Working out apartments to rent

London Travel Blog

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After several days of searching on the internet, over several weeks, I have narrowed down our choices in London to an apartment in South Kensington and another in Bloomsbury.  My husband and I are taking our two kids, age 5 and 7, to London for the first time next March. We would like to rent an apartment so we can take advantage of the wonderful shops and food purveyors, in addition to helping us get over our jet lag. We also like to sleep in separate bedrooms, so apartment rental offers us that ability, without the higher cost of hotels, nor all the hassle (our kids are too young probably to think about separate hotel rooms). With that in mind, I looked to Vacation Rentals by Owner (VRBO_ for ideas - the premise is simple; you find a place you like and you contact the owner to arrange the deal.

I found lots of places on VRBO that would work for us, and mostly through cost, was able to narrow down the choices.  Still expensive, not sure I can get away from that when traveling to Europe with the dollar so low against the BP and Euro. In any case, two stood out and I began the process of contacting the owners. The first place I contacted had all the ammenities - enough bedrooms, architectural interest, great location, kitchen, washer and dryer. The second place looked equally as interesting, all of the items above plus easy access to most of the museums and attractions we wanted to take our kids too. The first was less expensive, so I started there. My initial inquiry was met with a quick response - we worked through the contract and payment. He provided a reference, which I followed up on. I found a reference here to provide support for me, and then received the dreaded email - "Sorry, one of my regular guests has requested the same week, sorry, hope you can find something else". Wow, what a surprise! Fortuntely, had this other place in mind, so I moved on. The second place also proceeded nicely, until I was asked the age of my kids. Did not hear back from them after that.

By this point, 3 weeks into the planning and countless time spent on the internet, I was trying to decide if I was being a total idiot and if I should just book a hotel room. It seemed as though every time I looked through VRBO, I would find places with a one week limit, or in a sketchy part of town, or exorbinantly expensive. Granted, the trip is some 6 months off, but I was getting a little panicky. What if I could not find the perfect place!

Get a grip, I told myself. I looked again, very carefully, with my map of the London underground in hand (or on the computer, as the case may be) and finally found a place that would work. I contacted the owner, who responded quickly. This flat was in Nottinghill, near a great park for the kids. He had no problem with my kids, BTW, even offered to sort out a bed configuration that would work for us. Also, he does not want a deposit, which after my first two experiences, makes me a little nervous, but hey, what is the worst thing that can happen? He can rent it to someone else and then I have to start over. My fall back plan is still the hotel, which while probably generic and lacking some of the spirit of travel, will at least provide a place to lay our heads.

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photo by: ulysses