Vive Unique in the Press
Vive Unique Press Releases
Earn Effortless Income – Short Lettings can be lucrative - 30.05.2014
Country Life interviews Vive Unique, to look at how homeowners are earning effortless income, renting out their homes while they’re away, through a fully managed service. See more.
Make the most of your empty home during the summer and dip a toe into the world of mini-lets-they're a lot less hassle than you might think, says Roderick Easdale
Recent months have seen rocketing popularity for renting somewhere to stay for just a few days. These aren't dedicated rental properties, but people's own homes that have been vacated for a wee while, perhaps because the owner is away on their own travels or because they have two homes and divide their time between them.
In the past few years, agencies have been founded to serve this demand. One is One Fine Stay, whose Madeleine Ito explains: ‘We launched in London in May 2010 with just six homes and now we have thousands of properties across London, New York, Paris and Los Angeles.' Vive Unique's Jonny Morris reports: ‘The number of homeowners signing up to our service has increased fourfold over the past year.' And Camilla Shaughnessy, who launched Eventful Stays in December 2010, comments: ‘Our business has grown hugely in recent months and we could fill our larger properties 10 times over.'
Guy van der Westhuizen, who established Ivy Lettings in June 2009, reckons 85% of his customers are overseas tourists, nearly two-thirds of them American, the rest mainly Australian. Mr Morris has found the same: ‘Our clients are typically families visiting from North America or Australia for a week or two, so properties that can accommodate four or more guests are popular. Four- or five-bedroom properties are also in demand. Kensington & Chelsea, Camden and Islington are some of our more popular destinations. We focus primarily on neighbourhoods in Zones 1 or 2, although Richmond and Wimbledon are also hotspots.' Mr van der Westhuizen says: ‘Tourist areas such as Pimlico, Victoria, Belgravia, Notting Hill, Bayswater and South Kensington are most in demand. We mainly do Zone 1, but further out can also be attractive when there's quick access to the centre.'
Eventful Stays doesn't have the London-centric focus of other agencies, but provides accommodation near events and festivals. ‘Many owners simply rent their property out to coincide with a nearby festival, whereas others list their homes for dates throughout the year,' explains Mrs Shaughnessy. ‘The Cheltenham Festival is hugely popular and equally in demand this year are places for Royal Ascot, Henley, Glastonbury and the Rewind Festivals in Perth and Henley.'
Owners need only make properties available for a few weeks a year. Typically, the agency will handle all bookings and payments and can clean before the guests come and put its own linen on the beds, meet the guests on arrival, then, after the stay, clean up and restore the owner's bed linen. The agency can also provide a 24-hour response service to deal with emergencies such as malfunctioning boilers.
Although Eventful Stays works on a 15% commission basis, most firms agree a payment for owners for every night booked. ‘We agree a fixed nightly rate, which varies from about £100 per night to more than £1,000. This allows us to vary the amount we charge guests according to factors such as stay length and seasonality,' explains Miss Ito. ‘For a two-bedroom property in London, owners can expect to receive about £100 a night,' confirms Mr van der Westhuizen.
The advantage to owners is that they normally need to do little other than vacate their home. Unlike dedicated rental properties, where personalization is often a no-no, in this case, guests expect to move into someone else's home, with family photographs and the like. ‘We're particularly popular among families who appreciate the space and character of real homes,' explains Miss Ito. Sometimes, owners might be encouraged to declutter a bit, but that's about it, and owners can make certain areas off-limits by advance agreement.
‘Homeowners renting out their property just a few weeks a year can expect to earn between £6,000 and £12,000. It's an effortless way to earn extra income,' enthuses Mr Morris.
Say ‘I love you’ Vive-Uniquely, in Paris, this Valentine’s Day - 30.01.2013
Each home has been carefully handpicked by their Unique Homes Research Team for its personality, style and central location, for guests to enjoy a more local and authentic experience from the comfort of a real Parisian home. Guests can treat a loved one and enquire about a range of ‘In Home Services’ including fridge fills, champagne & flowers and airport pick-ups for a special and memorable stay.
