So, What Is a Serviced Apartment Exactly?

Wondering what exactly a serviced apartment is? Here we're explaining everything you need to know about this type of vacation home.

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Arthur's Castle, Plum Guide home in London

London is one of the most visited cities in the world, with an endless list of exciting things to do and see. But with bars, restaurants, museums and art galleries aplenty, not to mention the world-class shopping, it’s easy to blow a small fortune. That said, there's some good news because, alongside all the luxurious hotels, there's another type of accommodation which allows you to keep those same high standards without breaking the bank: the serviced apartment. But, 'what is a serviced apartment?" we here at Plum Guide hear you ask. Let's take a closer look at this type of vacation home and why this could be the perfect option for you.

An overview of serviced apartments

In answer to 'what is a serviced apartment?', many often describe them as simply 'apartments'. But serviced apartments are more than that, taking guests away from a traditional hotel stay but offering a number of benefits they bring. Using locations which are based in the community, visitors to London and other cities have the option to spend their time in something other than a hotel room. A relatively modern development, serviced apartments have rocketed in popularity and have grown beyond the corporate market where they first found demand.

As well as providing a space for sleeping, serviced apartments usually provide a kitchen or kitchenette with cooking facilities, a living area and a private bathroom. Some also provide additional extras such as laundry services or gym membership. You will find serviced apartments come in a range of sizes and styles and in a variety of locations across whichever city you’re visiting. In London, there are serviced apartments both smack bang in the centre, as well as further out in quieter suburbs like Hampstead.

Benefits

If you’re planning a trip to London, serviced apartments could add a new dimension to your stay. However, if you’ve never stayed in one before, you might be wondering whether they’re really worth the hype. There are lots of benefits to choosing a serviced apartment and here are just a few highlights:

Much more choice

Hotel rooms typically come with a finite amount of options which can make it difficult to organise if you’re travelling in a particularly large or small party. This isn’t the case with serviced apartments as there’s the ability to choose exactly the type of accommodation you need. Regardless of whether there’s 15 people travelling together, or if you’re taking a solo trip, you’ll find a selection of properties in the size you need.

Much more affordable

Hotels are often the biggest single expense of any trip, and that can limit your options. You may not be able to afford to stay as long as you want because of the cost involved. Serviced apartments like Angora Oak don’t have the same overheads as a typical hotel so are able to offer accommodation far more cheaply. This doesn’t mean slumming it or making sacrifices, often quite the opposite is true. With serviced apartments you’ll typically get more space for your money, making them far more affordable than other types of accommodation.

Angora Oak, Plum Guide home in London

Much more comfortable

Even if you don’t plan on spending a huge amount of time in your accommodation, it’s nice to have a base which is comfortable. Even the smallest serviced apartments have a living and sleeping area, facilities to cook and a separate bathroom. Larger apartments can be extremely spacious and may make your own home seem quite small by comparison. You’ll also have the benefits of all the home comforts you can imagine, rather than a sterile hotel environment. What’s included will vary from one place to another but often extras such as jukeboxes, bookcases and even a garden might be offered as part of the deal. Serviced apartments like Arthur's Castle really are a home from home, giving you the comfort to really relax.

Arthur's Castle, Plum Guide home in London

Much more freedom

When you stay in a hotel, you won’t want to be disturbed by other guests so very understandably there’s a strict set of rules you’ll need to follow. This can often involve set times to come in at night, and rigid meal times which may not fit in with your plans. Staying in a serviced apartment provides a sense of freedom which simply isn’t possible with a hotel. You can come and go as you please, change the sleeping arrangements as and when you want, and eat at a time that suits you.

Much more authentic

London has a unique atmosphere but it’s impossible to get a true taste for what the city is like if you simply stick to the tourist hotspots rather than the more 'local' London neighbourhoods. In a hotel, it’s hard to experience the local community as everything is catered for you on site. Serviced apartments are typically located in communities rather than on the main thoroughfares. This provides a great opportunity to find out more about where you’re staying; talk to the locals, do some grocery shopping and you’ll find a completely different type of world will open up.

The home truths

Of course, although there are undoubtedly a great many advantages to choosing a serviced apartment in London, there are some drawbacks too. Here are the main cons:

Lack of services

When you stay in a hotel, you’ll find there’s lots of services on offer such as shoe shining, laundry and room service. With a helpful receptionist ready to provide information that you need, there’s always someone on hand to make your stay a pleasant one. Most serviced apartments provide some extras such as gym membership and more frequent housekeeping, but you’ll need to check exactly what’s included before booking if this is a priority.

Variable provisions

There’s something very reassuring about seeing the little package of tea-making supplies in your home room, and the miniature toiletries in your bathroom. Granted, they aren’t the most essential part of your stay but they can help you to feel as if you’re being pampered. When you stay in a serviced apartment, the provisions are far less standard. Some owners provide beautiful extras to welcome their guests and make them feel special, but not everyone will go to the same extent. Take a look at the site before booking; previous photos might help to show what you’ll get. If in doubt, assume that there’s no freebies including and take or buy yourself whatever you need for your stay.

No hotel atmosphere

When you stay in a hotel there’s a real holiday feeling, so you’ll be able to properly let your hair down and unwind. With other guests milling around, it’s possible to make friends with others who are also visiting London which can be a fun way to expand the experience further. In a serviced hotel, you won’t get the same buzz and it can seem rather quiet and pedestrian. When it comes to finding where to book the best theatre tickets or where to go for dinner, you’ll miss the obliging hotel receptionist who can point you in the right direction. Of course, some serviced apartments include a concierge, but not all, so make sure you check this before selecting your accommodation if this is important to you.

We hope this answer has been helpful in describing 'what is a serviced apartment'. If you want to carry on reading, then take a look at our guide to where to stay in London for New Year's next, or perhaps the best places in London for a romantic weekend.

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