London is getting ready; it’s digging, building, expanding, erecting, tearing down, wiring, and preparing for the world’s summer party – the Olympics. During my visit there this summer it was evident the moment I walked off the train in St. Pancras station.
My heart went a flutter when I looked up and saw the 5 shiny, colorful rings placed high in the rafters. That’s when I was reminded that London was getting ready for the world to arrive; so many nationalities from Europe would be arriving on a train like I did that morning. They will be pouring into London with anticipation and excitement to see the opening ceremonies.
When I stepped outside the station it hit me…jackhammers and horns invaded my ears and I looked around to see more cranes around me than trees. London was preparing rapidly and I wondered if they would ever get done in time. It reminded me of when I visited Beijing in 2007 as they were hectically putting the finishing touches on their big Olympic party preparations. Somehow they pulled it off and I’m sure London will do the same.
I looked around this already crowded, heavily touristed city and wondered – where will all of these people stay during the Olympics? I’m sure some Europeans may just take the train in for the day and not even bother with accommodations in London when it’s only an 2 hour train ride to Brussels or Paris. However people coming in from further distances will most certainly be fighting for hotel rooms and hostel bunks.
If you are looking for Olympic lodging, then don’t forget to check out the less obvious places such as Couchsurfing or Tripping (hospitality networks where locals invite you into their homes for cultural exchange), and certainly don’t forget short-term apartment rentals.
In my recent trip to London our Mongol Rally sponsor, Oh London, put us up in one of their short-term apartment rentals. Apartments have turned into my favorite ways to travel lately. This summer it was the perfect way to experience London, save money, and be ultra comfortable. Four of us stayed in a local neighborhood close to the tube, and were able to save money by eating in and doing our own laundry.
It’s most convenient to use apartments when you are traveling with a group of 3+ people or are staying in a location for an extended period of time.
For the 4 of us we had plenty of room to spread out, and had two bathrooms. We could all sit in the living room and utilize the wireless in comfy chairs. The cost of the apartment was about the same or slightly less than a hotel in which 4 of us would have been crowded into one little hotel room with two beds all sharing one bathroom!
If you are in a location for a longer period of time (5+ days), then you can also save money by going to the local grocery store and buying your own food which can be utilized over a number of days. Even if you just plan on eating breakfast in the apartment you can save money. Think about buying one bag of coffee for $12 that can be used for the whole 5 days of your stay or stopping at Starbucks and buying a latte every day at $3.50 for 17.50 multiplied by 4 people equaling $70 just for coffee!
While we stayed in our apartment in London we made dinner in our swank kitchen every night as well as breakfast and really only went out for lunch during the day as we were site seeing. It saved us oodles of cash…to be spent on better things like bottles of wine!
If you are worried that you will miss out on having a hotel staff or concierge, we didn’t miss that attention at all. When we arrived at the apartment there was a big binder with loads of information about nearby restaurants, shopping, bars, and maps.
If you are considering a trip to London this summer to watch the summer games, then start to consider your lodging choices early and make sure that you don’t overlook short-term apartment stays in London as a great place to rest your weary Olympic feet.
Learn more about the pros and cons of utilizing apartments when you travel.