputation they want to uphold. For example, London Connection has been providing vacation rentals in London for over 35 years. They have over 45 flats to choose from in the best neighborhoods. Your needs and happiness will be a high priority to them in order to keep their shining reputation and positive reviews. London Connection has a high rate of repeat visitors; one man has returned to stay with them 56 times!

    3. Benefits and Concerns of Airbnb, the Newest Option:

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Newer on the scene than hotels or vacation rentals is the idea of staying in a person’s home. Sometimes the owners are there, or they might stay somewhere else for the time you are in their home. If you like to meet new people and don’t mind seeing someone else’s toothbrush in the bathroom, this option may work for you. A third kind of listing is an additional apartment where no one lives, it is just used as a vacation rental. On a recent two-week trip to Puerto Rico, I stayed in two different Airbnb accommodations. One week’s stay was more positive than the other. However, I would think twice before choosing to return to either place in the future. When selecting this option, here are a few items to remember.

  • Options of how much space to rent: You might be able to rent just the bedroom and share a bathroom keeping your costs minimal. Some families also allow you to share the kitchen area with them and other guests. Other listings allow you to rent the entire home and have privacy and  your own space for the week you are there. Be sure you understand which of these options you will be paying for when choosing an Airbnb listing.
  • May cost less: Airbnb listings that you rent just a bedroom are probably the least expensive option if you are staying indoors, unless you sleep on someone’s couch or stay with friends or family for free. Of course, camping outdoors may be even less expensive, if you are a nature-lover.
  • Smoking and pets: If you smoke or have your dog that is part of your family, then Airbnb listings that allow these will be great for you. Sometimes there may be an additional cleaning fee if you travel with your pet. If you happen to have allergies, make sure you ask specific questions if the owners have pets before renting.  
  • Quality control: This is a major concern I have when considering an Airbnb. There is no recourse. If they get bad reviews, they can just close that listing and start a new one. So beware of “new listings” that don’t have a long history of positive reviews. Unlike a hotel or vacation rental, what may be one person’s standard of cleanliness may not be your expectation. You might find a place that is perfect in one city and then the next year you might have a nightmarish experience. One person wrote that they arrived to no fresh towels or linens, and even dirty dishes in the sink. Certainly not the way I would want to begin my vacation, would you?
  • Safety: Can you trust this person you have never met to provide the kind of security in their home that will keep you and your family safe? How can you ensure their track record and who they really are? Will others have keys to the house you are staying in? Do your research before choosing an Airbnb.

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Make sure you know in advance what is most important to you. Is it the cost, the space, the security, the amenities, the services, or privacy? There are benefits to each option and whichever you select, do your research in advance. Read reviews and look at photos. Keep in mind how many years experience and what recourse you will have.

Should you decide that a vacation rental apartment is the best option for you, feel free to contact us at London Connection and we will help you find one of our uniquely decorated home-like flats that will be the perfect accommodation for your perfect visit to London. You WILL want to stay there again!