It takes something rather spectacular to halt my loquaciousness in full flow. I talk to my detriment – job interviews, theatre visits, a rather memorable trip to see Titanic in the 90s: all ruined by my unerring flow of speech. Standing on the balcony of the Cheval Three Quays apartment belonging to villas.com, however, I was remarkably quiet. London, stretched out before me, held me captivated. To my left: Tower Bridge. Straight ahead: the HMS Belfast and the Shard. To my right: the London Eye.
From this vantage point, the reason for villas.com quickly catching up with sister site bookings.com’s popularity dawned on me: if I were to rent this place out with five friends, it’d cost less than £100 a night per head and, yet, here was a view from a private balcony to rival any I’ve seen from a five star hotel.
The interior did nothing to counter the impression made by the huge wrap-around balcony – the three bedrooms are furnished with floor-to-ceiling windows from which to take in London, the bathrooms boast LCD TVs (in case you tire of watching boats traverse the Thames – yes, even the loo has quite a view), and the kitchen is fully stocked should anyone staying wish to whip up a feast. Essentially, you have yourself the perfect retreat for hen dos/weekends away/general enjoyment of London.
The newly-launched bookings site is riding the zeitgeist for renting; we Brits like to holiday in groups and self-catering properties are by far most popular, according to stats gathered from the sites. Why? Aside from the aforementioned relative thriftiness of renting, one’s beloved pets can usually come along (on villas.com over 90,000 pet-friendly properties around the globe are listed) and larger groups are easily accommodated together in a rental.
I asked the team at the website about the process of booking and how it varies from a hotel. Essentially, once on the website, listings are weighted by customer feedback. If everyone who’s stayed at the rental loved it, it’ll appear at the top of your search. Once booked, you receive instant confirmation without having to back and forth with the owner. Any problems when there and you can make use of the around-the-clock customer service team. Easy peasy, then.
The first thing I did when I got home was to try to book the Cheval Three Quays for New Year’s Eve. The fireworks would be spectacular (not to mention crowd-free) from the balcony. It was unsurprisingly booked up. But next year, my friends, I believe you’ll find me seeing in 2016 from the balcony silently in awe of the revelry unfolding around me. Unless you get there first…
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