Looking for something bigger than the traditional hotel room for your large family during your trip to London with kids? Renting a flat or a house can be an economical and practical alternative, and more space for everyone means fewer frayed nerves! (To read more about how to keep the peace between siblings while on vacation, click here.)
Besides the benefits of living in a home with separate living areas and bedrooms, most come with fully equipped kitchens, so holiday rentals also give families the chance to save money on restaurant meals. The downside is that many are located outside of the city centre, and aren’t as conveniently located as hotels.
We love renting homes when we visit London, however, renting a flat or house unseen to stay in during your family trip to London can be risky. Here are our tips for finding the perfect holiday rental in London:
The Neighborhood: Thoroughly research the area you’ll be staying in before booking. London is a great city but, as with all large urban areas, there are places you’ll rather avoid. If the flat or house is being offered at a rock bottom price, there’s probably a reason, and I’ll bet you don’t want to be living next to it for a week.
Check Google Maps using the flat’s address to view the street you’ll be potentially living on. Is it residential? Are the houses neat and the gardens well tended? If you’re renting privately, can the landlord provide reviews or references from previous guests? If you’re renting from a site such as holidaylettings.co.uk, what have other guests posted as reviews?
Ask the landlord or agency questions, such as:
- Does the flat have WiFi?
- Does it have a landline?
- Is there cable TV?
- Is there a garden, and is it shared?
- Will it be cleaned while you’re staying?
- Will the linens be changed or is it up to you to wash them?
- Who is responsible for taking out the garbage and the recycling?
- Are there instruction manuals for operating the stove and washing machine?
- How will you contact the landlord if there’s a problem?
- Where is the nearest train, tube or bus station?
- Are there amenities, like grocery and drug stores nearby?
- If you’re renting a car, does the flat come with parking?
If you’re visiting in summer months, note that in London most homes don’t have air conditioning or screens on the windows. If you have little kids who could climb out a window left open to cool the apartment, look for a flat on the ground floor rather than the first or second floors.
Other Tenants: As many of London’s houses have been converted into units, find out about your potential neighbors and ask if the unit has been soundproofed between the floors. If you have little kids who will be going to bed early, are the other tenants quiet? Will your neighbors will be bothered by noise like footsteps, television, conversation or crying children?
While renting a holiday flat or house requires a bit more research then booking a hotel room, it’s a terrific chance to live like a Londoner and experience the city in a unique way. I love the extra space our family has in rented flats, and while I can’t say that doing laundry rates high on my excitement bucket list of things to do on vacation, having a washer and dryer means I pack less, which makes navigating the airport with four children far easier.
A gated outdoor space, like a garden, allows the children playtime they wouldn’t have in a hotel, and if there are other kids on the street you’re living on there’s the opportunity to meet new friends.
And while we don’t eat a home-cooked dinner every night (heck, I’m on vacation, too!), arranging a grocery delivery from one of London’s main grocery stores like Tesco, Sainsburys or Morrisons, saves us a trip to the grocery store and provides us with staples like fruit and veg, milk, bread, breakfast foods, quick dinners like pasta and sauce, and snack foods for when we’re out sightseeing.
Holiday Lettings is owned by Trip Advisor and offers a searchable database of privately rented homes and flats. If you’re looking to save money by staying outside of London’s city center, properties in London’s outlying boroughs can be easily found at Holiday Lettings, and each listing includes visitor reviews.
Room for 5 is a site for large families like mine who need extra space. The site lists hotels, guest houses, and serviced apartments.
Kid and Coe offers a curated list of distinctive and stylish family homes in London, perfect for visitors who want to live like Londoners during their family vacation. Visit to view photos, availability, and pricing.
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