For the first time, we are considering renting a flat in London using the website, vrbo.com. This site is listed in Rick's London guidebook but I have found many complaints about it on the internet. Anyone have experience with this site? Also, the flat we liked is in the Kensington/Chelsea area near a canal, not far from a tube station - is this a good area to stay in? Thank you for any input!!!
We used vrbo to rent a private room in a very small guesthouse for most of the month of December. We had no problems whatsoever with either VRBO or the owner of the guesthouse. The Chelsea/Kensington area is fine to stay, especially if you are close to the tube and or buses which you will need for getting to/from the city center.
I use vrbo & homeaway about 3-4 times a year and have yet to have an issue, but it doesn't mean it can't happen. London is a hotbed of false rental companies so you need to do a little research on each unit. I rented a 3 bedroom flat in London a few weeks ago using homeaway (I think same company as vrbo) in South Kensington and had no issues but I did my homework. When you narrow down a few flats, google names of the owner, addresses, anything unique like the listing agent and see what pops up. Also, the tripadvisor London forum folks do a fantastic job of calling out the fake rentals. I'd do a search there too. Not trying to scare you but there has been some real horror stories this past year on scams in London but I wouldn't let it stop me from renting. VRBO also offers an insurance polic so check that out if it eases your mind. Have a great time! Kensington/Chelsea is a great area.
Chelsea/Kensington is slightly further out than I like to stay, but it's a nice area, rather upscale. Also convenient for visiting the V&A, Natural History, and Science museums, or going to Royal Albert Hall. On VRBO, you might feel more comfortable with places that accept credit cards. This gives you some leverage if things don't go as planned. You might also want to pay for their Rental Guarantee, particularly if you choose a place that doesn't accept credit cards. Most VRBO rentals work out fine, but as you pointed out, there have been some horror stories. Some flats are misrepresented and some landlords are less than honest. If you don't feel comfortable with VRBO, try another site, such as Slow Travel, http://goo.gl/pr9hR You could also go with a rental ageny instead of an apartment listing service. Unlike VRBO, they will assign an agent to work with you. The apartments have been vetted also, although disappointments could still occur. Three reputable agencies are : Ivy Lettings: http://ivylettings.com/ Farnum&Christ: http://farnum-christ.com/ London Connection: http://www.londonconnection.com/main_menu.asp Another option in that area is Nell Gwynn apartments. I haven't stayed there, so can't personally recommend. You can rent from an agency or book directly: http://www.nghapartments.co.uk/ Leslie gives some good tips for checking out rentals. Also go to Google Streetview and check out the address and neighborhood. It can be quite informative. Good luck!
Thank you all so much for the information, it is very helpful and good to know some have successfully used this website. I also am looking at airbnb.com and will be careful to check everything out and then hope for the best! So looking forward to seeing London!! :0)
We have used VRBO in Punta Mita Mexico, Salzburg, Paris, Bath, and London with no problem at all. Our flat in London was in the Kensington area and was great. It was through Londonconnections as previously mentioned, which is located in Salt Lake City. Good Luck
Don't know how many people in your party...We rented from holiday-rentals.co.uk a couple of years ago. The property #430330. Terrific apartment right in the theater district; close to Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, etc.
The owner is super nice and very helpful. We will try to stay there the next time we are in London.
A couple of years ago I took my adult chldren/spouses to London and I rented a flat in Kensington through an outfit called English Manner, http://www.english-manner.com The flat was great, we had a blast. The best part was everything was done in dollars and credit card through their office in California. The contracts were very easy, terms reasonable, and everything went just as expected. They even arranged our pickup at the airport and stocked the place with some starter groceries. Contrasted with the experience of doing the same thing for Paris the second week, English Manner was a dream to work with. It's been a while but it may be worth a look.
I've used airbnb in, well, I'm losing count, about 11 diff places since 2011. Some were awesome, some were...ok. Most were shared accom, a few were separate apts. My tips...
1. Always read all the reviews! Do people complain about noise or lack of cleanliness?
2. Check out the maps tab to get an idea of where it is and how close to major sites/public transport.
3. Use the street view tab if it's there to check out the neighbourhood and see if it looks sketchy or not (I've passed on a few because the neighbourhood looked a little 'scary').
4. Make sure it has the amenities you want...laundry? Use of kitchen? Air? TV/wifi? Parking? Smoking or no?
That said, we've had some awesome deals and have met some great people!