Many of our G2G Members do business and vacation in London, and they are consistently asking us for advice on how to find great London vacation rentals at a great value. Here are the top 5 problems we have seen with renting a luxury apartment in London and how to avoid them:
1. You probably won’t get to see the place before you stay there. It’s one thing to look at pictures on the internet of London apartments, but a whole different thing to see it in person. Being in a foreign country and not being familiar with all the different areas and streets, you have to be careful where you stay. Some areas are noisy, some apartments don’t have air conditioning in the summer, and others are walk-ups – sometimes many flights. It’s very difficult to assess how these issues might affect your stay until you’ve seen the place.
Solution: See if you can find reviews online of others who have stayed there. Ask to speak with some of the people who reviewed the home. The ideal solution is to find someone you trust in London to go see it for you and take their own photos. You may have to network through social media to find someone who knows someone living in London. But having a contact there that can check out your apartment ahead of time and give you the pros and cons from an unbiased source might help you avoid a nightmare experience.
2. The time difference makes it difficult to speak with the homeowner or property manager. You might call or email 5 different listings that look great, but with a 5 to 6 hour time difference from the East Coast (and 8 to 9 hour difference from the West Coast), actually speaking live with someone is a lot more challenging than when you are renting in North or South America. And you ALWAYS want to at least have a conversation with the homeowner or property manager before traveling overseas, paying good money and staying in their apartment.
Solution: Email them first to schedule a time to talk first thing in the morning (your time) or ask them how late they are able to talk. Let them know you are very interested in renting their apartment and for which dates, but you have some questions and want to make sure you have a conversation with them first.
3. Most London apartments have rates quoted in British Pounds. Make sure that when you are looking at the rates, you check to see whether they are in pounds or dollars. It could cost you big time if you don’t know what the exchange rate is and what price you are agreeing to in dollars.
Solution: Most rental websites, like VRBO, have a currency converter on their rate page, so it’s generally much easier to simply change all the rates to U.S. Dollars when you are evaluating a listing.
4. More expensive listings does not always mean better places. The London real estate market is arguably the most expensive in the world, with billionaires from all over (Russia, Europe, the Middle East) bidding up real estate in certain neighborhoods, like Belgravia. This translates into higher rental rates, as well. So, you cannot assume that if you’re paying more, you’ll be getting more, or even a better location for what you may be looking for during your stay in London.
Solution: Have a plan in place for what you want to do while you’re in London, and ask homeowners and property managers how you would get to the places you want to go from their apartments. Being in easy walking distance to a Tube stop might be critical for your ease of getting around London.
5. It seems like a full-time job to try to find the right apartment to rent in London. Homeaway and VRBO both have nearly 5,000 apartments for rent in London, so it can be both intimidating and extremely time consuming to narrow that down to ONE place that will provide for a great stay.
Solution: First, figure out what area of London you want to stay in, how many bedrooms, and what your budget range is. Then find around 5 listings that look good in the photos and have solid reviews. You can also refer to our article called “5 VRBO Problems and How to Avoid Them.”
Finding the right apartment in London can make the difference between an amazing vacation (or business trip) to one of the most exciting cities in the world and a “downright bloody awful one.” It is worth taking the time to speak with people who know London and/or live there to insure you don’t make a major mistake. Many of our Members will soon be able to pay less than $500 per night for a hand-picked 2 bedroom apartment in a very central location, but they have also paid to join a private club that affords them lower nightly rental rates. If you would like more information on rental options in London, please call us at 678-506-2700 or email us at email@example.com.