Vive Unique’s properties are dotted throughout the Capital, with the most popular neighbourhoods including St Germain for its upscale boutiques and restaurants, Le Marais for the Pompidou and other art galleries, the Champs-Elysee for world-famous shopping, as well as the trendier neighbourhoods of Canal St Martin & the Latin Quarter which have a younger and more bohemian vibe.
Claire Whisker, Co-Founder of Vive Unique comments:
‘After successful launches in London and Barcelona, we are delighted to add Paris to our collection of exciting cities. Paris has year-round demand and is a popular choice for couples on Valentine’s Day as well as groups of friends and families at other times of the year. We are proud to be able to offer our guests the chance to stay in some of the most unique and stylish homes in Paris.’
With prices starting from as little as £55 per night, www.viveunique.com offers great value as an interesting and cost effective alternative to a hotel. This boutique apartment in Le Marais, with a balcony, is available from £141 per night:
For those of you looking further afield this Valentine’s Day, Vive Unique also offers apartments in Barcelona, Rome, Florence, Lisbon, Amsterdam and other popular European destinations.
SAVVY HOMEOWNERS TURN HOMES INTO HOTELS TO OFFSET RISING COST OF LIVING - 29.11.2012
Inflation levels jumped to a 5 month high of 2.7% in October (significantly above the 2% inflation target) as the rising cost of living continues to hit UK families. See more.
The Office of National Statistics also reported a sharp rise in the Retail Price Index (which includes housing costs) from 2.6% to 3.2%, as mortgage rates continue to rise. Mortgage repayments, last month, soared to a 42 month high, affecting 1.5 million families, on standard variable rate (SVR) mortgages. Energy prices are also on the up, with the UK’s second largest energy group, SSE, raising energy tariffs last month and increasing fuel bills by up to £100 per year for 5 million households.
These rising living costs are eating into the disposable incomes of many families who are cutting back on luxury items like holidays and home improvements. However, many families are becoming increasingly entrepreneurial in finding ways to offset these rising costs and maintain their standard of living. One trend that has become increasingly popular over the last couple of years is to rent out a spare room or an entire home to paying guests from abroad, as savvy homeowners turn their homes into hotels.
Claire Whisker, Co-Founder of Vive Unique (www.viveunique.com) the specialist home rental company, comments:
‘Many of our clients rent out their homes while they are away on holiday and use the extra income to pay for their travels or to pay for new kitchens and other home improvements. They are used to a high standard of living and see home rentals as a way of maintaining affluent lifestyles in difficult economic times’.
There are a number of websites out there where you can advertise a spare room or just a sofa in the living room for a few days, and you can even serve up breakfast if you want to. Vive Unique offer a more bespoke service where they will look after everything for you, while you’re away. They offer guests a hotel-style service, complete with fresh linens, towels and toiletries, as well as a concierge. Claire continues:
‘We take care of everything from the booking, to check-in and check-out, and everything in between. We prepare every home and return it to our homeowners, just as they left it. Bespoke insurance is also included as standard for our homeowners’.
With expected hikes in food and utility bills to come, the squeeze on households looks set to tighten further but the outlook for home rentals is a positive one for homeowners in difficult times. We look forward to the emergence of other innovative ideas to offset these rising costs and we expect the trend of home rentals to carry on and gain in popularity next year.
NUMBER OF SECOND HOMES IN THE CAPITAL SOARS ABOVE ¼ MILLION, WITH 63,000 PEOPLE OWNING TWO HOMES IN LONDON - 30.10.2012
Last Monday the Evening Standard reported that ‘nearly a quarter of a million people have a second home in London which they only live in part-time’. See more.
A large number of these second homes are bought by overseas investors, often from the Middle East and Russia, who view prime central London as a secure long-term investment. Mayfair and Belgravia in particular, are popular with these buyers and many have no intention of living in them at all.
Families with both a London home and a second holiday home make up the largest share of this figure but a staggering 63,000 properties are accounted for by homeowners with two addresses in the city, splitting their time between homes in two different boroughs.
