Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Overnight Shift; Developers Are Offering Short-Let Serviced Apartments as an Alternative to Hotels, Says David Spittles

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Overnight Shift; Developers Are Offering Short-Let Serviced Apartments as an Alternative to Hotels, Says David Spittles

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SPITTLES

THE strength of the capital's lettings market is prompting some developers to change tack. Rather than selling swish new apartments, they are choosing to rent them out instead. One developer has even launched a timeshare scheme at an attractive warehouse in Rotherhithe.

Serviced apartments were once a niche market but demand is now strong because of the high cost of hotels and the preference for convenient, pied-a-terre accommodation.

At several central-London apartment schemes, developers have already grafted on hotel-type services. Building serviced apartments is a logical next step.

Fairbriar has become the first to do it in a big way. The company has just launched four developments and has plans to operate 1,000 apartments within three years under its Fairbriar Residence brand.

Busy London executives, relocated staff, business travellers and stressed commuters are obvious targets. "We believe there is a huge untapped market," says Philip Van Reyk, chief executive. "It's preferable to an impersonal hotel room and less expensive for medium-to long-term stays."

Planning regulations require short-let accommodation of fewer than 90 days to be licensed. Some councils take a more robust line than others.

At 75 Stanhope Gardens in Kensington, one of the Fairbriar schemes, the minimum letting period is three months. At The Boardwalk, Canary Wharf, it is possible to rent a room for a night. The former is a conversion of 11 listed Victorian terraced houses. Studios and apartments (up to three bedrooms) are available.

They have luxury, contemporary-design interiors and are fully wired. A concierge service handles requests such as car hire, dry cleaning, theatre tickets and so on. The weekly tariff ranges from [pound]700 to [pound]1,750. Two-bedroom overnight accommodation at the Canary Wharf development costs [pound]185. Weekly rates range from [pound]1,050 to [pound]1,500.

Research by FPDSavills shows that demand for flexible serviced flats is outstripping supply, especially in Bayswater, Kensington and Chelsea, which account for about half the current properties available. …

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