A couple of months ago I was offered a complimentary stay in one of City Marque’s serviced apartments to experience visiting London from a difference perspective. When I’ve visited the city in the past, I’ve stayed in chain hotels, budget hostels or Army accommodation, so when I was offered a night in an apartment of my choice, I jumped at the chance to experience staying in London from a completely different set up.
I chose the Oxford House Penthouse, just off of Tottenham Court Road, by Goodge Street Station. The location was perfect: within walking distance was Kings Cross St Pancras, Oxford Street, Covent Garden, Leicester Square and more.
Joining me was my friend from Scotland, Annierose. Checking in around 4pm (the earliest you can check in is 3pm), we were immediately impressed with the accommodation. With no receptionist or check-in as there would be in a hotel, access into the building was easy and secure. The apartment itself was great. It was large, bright, clean and decorated with a chic and contemporary design.
While the same can be said for hotels, the apartment had additional personal touches like chocolate truffles on the dining table, chocolates on the bed and swan-shaped towels. Beyond a hotel, however, the apartment boasted a fantastic balcony lining all three sides of the apartment for sweeping views of the capital, including notable landmarks like the Shard and the London Eye. (A very nice addition, especially as so many hotels have windows that only open an inch!)
Where the apartments really win over hotels in London is the freedom they provide. In hotels you can come and go as you please, but you are somewhat restricted: breakfast has set times, for example. But at a City Marque serviced apartment you can do as you please. You can lie in till as last as you like before rustling up a breakfast of your choice, you can cook in the well-equipped kitchen, or even order a lazy take away if you wish. There’s even an iPod docking station for some additional home comforts.
Freedom is a huge asset; however don’t be put off by the lack of on-site staff. The company provides a detailed welcome package, with apartment details and information about the surrounding area. There is also a 24-hour helpline in case you have any maintenance issues, for example. We actually made use of this helpline because the toilet in our second bedroom had a loose loo seat, and the lift had been playing up (10 flights of stairs is quite a way up!). The operator was friendly and polite and immediately sent out for someone to come and take a look at the lift which was fixed straightaway. As for the toilet seat, there was the issue of having to wait until morning for someone to come out, but with two other toilets in the apartment, it wasn’t a problem.
Overall, staying in a serviced apartment is definitely on par with the boutique hotels in London. It beats chain hotels hands down in my opinion and would be a fantastic place to stay for business in London, romantic visits or group stays, with its central location and comfortable, sleek décor.
It’s only downfall was the correspondence prior to my stay. I received multiple emails asking me for feedback from my stay before I’d even gone there. Needless to say, getting the same email multiple times is somewhat annoying, especially when it isn’t relevant to me yet. However, it’s a small price to pay for the experience of staying at Oxford House.
Prices for the Oxford House Penthouse average at £200 per night. And don’t forget to check their other apartments for a variety of choices.
Flat screen TV, DVD
iPod docking station
Coffee, tea, sugar
Cooking utensils, inc pots and pans
Oil, salt, pepper
Ironing board, iron, clothes rack
Bedrooms and bathrooms:
X2 double, en-suite rooms (one with bath, one with walk in shower)
X1 guest toilet
Bedroom and bathroom linens, towels
Outdoor seating area and table