Monday, 17 September 2012

PROPERTY ARTICLE: Serviced accommodation in London. Copyright SvD.

Tenants: Have you considered Serviced Accommodation in London?

One of my favourite quotes is “Time waits for no man” and I think it encapsulates the glory of London; we live in a City where everything is possible as long as you hurry up!

Nothing could be truer that when looking at the property landscape in this great city of ours. Five years ago, serviced apartments in London were few and far between. My clients, who tend to work in the financial district or are diplomats, would send staff over to London and those staff generally had to find their own accommodation. Sometimes their search could take weeks if not months. Thrown in at the deep end and without having their bearings or knowing where to live, which agent to approach and most importantly, whom to trust, many employees ended up with a severe headache. As a relocation agent, I assist with sorting out the dilemma and presenting options that suit both budget and lifestyle. And given the chance, everyone would prefer the comfort of a home away from home, i.e a flat with all the amenities of an hotel but most importantly, a kitchen. Nearly always, my clients prefer serviced accommodation to hotels when they first arrive in London. And of course, may of my Arab clients prefer to cook for themselves and find serviced accommodation more practical.

These days, serviced accommodation has grown exponentially and is a high growth sector. The average spend for a small company in the Square Mile on employee housing (for expatriate staff) is around £250,000. Per annum. Do the math: if that spend all went to hotels, the number of nights would be far less than serviced accommodation. A standard room in a four star hotel is around £300. Per night. A serviced apartment from a reputable provider is around £200. or less depending on length of stay (typically, the price goes down after the first week) and the price includes many of those extras that would be chargeable in an hotel.

Serviced apartments can range from studios to three bedrooms. Some are very modern in style, others are more luxurious, many offer a 24 hour reception service and excellent security. Parking, if available, is usually charged per day at between £10-£20. Providers include in their rates as standard internet access, multi-channel TV, once per week clean, once per week linen change and in some instances, a welcome pack of basic food items to ensure that a weary arrival suffering with jet lag can walk in and kick off their shoes. Guests should note that service apartment providers will expect payment in full in advance unlike hotels who will wait until check out to settle the bill. This requirement of early payment is due to the high demand for these flats, which are booked back to back, and which is testament to their popularity.

Over the last three years I have observed a boom in the serviced apartment sector with more and more investors buying blocks of apartments in and around the City and West End and converting them to serviced flats. Plus there are now some really good, reputable providers who have honed their experience in this dynamic sector and who provide first rate service to guests. My own company benefits from great rates with many leading providers which I pass on to my clients. I only benefit from these rates though given the volume of business I give these suppliers otherwise to be fair, serviced apartments are in such great demand that they sell themselves.

The growth in this sector proves yet again that London is regarded as one of the foremost cities in the world to both the business traveller and tourist.

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