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25 Jun 2013

Tried & Tested: Blackfriars Apartments


Here at Check-in-London, we make it a point to know exactly what we're offering our customers so we regularly visit our London apartments and sometimes, we're even lucky enough to stay for a bit longer. Last week one of London specialists, Brett Power tried and tested our popular Blackfriars Apartments near St Paul's Cathedral in Central London with his partner and below is a recount of his stay:


ON ARRIVAL...
Having received the email with our codes we arrived at Blackfriars tube station and walked the five minutes to our apartment. It’s a pretty simple entry system. Some people think not having a reception is a big downside, but having two codes to get into the building and then the apartment is easy enough to use (as long as you don’t lose them - I wrote them in my phone just in case!) and it’s nice to have the freedom to just arrive whenever you like rather than between specified check-in hours.

The access details provided prior to arrival also stated the wireless internet code, and the welcome pack inside gave instructions on how to use the apartment’s amenities, as well as a 24 hour emergency telephone line if there was a problem or question you had.

The apartment block is step-free so our lift took us to our apartment on the second floor.


FIRST IMPRESSIONS...
The first thing I noticed once inside the apartment was the nice clean decor and spacious living area. The bed linen was nice and soft, and the leather sofas were comfortable. The beds were also comfy and it was nice to have free The White Company toiletries to use. Being a fan of cricket, having Sky Sports channels was a major plus point as I know that most apartments or hotels in London only feature digital Freeview channels.

WHAT'S INCLUDED...
As we were only there for one night, we didn't have much need to use the kitchen, but I had a browse through the drawers and in the cupboards and the utensils appeared to be of good quality. Of course, free tea and coffee is always a welcoming touch.




I was also surprised at how many towels there were; we only used two but there was at least four more. I had a little rummage around and found a washing machine, a hoover (though the apartment is cleaned on a weekly basis), electric fans, an ironing board and iron, a trouser press, and tablets for the dishwasher. Again, we didn't feel the need to use all of what was provided, but if we were staying there for a week I’d imagine we’d appreciate them being easily ready to hand.


THE NEIGHBOURHOOD...
The location was also great. Set right in the heart of Central London and only a two minute walk to the River Thames and the iconic St Paul's Cathedral. The brand new One New Change shopping centre is around the corner and is buzzing with shops and some great eateries. Fleet Street and Tooley Street are also within a short walk away with plenty of stylish restaurants and bars and just over the road there was a Mexican restaurant, a burger restaurant, a small supermarket and a really nice cafe with views of St Pauls where we had breakfast. There are also a few pubs around, but surprisingly though there was only minimal street noise that you could hear in the apartment at night.


VERDICT...
Overall we had a very enjoyable and relaxing stay at Blackfriars Apartments. It may not have luxury features, but it's very private, homely and has everything you would need at good value. I would recommend the apartment for anyone visiting the capital for a week or more for business or a family vacation.

- Brett Power, London Specialist at Check-in-London

A big thank you to Deep Blue Apartments.


For more information, Speak to a customer advisor now to enquire or book a Serviced Apartment in London. Call us on +44 843 289 8820 or email us at info@check-in-london.com for rates and availability.

19 Jun 2013

A Visitor’s Guide to Wimbledon



Whether you’re coming to Wimbledon for The Wimbledon Tennis Championships or have simply chosen it as your base during your short stay in London, you’ll soon come to know when you arrive that the essence of its community lies in its plethora of delectable restaurants to dine at and chic bars to cheers in.

Being a resident of Wimbledon myself and a sucker for quickly diminishing my role of cooking upon the slightest suggestion of dining elsewhere, I’d like to think I’ve sussed out this neighbourhood's best restaurants and pubs. Like most places today, you’re sure to find the generic Starbucks, Cafe Rouge and Wetherspoon that appears to pop up on every high street in the UK like it’s a requirement. They’re nice, sure. But if it’s one-off, unique experiences and ’local favourites’ you’re eager to discover during your stay, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are my recommendations for Wimbledon’s must-see finest bars and restaurants:

Top 5 Restaurants:


1. AUBAINE

Meander through the Wimbledon village High Street and you’ll be sure to spot Aubaine, especially if it’s a nice day and the windowed facade is open and spilling out slightly onto the street. The French bistro certainly has that outdoors feel, which is rare on high street eateries, and the interior holds a welcoming ambience with white rustic decor. The London chain restaurant has very friendly staff and prides itself on its all-day dining, offering an impressive menu for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. You can even pop in for a tea and selection of delicate patisseries or one of its traditional cocktails, and at the back lies a small quaint court garden where you can choose to eat or take your drinks outside.

