Hotels might have been buoyant post the London games as occupancy levels reached a high in August 2012, but since then as the numbers staying in rooms has fallen they have had to streamline costs. Outlays need to be reduced, while the sector says it is going to focus more on traditional concepts like location, service and attention to detail. A new wave of stripped back hotels – pods – are opening in the capital which offer a basic experience of simply a bed, TV and minimal space. The location might be right but there is little in the way of comfort and luxury.
For business travellers who are relocating or are on contract with a firm in the capital, the idea of having to live in a box for anything more than a night is a chastening one. Hotels are eager to reduce their costs and by increasing rates in the next twelve months they could be set to increase their profits along with it. But what of the experience of the traveller? They do not want to draw a parallel line between cost and comfort. Even with a reduced budget, they want to be able to have a stylish and comfortable place to stay that meets their needs, rather than having to stay somewhere much smaller because they cannot afford the most expensive hotel rooms. The average daily hotel rate in 2014 is predicted to be £138.20. Add to this the incremental costs of WIFI and takeaway food and it’s hardly a budget price.
In the past twelve to 24 months, more business travellers have turned to serviced apartments. Often centrally located in prime spots, serviced apartments benefit from being more cost-effective over a longer stay. So for those on three to six month contracts, for example, a centrally based apartment is a better option than a hotel room at £138.20 a night. The lifestyle of a serviced apartment is more flexible and easier going on the purse – there is less of a reliance on restaurants and expenses.
Living space is also a major factor. While hotel rooms get smaller so that hoteliers can save costs, serviced apartments offer a larger living space, often a living and dining areas as well as a kitchen, bedroom and en-suite bathroom. Larger apartments with two or more bedrooms also have a family bathroom in addition to an en-suite. There is an average of 30% more space in a serviced apartment compared to a hotel room. A weekly housekeeping charge often ensures bedding is changed and the rooms are cleaned but other than that there is a greater degree of privacy. Security is tied in with this sense of privacy. It might have been a tabloid tale when the Casualty and Game of Thrones star Clive Mantle was attacked in a hotel but the difference is that many hotels are public places, where serviced apartments are closed with a fob or code entrance for added piece of mind.
For business travellers looking for an extended stay in London, the serviced apartment is an increasingly popular alternative to the hotel, and a rise in prices is likely to encourage that trend. Budgets have not returned to pre-2007 levels and it is unlikely expenses accounts ever will, especially when businesses realise it is an avenue where they can save money.
From: Clarendon Serviced Apartments
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