Many of these are simply left sitting vacant for large periods of the year. However, some innovative homeowners are turning to specialist home rental companies like Vive Unique (www.viveunique.com) who offer a flexible solution, enabling homeowners to earn extra income from their homes by renting them out to guests when they’re not using them.
Vive Unique take care of everything says Claire Whisker, Co-Founder and Director:
‘We take care of everything from the booking, to check-in and check-out, and everything in between, we prepare every home and return it to our homeowners, just as they left it. Bespoke insurance is also included as standard for our homeowners.’
And it’s not just second homeowners who are making use of a growing trend in home rentals. Claire goes on to say:
‘Many of our homeowners made tens of thousands of pounds last year by simply renting out their place when they were away on holiday or travelling for work. Our more entrepreneurial homeowners are taking the opportunity to stay with friends and family for a few days, while renting out their homes to paying guests. We are also seeing a lot of boyfriends moving in with their girlfriends for a week or two and vice versa.’
Vive Unique currently manage a portfolio in the capital worth nearly a ¼ of a billion pounds and are expecting a busy Christmas period with London top of the list for many travellers following the success of the Olympic Games.
SPECIALIST HOME RENTAL COMPANY, VIVE UNIQUE, EXPANDS RAPIDLY FOLLOWING SUCCESS OF OLYMPIC GAMES - 16.10.2012
Launched last year, home rental specialist Vive Unique has grown rapidly and now manages a portfolio of exclusive properties around London worth approximately 1/4 of a billion pounds. See more.
The idea was the brainchild of Director and Co-Founder Claire Whisker, a former lawyer turned entrepreneur, with the aim of helping homeowners earn extra income from their homes in difficult economic times. The company provides a fully managed service, enabling homeowners to rent out their homes while they are away on holiday or travelling for work.
'We take care of everything from the booking, to check-in and check-out, and everything in between. We prepare every home and return it to our homeowners, just as they left it. Bespoke insurance is also included as standard for our homeowners.'
For homeowners who would like to get more involved, meet their guests and earn greater returns, a flexible 'bookings only' service is available too.
The majority of Vive Unique's homes are based in Central and West London with Notting Hill, Chelsea and Kensington proving very popular. Other areas such as Camden, Islington and London's fashionable East End are also attracting interest. Although the Olympics acted as a springboard for the business, London still has a strong year-round demand for home rentals. Claire continues:
'Initially we had a lot of interest from homeowners looking to rent out their homes for the Olympics, who were then coming to us to rent out their homes at other times of the year as well. Half term, Easter, Christmas and the summer holiday season are particularly popular times of year for our guests who are mainly affluent travellers and families coming over from the US and Australia. In the last year we have helped many of our homeowners to earn tens of thousands of pounds.'
The company aims to double its London portfolio over the next 12 months and has started to expand its collection abroad to other exciting destinations. They are expecting a busy half term and Christmas period with London top of the list for many travellers following the success of the Games.
VIVE UNIQUE, THE UPMARKET AIRBNB EXPANDS TO BARCELONA - 09.10.2012
Boutique home-rental website Vive Unique launches Barcelona with a standout collection of stylish apartments
Launched last year in London's Silicon Roundabout, Vive Unique has grown rapidly and now has a strong boutique London offering. Other exciting destinations, starting today with Barcelona, will be added soon. See more.
Vive Unique researches and sources a handpicked collection of unique apartment rentals, penthouses and townhouses in city centre locations, which it offers as an upmarket hotel alternative.
Its members earn money renting out their homes while they're away and connect with an affluent community of travellers around the world.
All homes go through an approval process and guests can leave reviews on the site so that the highest level of quality is maintained.
Guests can also enquire about 'In Home Services' for fridge fills, babysitters and airport pick ups etc., available in a selection of homes.
WHAT IS THE OLYMPIC LEGACY FOR LONDON’S PROPERTY MARKET? - 16.08.2012
Has the rental market superseded the property ladder?