COME HERE FOR: A light lunch and a glass of wine to break up your shopping should do the trick- and maybe another glass afterwards to sit outside with.


2. THE LIGHTHOUSE RESTAURANT

Ten minutes off the beaten village track, this modern cuisine draws customers away from the traditional pastoral eateries and offers something contemporary, stylistic, and sophisticated. This swanky, relatively new, international restaurant is a hit for special occasions and its well presented meals, relaxed cosy atmosphere, attentive staff and quality service is why.

Advanced booking is almost always required. If you’re coming during the Championships, I’d advise you to book NOW, especially if you’re in a party.

COME HERE FOR: A three-course evening meal from a la carter menu with a glass/bottle of one of their well-priced worldly wines.


3. THE FIRE STABLES

Arguably Wimbledon’s best gastropub, The Fire Stables is a popular local resident hub for its affordable prices and traditional atmosphere. Just off the High Street in a narrow side road, it’s a place of choice to come to for a casual, but great and well presented, traditional slap up pub meal or a relaxed evening jamboree!

COME HERE FOR: An evening meal, washed down with one of their notorious Bloody Mary cocktails.


4. CANNIZARO HOUSE

More something for an occasion (if you don’t have one, make one up) than a light bite, this impressive former country house sits at the forefront of Cannizaro Park, what’s remnant of its earlier gardens, and offers a sublime place to eat and drink throughout the day. Renowned for serving a delicious Afternoon Tea in The Orangery, an assortment of cocktails in The Lounge, or a more formal evening dinner in The Restaurant, this award-winning four star hotel is a must visit. It’s a bit pricey, though nothing more than to be expected for its infallible setting.

Advanced booking is almost always required. If you’re coming during the Championships, I’d advise you to book NOW, especially if you’re in a party.

COME HERE FOR: Afternoon tea with Champagne (£25pp) followed by a nice stroll through Wimbledon Common.


5. THE LAMBOURNE

But the fuss isn’t all in the village, and if you walk down the hill, befittingly named Wimbledon Hill Road, you’ll reach the town area (otherwise known as The Broadway, where Wimbledon tube station is). While you’ll find your bustle of high street shops and chain restaurants here, the AA rosette awarded restaurant, The Lambourne, stands out. If it’s a dinner out with friends or a hearty meal in a relaxed setting you’re after, at a very reasonable price, this place is a worthy option.


COME HERE FOR: A whole evening. Happy Hour on cocktails at the bar, followed by dinner in the Dining Room, and then back to the bar for a final ‘Wimbledon Bellini’ concoction!


Top 5 Bars:

1. THE DOG & FOX

Here, it’s Pimms O' clock all year round and one does not need an excuse to enjoy an afternoon drink or two. In fact, this corner pub is one of Wimbledon’s busiest, and catches the eyes of many onlookers as its customers spill out into the front yard. It’s hard to say no to, and is so welcoming you may find yourself stumbling into it regardless of whether you just popped out for an innocent short stroll. Before you know it, this could become your temporary regular for evening tipples!

COME HERE FOR: A good ‘ol English pint, but they offer most typical drinks too.


2. THE CROOKED BILLET

This family-run quintessential British pub is a favourite among local residents for its hearty Sunday lunch, but really, this is better enjoyed as a classic 'drinking pub'. Its fine selection of ales are a timeless treat, which can be enjoyed alongside the regular oldies in a quiet characterful setting away from the busy village.


COME HERE FOR: A lunchtime pint of Sharps Doom Bar Ale to warm your cockles (if you like ale). Otherwise, sausages and mash followed by Duncan's Tipple.


3. HEMINGWAYS LOUNGE BAR


Just towards the end of the village, this exclusive cocktail bar is the perfect place to socialize with a sublime refreshment and make the most of the sun (if there is anyway) in its outdoor seating. This is a hugely popular late-night spot so getting a table isn't guaranteed, especially on mic and live music nights, but it would be a shame for this to put you off. The barman is a friendly sort and can make whatever you like, though the extensive eclectic cocktail list should provide enough curiosity for an evening! Note, it's usually a youngsters 'hang out' on Friday nights. Better to visit on school nights.

