If you’re planning on coming to London to visit relatives, see friends or simply take in some of the sights, then one of the factors at the top of your agenda when it comes to planning the trip will be sorting out somewhere to stay. The obvious choice may at first seem to be a hotel or bed and breakfast, but for many people, renting short term accommodation in London in the form of a house, flat or rooms in a house, will provide a much better solution. Accommodation of this kind is often much more affordable than a hotel room and offers a degree of flexibility, adaptability and ‘home from home’ comfort which other options struggle to match. By renting in this way you manage to enjoy all the comforts of home whilst coming and going as you please and reducing drastically the money you have to spend on things like dining out.
To many people, the idea of finding a property for a short term rent in London is something which is relatively novel, and, while it’s bound to increase in popularity in coming years, it’s currently vital for those new to the idea to make sure that they are not exploited by unscrupulous landlords or agents keen on taking advantage of their naiveté. To this end, it will be hugely advantageous to adhere closely to the following tips:
- Rental Period: Make sure that you’re fully aware of any minimum rental period which might apply to the property. For some properties, there is a minimum let of a week, a month or a period of months, for example, which might make them unsuitable for the trip which you have in mind. Renting via a larger property agency will probably make it more likely that you’ll be able to find a range of properties which entirely meet your needs.
- Booking Promptly: As with things such as air and train tickets and holiday lettings, the trick to getting the best possible deal when arranging accommodation is to book as far in advance of the trip as you possibly can. If you’re able to reserve the property at least four months before you need it, you’ll get a much better deal in terms of both choice and affordability.
- Do The Research: Find out as much as you possibly can about the property which you want to stay in. An agency should be happy to provide references and reviews and, if you can possibly speak to other people who’ve used the same service or even stayed in the exact same property then do so. Few sources of information are as reliable, candid and to the point as the word of mouth reviews of ordinary people who’ve been in the same position as you are.
- Check the Space: Think carefully about the number of people who will be sleeping in the accommodation and the number of rooms which are available. Just because a flat or house is capable of sleeping six people, for example, doesn’t mean that it’s large enough to accommodate six people in any kind of comfort. Spaces such as the lounge and kitchen may become uncomfortably overcrowded, particularly when it comes to meal times. Many landlords boost the amount of rent they can charge by providing the likes of a sofa bed, but with no corresponding increase in the amount of space available, this kind of move can lead to people feeling as though they are living ‘on top of each other’. One of the chief advantages of this type of rental is the extra space which is usually available when compared to a hotel room, so it’s vitally important to check and make sure you’re getting the room you need. Whilst most landlords or agencies will provide photographs of the rooms, these can be misleading, so ensure that you receive full details of the actual space in each room in terms of measurement and then use these figures to compare with something such as your own home. Finally, always ask about the accessibility of the property, especially if you have members of your party who might struggle when coping with stairs.
- Hot and Cold: Depending on the time of year when you are travelling, and of course the destination, ensure that you enquire whether the accommodation has sufficient heating or comes equipped with air conditioning. Many older properties, particularly in the United Kingdom, don’t come with air conditioning fitted so ask if fans can be provided. If not, getting to sleep on hot sticky nights might prove to be something of a struggle.
- Make A Call: Whilst larger agencies take advantage of the technology now available to make it quick and simple to find and book property online, it’s still often very much worth your while to actually make a phone call and speak to an agent in person. Not only will they be able to provide specific, personalised advice and information but they also may know of other properties which, for one reason or another, haven’t been put up on the website yet. On top of this, a personalised phone call will give you an invaluable opportunity to see if it’s possible to haggle over the price of the rent at all.
- Contract: Before signing the contract agreeing to the rental, ensure that you read and re-read it extremely closely. Make sure that you know exactly what the details of the rental are in terms of things such as the cost, checking in and out, what will be provided etc. If there’s anything which you’re uncertain about then don’t be afraid to ask the landlord or agent. A reputable company will be only too happy to make sure that you have all the information you require, and that you are completely happy with the deal that’s been arranged.
- Extras: Find out exactly what’s included in your rental. Any agency will make sure that the property is cleaned before your arrival, but if you’re staying longer than a week it may be possible to avail yourselves of the services of a housekeeper or cleaner. Similarly, you might be able to have your bedding and other linen replaced and it is sometimes possible to have the kitchen stocked with basic items for your arrival, something which is particularly welcome at the end of a long journey.
- Telephone: Make sure you know what kind of telephone access you’ll have in the property. Many have a landline which is limited to only local and incoming calls, meaning that, if you’re travelling from abroad, you may not be able to phone home. Knowing what’s available in advance will allow you to make your own arrangements.
One of the advantages of this kind of renting is the sheer freedom which it provides. You can come and go as you please and take full advantage of everything which a city like London has to offer. The downside of this is that, unlike in a hotel, you’ll have no helpful desk clerk armed with local knowledge and a stack of guide books. Bearing this in mind, it’s vital to read up on the local amenities and attractions in advance, and to make sure that you come equipped with a good map and a guide to the area. On top of this, it may be advantageous to book some things, such as theatre tickets and restaurant tables, before making your journey.