The official London2012 website states that ‘the Olympic and Paralympic Games have been the catalyst for the physical transformation of East London’ raising the profile of the area and bringing it to the attention of the world. See more.
Large scale infrastructure projects, improvements to transport links, shopping facilities and local amenities have transformed previously neglected neighbourhoods and have made them more desirable. But what effect has the Olympics had on East London’s property market and London as a whole?
You might expect East End house prices in the run up to the Olympics to have increased significantly. Interestingly however, according to property website Zoopla, property in Newham (one of six dedicated Olympic host boroughs in East London) has decreased in value by 3.8% in the last 4 years. It’s a similar story for Hackney which is down 2.25% and Tower Hamlets which has increased, but only by 1.79%. This compares with the overall average for London of a 1.79% increase.
Areas such as Kensington (up 5% on Zoopla), Islington (up 3.16% on Zoopla) and Camden (up 3.37% on Zoopla) have performed better over the same time scale and remain popular with buyers and particularly with overseas investors who view London as a safe investment in volatile European and World Markets. Notable, is an increase in sales activity specifically during the Olympic period. Estate agency Marsh & Parsons reported an increase in property sales activity throughout London, up 23% on last year's figures and 35% on the same 16 day period in 2010.
Looking to the future and the legacy of the Games, CEO of Marsh & Parsons, Peter Rollings predicts the Olympics ‘will have a significant long-term impact on London’s appeal as a place to live for both domestic and international buyers.’
'STAY' CONNECTED AS LONDON HOSTS THE WORLD’S FIRST SOCIAL MEDIA OLYMPIC GAMES - 09.08.2012
How has social media changed the travel industry?
Unless you have been living under a rock, you will know that the UK is currently hosting one of the most publicised Olympic Games of all time. There is so much opportunity to catch the live action, interact with the athletes and have your say that the British media are dubbing London 2012 the first 'social media Games'. See more.
Since the Beijing Games of 4 years ago, sites like Twitter and Facebook have grown exponentially. Today 140 million tweets are sent out daily compared to just 60,000 tweets 4 years ago. Facebook now has over 900 million users, or 9 x the 100 million users it had 4 years ago. The emergence of other popular social media sites such as Pinterest and the growth of Youtube, means athletes and fans can share their experiences visually and instantly with an estimated 10,000 athletes from 200 competing countries getting involved.
The extent of social media at the Games is perhaps best encapsulated by the London Eye’s 'Energy of the Nation' project, aptly named 'Tweety 12'. The wheel reflects public opinion on the Games by using a nightly light show activated by positive and negative comments on Twitter - so far 1,055,446 Tweets from 204 countries.
The smooth running and success of the Games owes much to this onset of social media, where commuters have been given live access to transport news, ticket sales have been boosted (where empty seats would otherwise have been left vacant), and security updates have been received instantly.
EMPTY SEATS AT OLYMPIC OPENING WEEKEND SPARKS RESALE ON LOCOG - 01.08.2012
Hoteliers drop rates to fill unsold rooms
If, on Friday, you too were transfixed by Danny Boyle’s breath-taking opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, then you were one of more than a billion people worldwide who watched the London 2012 Olympic Games kick off.See more.
If you also continued to watch sports coverage on NBC over the weekend, you will have noticed how many ‘sold out’ seats remained empty across a range of events. Nationwide disappointment ensued as it was reported students, teachers and even armed forces, (most of whom had already been drafted in to solve the G4S fiasco before the games even began) had been called in to fill seats to cover up embarrassing ‘no shows’.
Chairman of LOCOG, Lord Sebastian Coe, was reported as saying the majority of empty seats were caused by Olympic athletes, federations, journalists and officials collectively known as the Olympic family, failing to turn up for pre-allocated spaces. Gymnastics, basketball and swimming were some of the sports that suffered most with up to 25 seats remaining empty in one block of the aquatics centre during Michael Phelps’ silver medal win in Sunday night’s 4x100metres freestyle race.
