Tuesday, December 17, 2013

HouseTrip London Apartment Review

One of the dilemmas we have when planning London adventures is whether to stay the night or try to do everything we want to do in a day. And yes, I realize this very much falls under "first world problems." The train ride to London from our closest major train station is only an hour. But there's a balance between the expense of the train tickets to get into the city (which can be around $50 per person if we don't plan ahead), the expense of a hotel room for a night or two, and then the kid factor: how hard do we want to push the kids to see a lot of sites, without much rest or downtime?

We've done it both ways (day trip itinerary for London here and weekend itinerary for London here). They both have their positives and negatives.

So when the opportunity to check out one of HouseTrip's London apartment rental properties came about, I jumped at the chance to take in a few days in London, knowing we'd have a place to call home in the evenings. Especially in December, when the city is full of Christmas magic.

Since moving to Europe, HouseTrip has become one of my go-to trip planning accommodation sources. They have so many properties to choose from, and a great selection of price ranges, too. For example, they have over 2,500 London properties available for rent. And if you know much about my family, you know we greatly prefer renting an apartment or condo over hotel stays.

We chose this apartment near the Bow Road tube station.

  • It was a nice location, only a few blocks from the tube (which conveniently has three different lines running through this station: Circle, District, and Hammersmith & City). It's even closer to the Bow Church DLR (Docklands Light Rail) station. If you've never used London's DLR system, I highly recommend it. This was our first time... it's much easier than the tube when using a stroller. If you plan to visit the nearby Olympic Park, then this apartment would be an ideal base.
  • Extremely quiet building. I didn't hear a peep from neighbors or any traffic sounds, aside from the very muted sound of the light rail. Unheard of in the city! We slept very soundly.
  • It has an elevator. Another great feature when using a stroller to get around.
  • Two bedrooms. This is key for us... as a family, we all sleep much better when the boys have their own space. One thing to note though is that the living room is one of the bedrooms.  
  • It has a washer and dryer. This is not something I'd seek out for just a weekend trip, but we got pretty wet walking to the apartment our first night in town. We were able to throw our jeans in the dryer to be nice and fresh to wear again the next day.
  • Spacious bathroom. If you've traveled around Europe, you know most bathrooms barely allow you to stretch your arms. All four of us were able to brush teeth and get ready in the mornings. And the shower has a bathtub, which made cleaning up the kids a breeze.
  • There's a great patio. I wish we could have used it more, but it gets dark here around 4 p.m. It would be perfect for summer nights, though!

  • Given its price point, this is a very basic apartment. That is typically what we seek out as our needs are pretty simple and we're always on a budget so we were content with this property. If you're looking for the Ritz, you should look elsewhere. 
  • There's no television in the apartment. When we travel, I tend to put cartoons on in the early mornings when the boys are up but we're not ready to head out yet (mostly to keep them quiet). So that would have been nice. (But they found their own entertainment instead.)
  • There were no instructions or info for guests. We didn't meet up with anyone when we checked in (which was no problem and which I was aware of in advance). Unfortunately there was no information provided, like what to do with trash, how to connect to the internet, or even how to access the building with the key. We eventually figured all of it out, but it would have been helpful to have that information provided.
Overall, I would definitely use HouseTrip again to find a property for our travels. The selection is great, the website is easy to use (I love that I can save my favorite properties as I'm researching options), and the booking process is straight forward.

Disclosure: I received a discount on our stay at this HouseTrip apartment in exchange for a review of my experience. All thoughts and opinions are my own.