On my recent trip to London, seeing as how it was my first time back in the city in nearly 7 years, I was pretty keen (look at me all British!) to live as much like a Londoner as possible. You see, that’s because on my last time in London, I was actually living in the city millions call home. I was a student—attending a semester abroad through Boston University‘s study abroad program at Imperial College. That was 4 to 5 months of living in London. Short-term for sure, but still enough to get a taste of one of the world’s best cities.
So, on my return trip to what once was my short-term home, I was determined to enjoy those little London moments that once made the city my home. Grocery shopping (Sainsbury’s or Waitrose?), clubbing (techno or indie?), drinking (cider or beer?) — these are the types of decisions locals rather than tourists have to make. So that’s why I teamed up with the friendly folks at GowithOh to experience their holiday apartment offers in London.
The Downside & Upside of Apartment Rentals
To be completely honest, I was a little skeptical about staying in an apartment during our trip. I generally prefer hotels or hostels when I travel because they’re often centrally located, easy to book and offer plenty of amenities which I don’t often have at home. With an apartment rental, there were a few things which required more planning at the beginning. Notably, finding the right apartment through over a 100 different options. Thankfully, GowithOh’s interface provides plenty of search filters which narrowed down my search considerably.
My friends and I selected an apartment in central London, literally steps from the London Monument. We needed somewhere convenient to all the typical London attractions, but also nearby London’s East End (because we had more than a few London tours booked in the area).
Another initial hassle was having to pick up the keys in a different location from the actual apartment. It was a 20-minute ride away on the London Underground between the key pickup point and the apartment we’d rented. This isn’t always the case with apartment rentals but ours happened to be managed by another service. This could’ve been confusing, but the confirmation emails from GowithOh made everything clear and easy-to-understand, even if slightly inconvenient.
Upon walking into the apartment though, any hassle quickly vanished. We were fully equipped with enough towels, bathroom amenities (soap, shampoo, etc) and kitchen supplies to last for our full rental period.
While not having housekeeping to change our sheets and bring fresh towels each day was a lack of luxury, it wasn’t a problem since we were staying for less than a week. On the upside, though, the apartment had a washer & dryer so we were able to do our own laundry on our own time.
A final hindrance was when we checked out. We had to be out of the apartment by 10am on our final day, significantly earlier than any of our flights. To avoid carrying around our bags while touring through London that afternoon, we simply paid £9 to leave them at the luggage storage area at London Victoria train station. Normally we’d just leave our bags at hotel reception, but with an apartment rental it’s just not always possible. Thankfully, the process at London Victoria was easy and convenient.
Overall, the experience was definitely a positive one. We had plenty of space for ourselves in the apartment (there were three of us). The cost was right: it worked out to less than 60€ each per night. More than a hostel but cheaper than a hotel — and we had the whole apartment to ourselves. The location was excellent and the process from booking down to picking up and dropping off the keys went smoothly and without a hitch.
I don’t think apartment rentals are for me for every vacation, but for those when it’s cost-efficient, convenient and there’s more than just me in town—they’re definitely worth it. Have you ever stayed in an holiday apartment rental on a vacation? Share your tips below!