Despite this, some have praised LOCOG with reacting quickly to the seating crisis without hiding the problem and the British Olympic Association, whose president is Lord Moynihan, even put forward the idea of reselling tickets if people failed to show up to seats 30 minutes into an event. There were also calls for sponsors to be fined for not showing up to use corporate tickets. Organisers have since revealed that some 3000 Olympic tickets have been reclaimed from international sporting associations and put back on sale for the general public. Jackie Brock-Doyle, LOCOG’s Director of Communications, has ensured they ‘will do this every day to make sure as many seats as possible are filled’.
Although this is a headache for Olympic organisers; for those of us who weren’t able to get tickets the first or second time round, it could be third time lucky! According to the Metro the world's largest free newspaper, anyone who wants to go to the Olympics still has the chance with over 100,000 tickets still available. Tickets to events such as sailing, handball and gymnastics were again up for sale on the LOCOG website, as were return style tickets at the Olympic Park. These are tickets already used by spectators who leave an event early that are resold at a lower price – currently £5 ($7.90) for adults and £1 ($1.60) for children. For all information on how to purchase tickets, or return them for resale, go to the official London 2012 website here: Purchase Tickets
With fewer people arriving in London than was estimated, Olympic seats aren’t the only places remaining empty. Reduced foot flow in central and west London has forced hotel prices to plummet. Trivago, a global hotel comparison site, shows hoteliers have slashed their prices by a further 17% from an average of £242 ($380) per night to just £201 ($315) in the past three weeks, despite being at 70% capacity. This has also had a knock on effect in the vacation rental market, with companies or owners reducing rates and lifting minimum stay restrictions to attract business.
Vive Unique, the booking specialist for stylish home rentals, is offering this beautiful 4 bed family home, minutes from the action at the Olympic Village, at a reduced rate of £35 ($54) per person per night, based on 9 people sharing: Islington Glamour! Wolsey Road
That’s cheaper than a single room at a 2 star hotel in the West End. With access to the London Overground train line at both Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction, you are just 22 minutes away from the Olympic Park and the expansive Westfield Shopping centre in Stratford. With a large variety of restaurants, shops, cinemas and even a Playworld there’s more than enough to keep the kids entertained when you’re not cheering on your team at one of the many sporting events. This is one of a number of properties with last minute availability in the East London area.
Vive Unique is a specialist booking website for stylish home rentals. With a handpicked collection of apartments and townhouses in London guests enjoy a more authentic and boutique experience. With personal recommendations for the local area, each home offers an exclusive living experience and the chance to live like a local while the owner is away. Homeowners who wish to market their homes and connect with affluent travellers around the globe, can list for free and earn money while they’re not using their homes. Please visit www.viveunique.com
WANTING TO ESCAPE THE UK DURING THE OLYMPICS? - 24.07.2012
A strong pound and weak demand in the Eurozone offers plenty of last minute deals on the continent
Millions of British holidaymakers are expected to escape the country during the Olympics, The Telegraph reports, despite the efforts of the Government and the sponsors of London 2012 to persuade more people to take a holiday at home. Although VisitEngland’s ‘staycation’ campaign encouraged people to enjoy a holiday in their own backyard, research by tour operators and travel agents reveals that the campaign has not had a significant impact on Britons’ travel habits. See more.
For those of us who haven’t yet booked a holiday this year or are thinking of a last minute short break, now might be the best time to do it. Continued trouble in the Eurozone means a strong pound and more Euros for the British traveller. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) reported that Britons will get 11.5% more value for their money compared to last year. Since July 2011 alone, the Euro has fallen steadily in line with the declining economy from about 1.14 to the pound to its current figure of 1.27; a decent ascension in only 1 year. The last time the Euro was this high was 2008.
Hotel rates on the continent have also been falling in recent weeks as demand from the usually more affluent parts of Europe has tailed off. It appears that, for many of our European counterparts, a ‘staycation’ is the only option this year as the Euro crisis takes its toll.