COME HERE FOR: A cocktail, obviously. Having tried a fair few, I'd recommend the Top Hat sharer cocktail Hemmingways Hurricaine (it says for 4-6, but it's more like 4)


4. THE ROSE & CROWN

The grandfather of traditional pubs in South London, this inn/hotel is the oldest pub in Wimbledon and definitely one for the enthusiastic pub goer. It may only be a Young's pub and be a bit rugged round the edges, but that only adds to its quality of brew and historic charm.

COME HERE FOR: A mid-afternoon brew of Youngs Bitter, known as the 'ordinary' by regulars.


5. THE TERRACE

The first stop for many when they get off the train or tube at Wimbledon, or when they come out of the Centre Court Shopping centre, bags in hand and in need of a quick fix, this is a roof terrace bar that offers everything from a quick chilled coffee break, to casual after-work drinks, to a great Friday night vibe. Decked in trendy luscious green interiors, this bar is attractive and offers a cracking martini but, probably taking advantage of its crowd-magnet location, it’s a bit overpriced.

COME HERE FOR: Grab a seat on the terrace for post-dinner evening drinks. It may not be such an attractive balcony view, but it’s a good place to people watch. C'mon, we all do it!



Top 5 Things to Do:

1. Stroll through Wimbledon Common from the Fox & Grape end directly through to the Windmill Team Rooms for a hot chocolate or ice cream.

2. Horse riding at Wimbledon Village Stables. This is one of the oldest riding stables in the country and offers fantastic hacks through the common (booking in advance is necessary, and only some days and times are open to public bookings as privilege is given to members)

3. A trip to neighbouring town Richmond is just a short bus or tube ride away, and is definitely worthwhile if you have a day spare. Here you can cycle through Richmond Park or walk through its hilly streets for fashionable shops and see stunning views of the Thames down below.

4. If you’re here for the tennis, you’ll probably visit the All England Lawn Tennis Museum as it’s inside the grounds. If you’re not and have any interest in tennis at all, go here. The grounds are open all year and it’s as good a chance as any to see what it’s like inside. Tours are also bookable when the tennis isn’t on.

5. The New Wimbledon Theatre is a charming attractive theatre in the centre of town and has some good shows on at much cheaper than West End prices.

For more information about Wimbledon and the surrounding area and neighbourhoods, click here. Or, if you're planning to come to Wimbledon and need great value accommodation, we have a selection of serviced apartments in London for short stays, business, vacation or relocation.

12 Jun 2013

Top FAQs for London Serviced Apartments


London Serviced Apartments are increasingly becoming the most popular choice of accommodation and people are becoming more aware of what they are and why they have more advantages than hotels. Our team speak to customers everyday to help find them a London serviced apartment for a short let, corporate visit, family holiday, or relocation, so we've compiled a list of the top questions that we are often asked:

1. When is the best time to book?
The Summer season is, like most major cities, very busy. So if you’re planning to be one of 10 million+ visitors to the capital between May to September, we advise that you book many months in advance. Additionally, accommodation in London can be hard to find last minute during the UK holidays, such as the Christmas and Easter periods. With so much going on in the city throughout the year, the spotlight is often on London. But during the most popular events, such as the Wimbledon Tennis Championships (last weekend of June and first weekend of July) and the Chelsea Flower Show (end of May), it is always best to book in advance, especially if you’re looking to stay in the neighbourhoods close to where the events are taking place. If you’re travelling from overseas, we advise that you book your accommodation before your flights are confirmed as that will give you the flexibility to move your dates so that you can take advantage of any good offers on apartments to be had.


2. What's Included?


Our customers are sometimes not sure what to expect when booking an apartment in London. We go through great lengths to display all the information on our website but it’s important to note that each apartment varies in style, price, features and amenities so it’s also good to double check any specific requirements before bookings.

ALWAYS included in the price:

Bills – Water, Heating, Gas, Electricity
All local taxes (VAT) and service charges
Housekeeping – Either daily or weekly
Fresh linen and towels during your stay – Changes either daily or weekly

AVAILABLE in most apartments:

Full kitchens or kitchenettes - Microwave, Oven, Refrigerator, Cooking utensils, Cutlery and crockery, Tea & Coffee
Laundry facilities - Washing machines, Washer dryers, Laundry rooms for guests
Entertainment – Flatscreen TVs, International channels, DVD players, iPod docks, Hi-fi systems




3. What's not included?
Extras costs and services include telephone calls, car parking (sometimes and depending on availability), late check-in/check-out, and grocery shopping. Luxury apartments may have additional services that require additional costs, for e.g, in-room dining ad butler service. All services or facilities that require additional/extra charges are clearly stated on the individual apartment page.

