We are just back from London, Rome, Florence and Paris where we stayed in apartments. Our apartment in London was way out west in Barking just catty corner from the Barking Tube station. It's a neighborhood with a very inner city feel, not touristy, and caucasians are out numbered by, blacks, Indians, Arabs, and others. The streets were full of very young couples with children and the neighborhood felt very safe. Our apartment was small, but had everything we needed to cook and to wash clothes. The grocery was about three blocks away. The apartment neighborhood provided a nice counterpoint to the touristy areas of London where we spent our days. The one draw back is that the apartment was in Metro Zone 6 so going back and forth more than once a day would have been cost prohibitive. But the trip in is just 20 minutes. For a family of four, staying in an apartment costs about one third of what hotels would and it made our dinners about as expensive as they would have been at home. The one real memorable bit about the apartment is that the washer/drier (all one small machine) locks when running and on the last night in the apartment it would not unlock and let us have our clothes. the manager had to disassemble the machine at eight in the evening to retrieve our things. He was not a mechanic and brought no tools, so the process was both nervous making and funny to watch. We were grateful to have the clothes though, as we had four more weeks of travel to go. We did The Eye, Tower of London, London Bridge, Imperial War Museum, Churchill Rooms, National Gallery, Tate Britain, Globe, British Museum, St. Pauls, Westminster Abby, Greenwich, Hampton Court, Oxford, and Canterbury. I think five weeks before the Olympics London was quieter than it usually is in June.