Serviced apartments london
Serviced apartments london
Staying in London hotels: the good, the bad, the ugly….and evil towel swans!


Serviced accommodation in London has become an increasing popular alternative to staying in hotels. In fact, it’s the fastest growing sector within the hospitality industry.

The latest figures from the GSAIR estimates there are now in excess of 1,022,984 serviced apartments worldwide (with a further 73,563 corporate housing units) in more than 13,164 locations. This compares to 826,759 apartments (with 70,300 corporate housing units) in 10,777 locations two years ago. These figures represent a significant increase in available inventory; 23.7 per cent growth compared to 10.5 per cent growth as published in the 6th edition.

But why is that?

Merino Hospitality decided to throw the spotlight on the whole topic of holiday and business accommodation choices. In particular, the pros and cons of hotel stays.

In a follow-up blog later this summer, we will look at the behaviour of hotel guests and some of the crazy and bizarre things that vacationers and business travellers get up to.

How hotels are trying to compete

The hotel industry has recognised that increasingly visitors opt for the home comforts, flexibility and privacy of serviced accommodation. This means that the big players are determined to wow them back, going all out to try to tempt people to book with them.

Ploys include creating uber chic lobbies and other public areas, adding a wide range of amenities in-house from masseuses to beauty stylists, and making dining experiences as memorable as possible.  While this is great for some with great (chic) lobbies, comes increased cost for the guest.

Another hotel development to impress guests, is the appearance of bedding menus! Yes really. You get a list of pillow and sheet options to choose from, including Egyptian cotton, linen or silk, and goose or duck down. Or how about pillows infused with lavender or camomile, or filled with water to regulate temperature?

However, for many visitors to London, having even more decisions to make is not always welcome!

Or, how about a bath butler? Some top hotels have introduced these to help guests create the perfect bathing experience. They also pass you a towel or robe when you have finished.  Apparently, some modern hotel guests are not interested in turning on their own taps and don’t mind strangers lurking while they bathe!

What are the best features of standard hotels?

To be honest, sometimes it’s the simple things that make hotel stays attractive.

In one survey by one holiday company, guests were asked to rate what they most appreciated from a hotel.

The most popular benefit on the list, was a free breakfast. Second was having a restaurant on site in general, and third was free wi-fi.

(Of course, the latter two are mute points for Merino’s many loyal guests, who know they get wi-fi as standard. And that they can prepare their own food or have meals delivered very easily.)

Next on the league table of hotel benefits, was parking and a 24-hour concierge desk. Swimming pools and bars also appeared in the top ten of things guests liked about hotel stays. Strangely free tea or coffee also made the list!

Interesting, the survey took this further and asked about in-room preferences. Guests put free Wi-Fi as the best hotel feature, followed by a shower, ample space, TV, air conditioning and then free tea and coffee. Having your room cleaned for you, premium bedding and a quality mattress also made the list.

Can serviced accommodation compete?

In case you didn’t guess, most of those things are true for serviced accommodation too, though you also get considerable additional space! On average, around 30% more room to relax in than hotel bedrooms offer.

Service apartments also generally work out a great deal more cost effective. Particularly as you enjoy well equipped kitchens, where you can prepare your own meal choices from the wonderful local produce available (for delivery) in London.  If you want to eat-in the rise of restaurant delivery services throughout London means that you can order from literally any restaurant.

For companies booking staff or business contacts into London accommodation, serviced apartments and houses can save them a huge amount over the course of a year.   They also provide a more amenable environment that is much closer to working from ‘home’.

In 2016, UK serviced apartments enjoyed 81% occupancy, which meant they outperformed hotel rooms (77.2%) There’s every reason to believe that this gap grew last year and will continue to expand in 2018.

So, I guess those free breakfasts (which you pay for in the price of your hotel anyway) are not such a big draw after all!!

What people hate about hotels

Other surveys have looked at what people DON’T like about staying in hotels.

One of the biggest complaints from experts in the industry may surprise you. Towel art! Yes really. Those swans and fans are considered by hospitality pundits to be way over the top. Fluffy, clean and luxurious towels should be placed in bathrooms, not screwed up to make cheesy sculptures.

The hospitality experts have also condemned the practice of bathtubs in bedrooms which creates unwelcome moisture and a lack of privacy.  Another complaint is the ancient practice of providing trouser presses. Who actually uses those?

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