Finding a short-term vacation apartment rental in London

July 16, 2013

London view

View from “our” flat in Chelsea

Vacation apartment rentals in Europe can be a great choice economically as well as practically: most units come equipped with kitchens and washer/dryer combos, so you can potentially save money on food by eating some meals in, and save space in your bags for souvenirs by packing less. But my favorite aspect of short-term vacation rentals is the local experience factor; whenever I’m in a cool city or town I like to play the ‘what-if-I-lived-here’ game, and renting a place makes that game come alive.

When I began looking for apartment rentals for our trip to London in June, I didn’t have much time. The trip was rather last minute (due to factors I’ll divulge in a later post), and while we wanted to see a few places in England, it would center around London, a notoriously expensive city. If I could find a deal on lodging, we’d have more freedom to indulge in other areas.


Details that make a vacation rental a temporary home.

Short-term apartment rentals or private room rentals can be found via independent owners (airbnb, for example, lists over 5,000 places to stay throughout London), but I decided to start with an agency. There are loads and loads of good, well-reviewed short-term apartment rental agencies for London, and it was tough narrowing my focus down to just a few. It helped that I had an idea of where I wanted to stay (near Hyde Park or in or near Bloomsbury), so if an agency didn’t offer anything I liked in either of those areas, I would move on to the next one. Once I found apartments that I was interested in, I contacted the agencies with my dates and waited for a quote.

South Ken tube stop

Shops and restaurants abound around the South Kensington tube stop

All of the agencies listed below responded quickly and if they didn’t have anything for my specific dates, offered an alternative.

Rental agencies in London: 

Coach house rentals – They don’t have the flashiest web site out there, but they offer some really nice looking apartments in good locations throughout London, and the reps were great in getting back to me and in following up. Here’s a list of highlighted properties, and here’s the flat I was dreaming about.

London Perfect – I’d heard of Paris Perfect before, but didn’t realize until I started trip planning for London that they had a London branch as well. This agency seems to specialize in, well, special places for those with a generous budget. Still, I found a couple of nice looking studios that wouldn’t have broken the bank, and the staff were helpful and prompt in my communications with them.

The London Agent – Another agency with properties all over the city. When none of the properties in Bloomsbury I was interested in were available, the rep suggested a nearby flat at a reasonable rate as an alternative. They also followed up with me closer to my trip to see if I was still looking, and to offer a couple of other alternatives.

A Place Like Home – None of the properties I was interested in were available (I wasn’t booking completely last minute, but definitely not as far out as I normally would), but like The London Agent the Place Like Home rep sent a few flats a comparable price.

In the end, I didn’t rent through an agency but rather went with a private owner I found on Homeaway. Renting with Homeaway and VRBO can be riskier than using an agency, but you’ll also pay a little (or sometimes a lot) less. Our temporary home in London was a tiny, well-appointed and well-equipped studio in Chelsea, near the South Kensington tube stop. I had contacted the owner of this flat in the same building, but as it was booked, she offered another studio a floor or so higher up with a similar layout. The owner was attentive and readily available during our stay, and the price was just unbeatable, especially for the location.  I would easily recommend the flat to a single person or a couple that doesn’t mind being in close contact.


2 Responses to “Finding a short-term vacation apartment rental in London”

  1. Emilia Says:

    Fantastic advice! I love staying in short-term rentals when I travel, after a long day of travel it’s so relaxing NOT to go back to a cramped hotel room. Not to mention, the savings are quite good, especially in an expensive city like London.

    Looks like you got lucky with your rental; the view is spectacular!

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