According to ABTA there was a 20% rise in holiday searches in June compared with last year and for British travellers, there are some great opportunities for last minute breaks and the chance to enjoy some typically expensive and luxurious holidays, for significantly less. According to the Trivago hotel price index, average prices for hotels in most European cities have fallen in the last couple of months. From May to July this year the average overnight accommodation price in Rome fell from £143 to £102, in Venice £218 to £160, in Lisbon £90 to £71 and in Barcelona £133 to £106.
It would seem that some of the best offers are available in Spain.
- In Madrid, The Hotel Abalu costs upward of £59; with other less quirky properties coming in at the £30-£50 mark
- In Valencia, both 4 and 5 star properties range from £42-£72 per night with one even offering a night at a remarkably low £23.
- Cosmopolitan Barcelona offers the well-located Wilson Boutique Hotel from only £79 per night
If Spain is where you want to head to this year but you’re looking for something special and a little bit different, Vive Unique offers a handpicked collection of stylish home rentals in the Catalan capital of Barcelona. A designer penthouse apartment with sea views and close to the city centre sleeps 6 and rents from £46 per person per night: Beach Front Apartment, Barcelona
So whether you choose to stay at home and soak up the atmosphere (and the rain) of the Games or escape the crush and head off to sunnier climes – the prospect of picking up a good deal has never looked brighter!
COMING TO LONDON THIS SUMMER BUT NOT FOR THE OLYMPICS? - 11.07.2012
London has plenty else to offer this summer, with some great last minute deals
An estimated 5.3 million more visitors are set to visit Britain during July and August this year compared to the same period in 2011…and the majority are coming to see the Olympics. However, if you missed out on a ticket or just left it all to the last minute, don’t worry, there are still plenty of opportunities to enjoy a host of festivals and cultural events in the Capital. See more.
The TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice survey for 2012 named London as the best city in the world and with such a diverse range of attractions, it’s easy to see why. For art lovers among you, why not head over to the Tate Modern to see the latest Damien Hirst exhibition running until the 9th September? If world-class theatre is more your taste, ten London venues will be showcasing the World Shakespeare Festival which is running right through until October. The Notting Hill Carnival, over the weekend of the 26th and 27th August, is Europe’s biggest street festival. Or if you’re looking to soak up some of the Olympic atmosphere, there will be big screens showing the Games in Hyde Park, Victoria Park and Trafalgar Square.
With such offerings on in the Capital, there were initial concerns over a shortage of accommodation, but trouble in the Eurozone has meant many would-be-travellers have chosen to stay at home this year. Accordingly, hotels are reducing their rates to attract last minute bookers and there are some good deals to be had. www.hotels.com claim room rates in London have fallen by a quarter in the last month. For the budget traveller, couch-surfing is becoming an increasingly popular option or, if you are looking for something a bit different, sites like www.viveunique.com have great offers on upmarket home rentals, from as little as $80 per night.
With the Olympics just around the corner and having already played host to the Diamond Jubilee and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in recent months, whatever your reason for visiting London, 2012 is set to be a year to remember!
Vive Unique is a specialist booking website for unique and upmarket home rentals. With a handpicked collection of apartments and townhouses in London, Barcelona, Paris, Berlin and Rome, guests enjoy a more authentic and boutique experience. Guests stay in real homes and live like a local while the owner is away. With personal recommendations for the local area, each home offers a stylish living experience and excellent value.
Homeowners who wish to market their homes and connect with affluent travellers around the globe, can list for free and earn money while they’re away. Please visit www.viveunique.com
OLYMPIC TICKET SCANDAL COULD MEAN SECOND CHANCE FOR DISAPPOINTED FANS & A SURGE IN LAST-MINUTE TRAVEL TO THE GAMES - 21-06-2012
Thousands could still get tickets to top events as illegal ticketing exposed
Those left disappointed at missing out on tickets to the London Olympics may get another chance to buy tickets to some of the best events, including the 100m final, if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) decides to confiscate those tickets involved in the scandal. See more.