4. How do I check-in?

Most apartments have a reception or concierge who is available during the day or 24 hours so checking-in is similar to a hotel. However, apartments that are individually placed in residential buildings would either feature on-site staff, who will provide a personal meet or greet service, or have a secure entry system in place at the building that requires you to enter a password to unlock the keys to your apartment (in these cases, all information provided prior to arrival date). All information regarding this can be found on the individual apartment’s page.


5. What if I need help with how things work during my stay?

Most apartments have on-site staff that will be able to assist you with any problems that you have. Those that do not have a reception/on-site staff have a 24 hour emergency number you can call where someone will be able to help you whenever you need assistance.


6. Can I pay by cash?

Apartments operate a similar system to hotels regarding payment, and so payment terms and conditions vary depending on the building and supplier. Some properties that feature an on-site reception offer a pay on arrival option where guests can pay by cash or card; some apartments require payment to be guaranteed prior to arrival; and some require full payment at the time of booking, most likely when your booking is a non refundable special offer. But almost all the apartments that we feature in our portfolio require a valid credit card to guarantee the reservation at the time of booking.


7. What sizes are the beds?

Many people ask what size the standard UK bed fittings are as they differ from the US sizes that many overseas travellers are accustomed to. Below is a rough guide:
Single: 90 x 190cm
Double: 135 x 190cm
King/Queen: 150 x 200cm
Super King: 180 x 200cm


8. Jargon terms?

Some terminology isn't universal, so below are some commonplace words that are often queried:
W/C : A single toilet and washbasin, which we refer to on our website as a ‘guest toilet’. These do not have baths or showers.
Hob: A kitchen cooking appliance (either electric or gas). Otherwise known as; a stove
VAT: VAT is a value added tax which is added to purchases and services in the UK. On our website it is referred to as 'taxes' and always included in the rates that we offer you. More info on VAT can be found here: http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/managing/international/nonEU-visits.html


Hopefully we've answered those niggling questions for you! Arranging a stay in a short stay apartment in London has never been easier, but if you are unclear about how to book a serviced apartment, or still have any more general questions that you'd like answering click here, or otherwise call our team on +44 (0) 843 289 8820 - they'll be more than happy to help you with any queries you have.

11 Jun 2013

Property Spotlight: 51 Buckingham Gate Taj Suites & Residences



They're a a big shot in the realm of London serviced apartments. You could write a catalogue about 51 Buckingham Gate, Taj Suites and Residences and probably still find more to say. Dating back to the early 17th century where it was occupied by Elizabethan aristocracy, the historic roots of its prestigious building alone could form chapters. But for now, we’re going to attempt to bring its magnificence and mastery to life in a simple blog post - we’re thinking of it as a midweek challenge.




WHAT'S SPECIAL?

Part of the exclusive Taj brand, which is one of the largest and finest hotel chains in Asia and has a further 16 international hotels, these discerning five star luxury apartments in the heart of Victoria are the epitome of luxurious living in London. Besides its supreme location and world-class reputation, these uniquely designed serviced apartments in London exude seamlessness. Before you even step inside you’ll be dazzled by the tall wrought-iron gates that denotes its off-street entrance and the carefully crafted frieze of Shakespearian figures that line its impressive quadrangle and dance around its fountain centrepiece. Once inside, opulence awaits. The 86 suites and residences comprise 12 different room types, from the graceful Falconers One Bedroom Suites (64 square metres), to the intriguing world exclusive Jaguar Suite (170 square metres), right up to the elusive Prime Ministers Five Bedroom Suite (167 square metres) or The Presidential Suite (a whopping 306 square metres.) Each apartment has its own stylish character and blends five star hotel facilities with sleek and swanky designer furnishings, classy entertaining and living spaces, top of the range modcons, and indulgent amenities.Perfect for short stays and for hiring to entertain and impress guests or clients, each suite offers a minimum of one separate living room, fully-equipped kitchen and luxurious bathroom.

WHAT'S EXTRA SPECIAL?

But it’s the Cinema Suite that really steals the show, offering its guests 170 square metres of cinema themed decor; mounted walls and displays of one-off memorabilia; rich, plush furnishings; an impressive banqueting table and service; a grand opulent four poster bed; and, of course, the cinema facilities. And what’s a trip to the pictures without the snacks – guests are served a cinematic platter on a daily basis. It offers the ultimate cinematic experience- and an overwhelming one at that- rather than just a place to put your feet up after a long day of sightseeing in the capital.



