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Frequently Asked Questions

London and the art of choosing a vacation rental:

Renting an apartment in London is not as easy as it looks. When searching the Internet to find the perfect vacation rental, you will be amazed by the sheer number of offers on the market and the diversity of agencies. Each of them has different philosophies when it comes to terms and conditions, payment options and cancellation terms. Their standards for selecting apartments and presenting them to potential guests also vary greatly...

Other agencies have a selection of apartments which are occupied by their owner most of the year, renting their property while they are on holidays.

We do not believe that your stay in a London apartment should be about dropping your luggage in someone else's personal belongings. Your London Hideaways' apartment is a real home away from home.

Visitors' expectations of what it is like to live "London style " in a British apartment may occasionally be unrealistic. When people think of London, they imagine style and fashionable elegance in all things related to design and amenities. Some of it is true, yet when it comes to apartments offered for rental there is sometimes a bit of a disappointment.

London Hideaways has inspected many apartments in London before presenting the selection that you see on our web site. A lot of the ones we visited and which did not make it onto our web site were boring, charmless and not up to acceptable standards of cleanliness. Even if they are located in fine neighborhoods or are offered at very attractive rates, we decline to offer such properties for rental. We are quite proud of our vacation rentals, the locations are safe, the apartments each offer a special charm and we feel confident that we can work in harmony with their owners.

England is one of the most beautiful countries on earth and London is, with reason, a real ambassador of this beauty. We have a selection of charming, comfortable vacation rentals in sought-after areas of this great capital. We will be happy to discuss with you any requirements and areas of choices. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need additional information.

London Hideaways is an entity of Charming Hideaways Ltd. Our company is registered and based in London. We have several years of experience in the vacation rental and tourism business being vacation rental owner ourselves and also residents of this beautiful city. We know our business and we do it well. Every owners we work with is reliable, dedicated and serious about making your stay as enjoyable as possible in their charming apartment. Our company is fully insured and legally registered. Are you looking for a short-term rental in Paris as well? Visit our sister company Paris-Hideaways. Established in 2003, we offer more than 150 furnished Paris apartments ranging from quaint studios to luxury 3 bedrooms.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to London!

OUR ANSWERS

What is included in our price:
Electricity, heat and water, taxes, linens, towels and check in cleaning service is included in short term stays.
For stays longer than 2 weeks, heat and electricity may be at the tenants' expenses and will be specified in the owner's contract.

Are the prices the same throughout the year :
Some apartments have the same rate throughout the year and some others will be seasonal. Some owners may adjust their prices during the year to update their listing but this does not affect the rentals already confirmed and booked.

What is your minimum length of stay?
Our minimum payment is for 4/5 nights in one bedrooms and generally a full week in studio. For some apartments, it may be seven nights. For extra nights beyond the first week, we simply charge the pro rata nightly rental rate.

Are your London rentals from Saturday to Saturday?
No, you may arrive any day of the week as long as we have availability.

What type of payment do you accept?
We can accept credit cards via our PayPal Merchant's account . You do not need to have a membership account with them. There are many other ways for you to send your reservation deposit. We accept Wire (electronic) transfer, payment by CERTIFIED cheques in your currency, bank draft (official bank cheques) or money order.

What are you cancellation terms?
Your reservation deposit is very minimal as you will see in our rent proposal, they correspond to the agency fee.
Therefore, this deposit is not refundable.

It is possible to take cancellation insurance via the company ADAR. Cancellation insurance allows you to be reimbursed for the portion of your stay that is not used in the event of cancellation or interruption. You are also benefiting from rental risk insurance which is MANDATORY in England for damages caused by fire, explosion or water.

More information regarding this insurance as well as their contact and reservation form is available via this link:
ADAR CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY INSURANCE

What are your terms and conditions for rentals?
You can see our Terms and Conditions before sending your payment by clicking here.
When renting any of our properties, you agree to respect the terms of our agreement.

