In my last post, I discussed some of the advantages of renting an apartment or house over staying in a hotel while on vacation.
A rental can be advantageous if you: want creature comforts such as a kitchen or in-unit laundry; need more space if traveling with others; or are arranging a trip where you want to stay in a fixed location with opportunities to take day trips to nearby destinations.
Sometimes, you just want to stay in an unfamiliar part of a city to get away from the bustle and experience something new that the average tourist wouldn’t see.
All of the above defined our experience in Bow, in London’s East End.
The Bow district, where the Bow Apartment is located, is in the culturally rich Tower Hamlets borough of East London. Suffering extensive damage from bombings in World War II and having a history of crime and poverty, the borough has been reinventing itself over the years and has become an attractive area to visit or call home. In fact, nearby Stratford was selected to house Olympic Park, where the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were held.
Bow shares the borough with nearby Canary Wharf, the redeveloped financial district of shimmering glass buildings; Whitechapel, home of the infamous “Whitechapel Murders” that took place in the late 19th century; and Mile End, to name a few. The lush and expansive Victoria Park is also located in Tower Hamlets and offers plenty of green space for sports and relaxation.
The Bow Apartment is located less than a block from the Bow Road Underground Station on the District and Hammersmith & City lines. It’s also a 10-minute walk from the Mile End Underground Station offering the fastest transportation to Covent Garden, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Oxford Circus. The Bow Church DLR station, located minutes east of the Bow Apartment offers transportation to Canary Wharf and Greenwich. Interested in enjoying late night London while riding a double-decker bus? The 25 bus stops in front of the Bow Apartment, runs 24 hours a day, and will drop you off in Central London.
The secure apartment is on the first floor of a historic residence with only a few steps to climb, making it perfect for those who have difficulty climbing stairs. The main entrance and unit are secured and are accessed with separate keys.
Inside, the apartment contains two chic and well-appointed bedrooms with ample dresser and wardrobe space, a small but functional bathroom, modern kitchen, and a comfortable sofa to stretch out on after a long day of exploring. Interested in cooking? The apartment has a range, oven, microwave, and dishwasher. Plates, cups, and utensils are also provided.
Nowadays, customers are demanding Wi-Fi in every rental. Wi-Fi is included in the Bow Apartment rental and I found the signal to be strong.
One important selling point not found in many of the apartments we researched was the in-unit washer/dryer located in the kitchen. Use of the washer/dryer is included in the rental and helps to lighten your load, so to speak, creating more room in your suitcase for souvenirs.
Finally, what made our stay particularly enjoyable was the welcome we received from the owner Babs. Our flight arrived early on a Saturday and we were weary from our journey, not to mention exhausted from dragging our baggage halfway across the city from the airport on the Underground.
Babs accommodated our earlier check-in and gave us a detailed tour of the apartment with instructions on how to use all of the gadgets and appliances. He also gave us his cell phone number in case of an emergency.
We only had two complaints. While the neighborhood is plentiful with restaurants and pubs, it lacks a decent market. We had our choice between a neglected Tesco and a mini-mart connected to a gas station. However, we took advantage of the Tesco and Sainsbury’s in and around places we were sightseeing and brought back fruit and snacks. We also visited the Borough Market near the Southwark Cathedral where we bought paella with chorizo and homemade meat pies to take back to the apartment. (They also traveled well on the Underground.)
The other complaint (which is more of a suggestion) is that the owner requires the tenants to wash and dry all of the towels and linens, clean the kitchen and bathroom, and sweep the floors prior to departure. Given the stress involved in repacking for an early flight the following day while wanting to enjoy the last night at the Bow Apartment, I’d suggest hiring a cleaning crew and either include it in the rental or give the tenant the option to choose if he or she wants to add the service or clean the apartment.
All things considered, our stay at Bow Apartment in the quirky and out-of-the way borough of Tower Hamlets provided us with an opportunity to live like a local, knock around a side of London not usually experienced by tourists, and bounce west within the city by tube and bus and even farther west by train to Wales.
Booking details can be found here.
Interested in snaps from London? Visit the photo gallery.