Following the Sunday Times exposing 27 ticket agents illegally selling passes for up to ten times their retail value, an official investigation has been launched and there is much speculation that these tickets may appear on LOCOG? resale platform in the coming weeks 50 per cent available to UK buyers and the remainder spread worldwide.
For those lucky enough to get a last-minute ticket to the event of the year, finding somewhere to stay in the capital may seem like a marathon itself, with only 5 weeks to go. However, according to Expedia, LOCOG is expected to release a further 12,000 hotel rooms, and combined with the emerging trend of home rentals, Londons accommodation industry looks to be coping well with the extra demand.
Claire Whisker, Director of Vive Unique, the specialist home rental company, commented that its a shame for the build up to such an exciting global event to be overshadowed by this, but at least those who have missed out on tickets may still get the chance for that once in a lifetime experience of London?
Were still receiving a steady stream of enquiries for the Olympic period as many guests are choosing to book last-minute for the best value deals? says Claire.
CAN LONDON COPE WITH THE OLYMPICS? - 13-06-12
Crowds of visitors for the Diamond Jubilee kick off a busy summer in the capital
Thousands of visitors flocked to London last weekend to celebrate the Queen’s 60 year reign, with over a million people lining the River Thames to watch the Royal pageant, and major attractions reporting record numbers of visitors over the four day break – despite the weather! See more.
Over 4 million tourists headed to the Capital for an overnight stay during the course of the weekend which was seen by many as a ‘trial run’ for the Olympics. An expected increase of 5.3 million visitors are set to visit Britain during July and August this year, compared to the same period last year, with hotels in London reporting the biggest increase in occupancy rates between 4-8 August.
Whilst there are still question marks over whether London’s transport network will hold up, it seems that the city’s hotel and accommodation industry is coping somewhat better. Despite initial concerns over a lack of accommodation during the Olympics, it appears that there is still a good supply of hotel rooms on offer. More than 8,000 hotel rooms were released by LOCOG, the Olympic organisers, in January, and a further 12,000 are expected to follow. Hotel rates have been falling since the start of the year and there are still some good deals to be had.
For those looking to save money on the cost of accommodation, home rentals are emerging as a cost effective and fun alternative to hotels, and especially suit families or groups of friends. Claire Whisker, Director of Vive Unique, the specialist home rental company, says "We are seeing a lot of families turning to home rentals to keep the costs of their trip down. They are already spending large sums on the Olympics and other tourist attractions and see home rentals as a way of spreading the cost of accommodation over a larger number of heads. It’s fun too...guests enjoy a more authentic and ‘local’ experience and get to stay together under one roof".
Tourists will need to keep ahead of the game to avoid queues and travel problems during this busy time of year. Claire has some good advice for visitors to London and guests staying with Vive Unique are provided with Olympics survival packs, to help them on their way. "If you’re coming to London during the summer I would recommend booking your favourite restaurants well in advance, buying a daily or weekly Oyster card when you arrive, and always carrying an umbrella just in case!", suggests Claire.
WEST LONDON MOST POPULAR FOR OLYMPIC HOME RENTALS - 08-05-12
Homestay specialist Vive Unique reports majority of homes booked are in West London
With home-rentals more in demand than ever before in the lead up to the London Olympics, it may come as a surprise to hear that East London is being trumped by its polar opposite when it comes to bookings, according to London home-rental specialist Vive Unique. See more.
Vive Unique reports that 89.5% of bookings for the Olympic period are for homes outside of East London – the zone with the easiest access to the site of the 2012 Games. West London has proven to be the most popular area, holding 37% of all Olympic bookings, followed by North London with 31.5% of the share. Central London has attracted 15.7% of Vive Unique’s bookings with the East trailing behind at 10.5%.
The West has Hollywood to thank for its appeal, with many of Vive Unique’s international guests opting for places with names they recognise like Notting Hill - in no small part due to the blockbuster film. “We’re finding that the majority of visitors to London during July are holiday-makers teaming up an Olympic experience with a traditional vacation to the capital. For this reason, our guests are choosing to stay in the better known, more tourist-driven locations,” says Claire Whisker, Founder and Co-Director of Vive Unique. “While they’re further away from the Games’ ground-zero, they are closer to London’s major attractions. Many are choosing Camden and Islington in North London as a compromise”.