WHERE IS IT?

The apartments sit off the road within quiet surroundings in the heart of Victoria, conveniently situated between Victoria and St James Park tube stations. They are just a moment away from Buckingham Palace (they could well be its next door neighbour) and only a short walk to one of the world’s most popular tourists hubs, Westminster.The West End and Oxford Street district is minutes away with a terrific choice of world-class shopping, dining, entertainment, nightlife, and a tranquil stroll through the tranquil St James Park and Hyde Park are too just minutes away.


WHAT'S IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD?


In Victoria itself, you’ll find an array of eateries, shops and amenities dotted around its high streets. But the neighbourhood is really a practical area for theatre goers (home to Victoria Palace Theatre and Apollo Victoria Theatre) and those wanting to be close to the capital’s most famous attractions. Buckingham Palace, St James Park, Big Ben, EDF London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, SEA LIFE Aquarium, Tate Britain, National Gallery and London Dungeons are all within a 10-15 minute walk. The well-connected Victoria station can take you directly to the West End and City of London areas and, for the most extravagant travellers, can even take you to Paris and Vienna via the Orient Express.


WHY WE RECOMMEND IT?
As well as fantastic interiors and exteriors that offer both modern and classic living, 51 Buckingham Gate, Suites and Residences incorporate a range of desirable services and facilities to signature its excellence. The building houses a 24 hour reception and concierge, the Michelin-starred Quilon restaurant, Europe's longest bar Zander London, gymnasium, spa, CCTV security and video entry, private meeting rooms, and a picturesque communal courtyard garden. And amongst the luxury capabilities, practicalities were not overlooked. Every apartment features air conditioning, free wireless internet, a mini-bar, in-room safe, a daily newspaper, Molton Brown toiletries, ironing facilities and a bathtub, with inclusive maid service twice daily, and in-residence dining with butler service also available.





But not only are these apartments perfect for short stays and for entertaining purposes. Families can be very well catered for due to the generous size of the suites, rarely found in London property. Some of these apartments can cater for up to 12 people and children’s amenities can also be provided on request. A check-out time of 12:00 is also a nice touch for the late bloomers who like their beauty sleep.

For more information, Speak to a customer advisor now to enquire or book a Short term rent London. Call us on +44 843 289 8820 or email us at info@check-in-london.com for rates and availability.

5 Jun 2013

Before & After: Apartment Makeovers in Chelsea


A handful of our apartments like the 36 Draycott Place Apartments (above) in Chelsea have just completed a refurbishment which began at the start of the year, and are now re-open to guests with updated furniture and sleeker furnishings, ready for the Summer rush! Though the pre-refurbed properties had a cosy and traditional charm to them, we also like the brighter spaces and open living areas of the new design The apartments now feature contemporary patterned wallpapaer, designer funishings including lighting from British Designer Tom Dixon, a colour burst of splashbacks in the kitchen, and high spec amenities include Bosch kitchen appliances. Each apartment is decked out with modern facilities and include desirable services, such as free wireless internet and TV's with Freeview channels and DVD players, to make your leisure, business or relocation stay in London is clean and comfortable.

Oh, and also... a bit about the area:

These apartments are set in the heart of Chelsea, one of central London’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, and are surrounded by fine dining restaurants; world-class shopping on Sloane Square and Kings Road; sophisticated bars and cafes; and some of the city’s top attractions, such as the Saatchi Gallery and Harrods.

Take a look!

41 Draycott Place Apartments: As well as greens and yellows featuring in the refurbishment, a warm Summer blue has also been added to the colour palette in this bedroom.


41 Draycott Place Apartments: The former bedroom has been transformed into a combined living, kitchen and dining area with ultra-modern colourful furnishings and practical amenities. This comparison really shows how the refurbishment has made use of the apartments' space... oh, and the colourful splashbacks too!

No 1 Sloane Avenue Apartments: The living area has done away with its dominant rustic feel and been furnished with traditional wooden beams, bright white d├ęcor, flatscreen TVs and leather sofas. The blinds have been replaced by curtain, allowing the sun to beam through the sash windows.




41 Draycott Place Apartments: Feel at home with chrome in the new bathroom. The walk in shower has been rounded off and the plants have grown taller!

Click here to view all our quality Knightsbridge and Chelsea serviced apartments.