Must we be insured while occupying a vacation rental?
Renters of a vacation rental are not submitted to the obligation of a home insurance during their stay. However, they are liable like anyone else. It is important not to neglect to guarantee this liability towards the owner of the property. The owner may request a copy of your liability insurance upon arrival. If you own a home insurance for your own house, there is most likely a liability clause attached to it. You can verify with your insurance company that this liability insurance will cover you while occupying a rental property abroad. It is often the case.

The owner of your rental has subscribed to an insurance which covers your liability during your stay. It does not cover your personal belongings.

It is possible to take a liability insurance via the company ADAR. This rental risk insurance is MANDATORY in England but difficult to find. It covers you for damages caused by fire, explosion or water. Via this insurance you also benefit from a cancellation insurance allowing you to be reimbursed for the portion of your stay that is not used in the event of cancellation or interruption.

More information regarding this insurance as well as their contact and reservation form is available via this link:
ADAR CANCELLATION AND LIABILITY INSURANCE

Travel insurances differ. It can cover, for example, reimbursement of flights expenses, booking fee of your apartment, and other travel related expenses. The claim basis can be medical or other family related difficulties that prevent you from traveling after you have made plans. Charming Hideaways Ltd does not sell travel insurance. However, we strongly recommend that our clients purchase travel insurance for their planned trip to London.

Are the apartments air-conditioned?
Appliances like these will be mentioned in the property description. If they are not mentioned the property does not have them. We are pleased to announce that several apartments now provide this feature.

What makes your apartments so great?
We have selected our apartments for their central location, the charm of the decoration, the safe neighborhood and easy transportation. Our apartments are unique. We have a very close relation with the owners. Often, European standards differ from the usual North American ones; most of the apartments have been remodeled to very good standards. We think coming to London may be the trip of a lifetime for our guests so your stay should be fabulous in every way. We have apartments for all budgets and occasions.

When you can check in:
The apartment is usually available from day 1 at 2h00pm and must be vacant last day of contract by 10h30am. Although the owner is not obligated to offer accommodation before the time stated, he will be happy to offer it whenever possible and upon previous arrangements. If there is a check out the day you arrive, the owner may suggest coming to in drop your luggage and go out for your first stroll around your London neighborhood until the cleaning is done.

However, please remember that you are not entitled to remain in occupation after the aforementioned time. These restrictions are predominantly designed to allow time for cleaning the apartment prior to the next check in.

If you need to guarantee an early morning check in we advise you to reserve the previous night to assure that there is no check out the morning that you arrive. Please be aware that some apartment owners cannot support an early arrival.

You are a smoker:
We are sorry but all apartments are smoke free and animals are not allowed in the premises without the owner's permission. We request our guests refrain from smoking in the flats as well as in the staircases and lobbies for security reasons. Smoking in public places is also forbidden by law in England.

How do we find our way to the property and how do we get in?
Upon payment of your reservation deposit, your are provided with a rent receipt which includes the property address, telephone number of the apartment and the key holder/owner’s name and contact information. The web page of the apartment does provide a map of the area. We understand that this may not be sufficient to get to your destination. However, all owners are ready and prepared to give you directions to make your way safely and effortlessly to your vacation rental. In most instances, you will be met at the property by the owner or key holder who will show you around the apartment.

How will the property be furnished and equipped?
Your house or apartment will be completely furnished and equipped with blankets, pillows, dishes, glassware, utensils, pots, pans, small appliances, etc. Sheets and towels are provided. Please note that UK towels in particular may not be as large or as thick as you're used to, and may seem flimsy to you. The British also don't use as many towels as North Americans use. It is quite normal to have just a couple of what we would consider smaller towel and very often no washcloth. You may want to bring along a bathtub towel and wash cloth from home. Because this is an apartment rental, daily linen or cleaning service is not available unless specified in the apartment's web page.

It is also customary in a lot of English private homes to use the duvet cover without a flat sheet. English people tend to find that a duvet cover serves the same purpose as a flat sheet and therefore will put a fresh duvet cover when they prepare the bed for a new arrival.

What types of household and food items will be supplied?
Although the renters before you may have left a few things, you are expected to supply your own provisions. You should stock up on all food, including condiments and spices, and household items such as soap, toilet paper, detergent, etc.

