Tips for Renting an Apartment in London / Review of FlipKey

London Apartment Compilation Photo

Whether it’s a £4 a night hostel in Bolivia or a £220 a night luxury suite in a Scottish castle, I’ve experienced every range of the budget when it comes to accommodation on the road. For me, whilst my budget will always have a threshold, it’s value-for-money that is most important. In big cities, like London in particular, this can sometimes be hard to find. For example, a very average city centre hotel in London will usually cost you around £100 a night. The standard of hostels in London is also notoriously bad on the budget end of things, and to get a private room in a good one you’re often paying nearly as much as a hotel anyway. So when I’m in the capital I usually try to find an alternative. Increasingly I’ve been finding that in short-term apartment rentals. Here’s why:

1. It usually works out a lot cheaper per head than a hotel (as it did on my most recent visit.)

2. You get access to facilities such as a kitchen and washing machine (that you wouldn’t get in a hotel.)

3. If you rent a place with friends you can all get private rooms whilst still retaining the comradery of being able to share your accommodation.

4. You’ll experience life in London more like a local. For example, we stayed in an area where local Londoners lived as opposed to an area or hotel/hostel filled only with tourists & travellers.

On my most recent visit to London I decided to use FlipKey, the latest apartment rental platform around, to find a place I could share with some of my blogger friends while we attended the World Travel Market conference.

Pros of using FlipKey:

  • Options – In terms of choice and variety of properties/locations, FlipKey was better than a lot of other holiday apartment rental booking sites I’ve come across. Currently the site covers over 240,000 vacation homes in over 11,000 cities around the world (in Europe, the Middle East and South America.) I can only assume that will continue to grow as the site becomes more established. In London specifically, there were apartments listed all over the city (not just in the city centre), which provided a lot more variety in terms of choosing properties to suit your budget (as city centre locations are naturally more expensive.) However, you still had lots of luxury end/city centre properties to choose from too, so it was really the best of both worlds in terms of choice.
  • Instant Booking – Another advantage of using FlipKey that I found over other sites of a similar nature was the ‘Book Now’ feature. Usually these type of sites make you enquire first with the host by private message to see if the property or room is available. This eradicated the hassle of all that and just allowed you to make a booking.
  • High Quality Properties – Most properties listed currently on FlipKey have a 4 star+ rating. This means that the pool of properties you’re choosing from is pretty high standard.
  • TripAdvisor Integration – FlipKey is owned by TripAdvisor, the famous online platform where customers come to review all things travel. Essentially what this means for you is that you’ll find TripAdvisor reviews and overall ratings alongside property descriptions. For many people I know this will help in their ability to choose the right property for them.

Cons of using FlipKey:

There aren’t any major cons of using FlipKey as far as I can see. The only downside for us personally was that one of our group had to put up a £500 deposit, which while fully refundable at the end of your stay, did seem like quite a lot to put up for a short stay of just 1 week. However, I did notice when looking at the same property again on FlipKey today that the deposit now asked for is only £250. I don’t know if this is to do with a change at FlipKey’s end, the property owner’s end or some other factor. Either way, it did seem like a much more reasonable amount.

Taking all of the above in mind, I think if FlipKey want to compete fully with the hotel market – who merely take your credit card details as insurance – I think they may want to think about adopting a different policy. Even though the deposit is fully refundable, most people would like to have that £250 to spend during their holidays (as opposed to getting it back after.) It’s only at the more luxury end where that may not matter. That said, I know I’m thinking more from the perspective of a traveller than a property owner, and maybe this is needed in order to facilitate a platform where people can feel confident about renting out their properties to what is essentially strangers on the net! 🙂

Additional Tips for Finding Apartments in London:

  • Up-and-coming areas such as Balham and Dalston will usually provide more value-for-money apartment rentals than other more established places in London.
  • Solo travellers do not need to miss out – FlipKey in particular has a variety of rooms available to rent as well as entire apartments!
  • More generally, try to book as early as you can! We made the mistake of booking last minute, which made it harder to find a good place that was still fairly central, although thankfully we did find a great place in the end!

One Response to “Tips for Renting an Apartment in London / Review of FlipKey”

  1. Mark says:

    Nice tips about Balham and Dalston. I’ll check them out!


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