Not only are certain areas trending, but particular property types also appeal to Olympic travellers to London. Vive Unique has found that two-bed properties with an extra sofa bed are popular with families travelling from overseas, as they offer excellent value. The agency has also found that larger homes with four or five bedrooms are booking quickly, particularly with larger family groups travelling from the US with the kids, the grandparents and the nanny.
“A lot of our guests are aiming to get two for the price of one – experiencing the Olympics and also catching up with loved ones. We’ve calculated that approximately 20% of our clients in 2012 are travelling to London to visit friends and relatives but also want their own space and home-comforts,” adds Claire. Vive Unique has more than 300 unique properties across the capital and is a more affordable and personal alternative to your typical hotel, with prices starting at £85 per night. From attractive pied-a-terres and family homes to luxury penthouses and townhouses, each Vive Unique property offers something special, varying from a superb location or quirky layout/design to iconic views or outdoor space – somewhat of a premium in London. Thoughtful optional extras can be arranged for guests, including a stocked fridge, airport pick-up, picnic hamper, laundry service, babysitter or even a personal trainer.
GET THE ROYAL CONNECTION THIS JUBILEE WITH VIVE UNIQUE - 03-04-12
Stay in hand-picked homes fit for a Queen this Jubilee Bank Holiday
Vive Unique has shortlisted four of its 300 high-end properties with Royal connections still available for visitors coming to the Capital to participate in the Jubilee celebrations. Whether guests want to watch the special Diamond Jubilee flotilla, visit Buckingham Palace or watch the BBC concert from a swish London pad, Vive Unique has the perfect property to make you feel like Royalty. See more.
Queen’s Club Gardens, Royal Borough of Kensington
Fit for a princess, this plush apartment includes access to tennis courts and beautifully manicured gardens. Perfect for a couple looking for a little London nook, the airy property accommodates two people and sits on the top floor of a mansion block. Hop on a bus and you can be wandering through prestigious High Street Kensington in 12 minutes. Property details
London Bridge penthouse close to Borough Market
A former grain store, this building has some beautiful original features and is located in the heart of London Bridge on the Southbank. For guests craving a traditional food market experience with excellent produce, Borough Market is right on the doorstep and The Thames is also just a short walk away, so those keen to sneak a peep of Her Majesty can watch the Diamond Jubilee Flotilla sail by. The penthouse sleeps up to six people and from the roof terrace you will be able to see the Jubilee Beacons and celebratory fireworks. Property details
Panoramic city views from an ultra-modern penthouse, Southwark
Based in the original Hartley’s Jam Factory, this super sleek apartment is based off Tower Bridge Road and sleeps two. With 1,500ft² of space, under-floor heating, designer furniture and professional kitchen, Vive Unique can arrange your very own personal chef who will cater for your culinary desires, ensuring you dine like royalty. With a roof terrace and a living area with 180° of floor to ceiling glass, the views of the celebrations will be second to none from this beautiful property. Property details
Share a Buckingham address, Buckingham Gate
Sleeping up to eight guests, this spacious penthouse has some great summer touches including an ice cream maker and a roof terrace, making it the perfect property to enjoy a quintessentially British weekend. Located a stones’ throw from St. James’ Park, you can visit the Guards’ Museum and the Queen’s Gallery before popping into Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. Property details
Claire Whisker, Vive Unique Co-Founder and Director, says: “We’ve got some excellent homes still available over the Jubilee weekend for those looking to come to London and mark this historic occasion. “Whether you are looking for a family home or something with a wow-factor, each of our properties has something special and our team can advise you on which home might suit your needs best,” she added. Guests of Vive Unique can enjoy additional in-home services such as a personal chef, babysitter and airport transfers all arranged by Vive Unique – leaving more time to enjoy London’s attractions. Prices start from only £85 per property per night.