What about major appliances like washing machines?
Most of our properties have washing machines and/or dishwashers. European appliances function quite differently from those in North America and operation may not be that obvious. Ask the owner/key holder to give you a demonstration before you attempt to use it.

Is there a telephone at the apartment and are calls included?
Most apartments come equipped with either a land line or a mobile phone. There are no “free” local phone calls in England. Each apartment can have a different system in place for telephone charges. Many apartments have free unrestricted local calls and require a calling card for long distance calls.

These are the various phone connections available in the apartments:

1. A restricted phone line for which you will need a calling card to call out.
2. A metered phone, usually unrestricted for which you pay units at the end of your stay.
3. An open "local line" for which you will need a calling card for calls outside London and for calls to UK mobile phones.
4. Increasingly some apartments have inexpensive or free Internet based phone systems like SKYPE.
5. Some apartments have recently been equipped with unlimited access to phone including calls abroad. The listings are currently being reviewed with the owner so we can accurately let you know what services are available.

You can often use your own telephone calling card (ATT, MCI, etc.) to make long distance calls abroad on a land line. Make sure you find out the access number in England for your calling plan. Alternately, you can buy a calling card providing a certain amount of calling time depending on the distance and length of the call (more time for local calls or calls within England, less time for long distance calls). On the card there is an access number and your own personal calling code. You dial the access number, your calling code and then the desired telephone number. Before each call, you hear the remaining GBP balance and amount of calling time.

A mobile phone may be at disposal during your stay. The rechargeable phone cards are at the client's expense. You can buy recharge for the phone at any retail outlets (magazine stands, train stations, etc.). Be sure to ask the owner which type you need to buy (ORANGE, T-MOBILE, VODAPHONE, VIRGIN etc). On the card is the recharge's code. You dial the access number (usually 3 digits indicated on the recharge card), follow directions and enter the recharge's PIN code. You confirm and then hang up. Within a couple of minutes, the mobile phone will be recharged with calling units and you will be able to make your phone calls. Before each call, you hear the remaining Euro balance and amount of calling time. If you think this may be very difficult for you, ask the owner to buy and recharge the phone for you in advance and reimburse him the recharge fee upon check in.

REMEMBER the EMERGENCY phone number: 999

Can I use my computer or access email from the property?
If the apartment's description page specifies that there is Internet connection, you will be able to access your emails and surf the Internet. More and more owners are opting to install a High-Speed Internet connection in their apartment. However, the London provider of high-speed access is notoriously unreliable, and we hear of many disappointments. If regular Internet access is important, you should be prepared with a dial up number for your service provider, and a phone-jack adaptor, even if your apartment has a high-speed connection. UK plugs and telephone jacks are different from those abroad. So you will need an adapter for both the jack and the electric outlet. You also need to make sure that your computer is set up to run on UK current, which is 220 volts (North America is 110 volts). Apartments which provide access to Internet DO NOT provide a computer unless otherwise stated in the rent description.

Broadband High Speed Internet Access (ADSL) WIFI or CABLE:
Many apartments (but not all) now have ADSL broadband Internet access and many of these have WIFI service in the apartment. You may need to bring an Ethernet cable or a USB 2.0 cable in case your computer does not support the WIFI connection.

Your Notebook computer should also have a CD drive in case there is specialized software to install. Usually the Cable Modem connection will appear as an “always on” TCP/IP connection.

If you are just checking e-mails while you are in London then an Internet Cafe will work fine. Many in the very central areas around Covent Garden charge about 1 Sterling pounds/hour. Do not expect to bring your own Note-Book computer to an Internet Cafe to hook it up to their network but there are many public and free WIFI available in cafes and restaurants.

Remember:
You will not need a power and a plug adapter as your notebook should automatically sense the line and adjust automatically.




How do we find out about weekly markets, good restaurants, shops and services and the most interesting tourist attractions?
Most of our properties have "house books," loose leaf notebooks with a variety of practical and tourist information. You'll usually find nearest supermarket, emergency telephone numbers for doctors and pharmacies, recommended bakeries, restaurants, and information about many tourist sights and points of interest. Once you arrive, you can also visit the local London Tourist Information center for tourist maps and brochures.

There are good restaurants and easy access to the metro near all our properties. As we have no properties located in residential suburbs you can easily walk to any of them. The nice thing about London is that you can find good restaurants everywhere. Please do not hesitate to recommend your favorite London restaurants after you leave your apartment as it may prove beneficial to the next visitors.

What do we do if there are problems at the property?
Thank you for asking! If there are problems with the apartment upon your arrival or during your stay, be sure to speak up while you are there. Call the owner/key holder or local representative and tell them what's wrong. Usually, problems can be remedied easily and will make your stay that much more enjoyable. Owners are there and willing to work with you to give you satisfaction.

We regret that complaints cannot be reviewed after your return if the key holder/local representative has not been notified and allowed to resolve the problem while you are in residence.
If the problem is not resolved by the owner/key holder or local representative, you can contact Charming Hideaways in the UK. We will respond as quickly as possible and try our best to assist you.

Does the property have to be spotless when we leave?
The property is cleaned before you arrive and again when you leave. At departure, you are responsible for leaving it in an orderly fashion. Dishes should be washed and put away and all trash and bottles removed and deposited in the designated receptacles. If more than average cleaning is required to prepare for the next renter, charges for extra cleaning will be deducted from your security deposit.
In the case of serious and voluntary damage of your own doing, the owner may keep part of the security deposit to repair or change the broken items.
If your stay has been well prepared, if you have called your host in advance and asked preliminary questions, there are more advantages than risks. The important thing is not to damage the variety of personal things which are in the flat that make it cosy and nice compared with a hotel room.

There is no separate cleaning deposit. All apartments include final cleaning but it is expected that you reside as you would when a guest in someone’s home (which you are). It is appreciated when the apartment is left tidy, the trash is emptied, and the dishes are clean (or at least left in the dishwasher when there is one). On rare exceptions a demand for additional cleaning costs can be deducted from the security deposit if the apartment is left in a real mess and disarray.


Do your flats have lifts or handicapped access?
Unfortunately most of them don't! London center is an historical district in which by law nothing can be changed. Our flats are located in buildings built in the 18th century, some of them even earlier... We may have properties located on the ground floor which may be accessible by wheelchair but the apartment has not necessarily been adapted for handicapped access (ie bathroom for example).

Can we get a discount for our stay?
We are not a big rental company. Our prices are already very competitive. However, we are willing to give discounts for very last minute bookings off peak season but these offers must always be discussed with the owner in advance. There are no discounts possible during the Christmas/New Year's season unless booking is less than 10 days in advance.

Why do we need to give a security deposit to the owner?
Would you give the key to your own property without a minimum guarantee to get it back in good condition? The owners consider that trusting their guests for their honesty is the best way to have them respect them and their properties. The security deposit is a reserve against actual damages, lost keys, unpaid local charges such as phone usage and occasionally utilities, and any (exceptionally) excess cleaning charges.

Most owners will accept a personal check in your own currency. This cheque will not be cashed unless damage has been done to the property you have rented. The expense incurred for the owner to cash a currency cheque will be at the tenant's expense.


It is very important that you keep the keys of the apartment in a safe place. Keys are exceptionally expensive and time consuming to replace in London. Replacement cost can exceed hundreds of dollars and will be charge to you. Occasionally, lost keys will require replacement of the entire door lock. It is also important NEVER to leave the keys in the door lock on the interior side as this will completely prevent entry even if you have keys from the exterior side. PLEASE NOTE that most doors in England have a latch that automatically locks the door when you shut it. If you have forgotten the key inside, the owner's presence or a locksmith will be required. So before you step out, please make sure that you have the key with you. Even if the latch is on, your are expected to lock the door with your key. Always.


How do we get to London from the airport?
More info to come

Are your apartments in safe districts?
In terms of safety, London is very unlike many other major cities in the world. Due to strong gun and personal weapons control laws, crime in the city is virtually non-violent. Our apartments are located in districts which are part of the most residential and prestigious districts, being safe at any time of the day. Of course, like everywhere, you should always be careful and sensible, especially in the underground/tube. The neighborhoods we have selected are one of the best reasons you should stay with us! If you are investing in a vacation in London, we want you to enjoy walking to the major sites, museums, and shopping of this gorgeous city. Our apartment rentals are in the heart of London historical districts. They are close to the West End, to historical monuments, and are surrounded by lovely restaurants, sidewalk cafés, and trendy shops. You will love being able to stroll at the open market of your neighborhood. Moreover, you will get to know our local butcher, greengrocer, baker, and pharmacist's all part of the experience of living in London. We don't believe you should arrive in London after an all-night plane trip, only to get a shock when you step out of your taxi and worry about walking around on your own. A lot of our apartments are in safe buildings, with digicode and locked inner doors.

Is tipping common practice in London?
You normally do not tip for services or in restaurants. By law service and taxes are included in all bills. If your waiter is very nice and helpful you are welcome to give a little extra but it is not compulsory. The same applies to taxis.

Where can we withdraw cash?
England is the number one country in the world for the number of cash points per capita! ATM's are everywhere and it's the most flexible and reliable way to obtain cash in Sterling pounds. There is no need to change money before you leave home. Almost every shop accepts payment by Visa or Amex. You can make a withdrawal from your ATM account and receive a better exchange rate than you normally would if you were to go to a currency exchange facility.
In terms of ATM withdrawal, the logos on the back of your ATM card : Plus system ( Visa ), and Cirrus ( Mastercard ), are both usually accepted in London. These are the cards to have, others are not widely accepted. Most banks charge a transaction fee, in addition to the conversion fee, so usually up to about 3%. This remains nevertheless, the most economical way to get money. Most important is to be sure funds are in chequing (not savings) account, and that your PIN is only 4 digits (remembered as a number and not as a word), and to be aware of any limits as to how much can be withdrawn daily. Also, it is important that you notify your bank a few days before your trip so they don't freeze your funds due to suspicious activity oversees.

How far away is the closest underground/tube station from our apartment?
The apartments are all within a few minutes walk of the underground/tube lines.

What are the advantages of staying in a Charming Hideaways' apartment rather than a hotel?
The cost of course! As well, an apartment provides you with more space and privacy than hotel rooms. Each of our flat is fully equipped to cook at home thus providing you with an alternative to high priced room service meals or expensive restaurants. Compare the price of a 3 star hotel to one of apartment and you will see the advantage immediately including the benefit of the added kitchen!

Need More Information? If your questions haven't been answered above, please email us and I will get back to you shortly.


Guests stay overnight:
All apartments are quoted for a specific number of guests who need to be named on the Charming Hideaways Ltd Form. Many apartments charge extra depending upon the exact number of resident guests. And many apartments only provide bedding for the exact guest count.

What about bringing my own DVDs?
Most apartments, if they have a DVD player, will not have a Multi-Zone function. Unless you bought your DVDs in Europe do not expect to play them on a European DVD player.

How do English bed sizes compare to American bed sizes?
USA Standard Bed Sizes:
Single ------------------ 39 x 75 inches.
Double ----------------- 54 x 75 inches.
Queen ------------------ 60 x 80 inches.
King -------------------- 76 x 80 inches.

English Standard Bed Sizes:
Single ----- (090 x 190 cm) 35 x 75 inches.
Double ---- (140 x 190 cm) 55 x 75 inches.
King -------- (150 x 200 cm) 60 x 79 inches.

If you are very tall make sure you do not choose a bed that has a footboard.

What about noise:
When we judge an apartment and its location for noise, the main issue is traffic noise and loud all-night bar & nightclub noise. We do not consider normal human activity such as people talking, church bells ringing (a problem for some people but a delight to others), or school children playing as noise issues. English law requires that “residential” noise be muted after 10PM. You should expect to comply with the English “residential” noise regulations that ask each inhabitant not to impose on neighbors any loud noise, or music etc. after 10:00 PM each night, and before 8:00 AM every morning.

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