silvia
Silvia Pisci
Onefinestay
300 St John St, London EC1V, United Kingdom
15th October 2015

Is Onefinestay really making a shift in the way we intend private apartment rentals? Yes it is. Is it really succeeding in providing the service you expect from a luxury hotel to the coziness of a private home? Here’s my experience with them at one of their London apartments…

Location
My house was located in the heart of Notting Hill, and that I must say was part of the charm of my stay. I felt at home immediately in this vibrant and stylish area, and the local tips provided by Onefinestay’s hosts made it extremely easy to walk around and stop by the right places. Location is one of Onefinestay’s main criteria; they ensure that you’ll never find yourself in an unsafe or remote neighborhood and will provide detailed information about the area where each apartment is located, so you know exactly what to expect.
Who stays?
Modern-day savvy travellers looking for the comfort of a private home but intransigent when it comes to service, typically on long-stay business trips or vacations. Families will find Onefinestay a perfect (and often cheaper) alternative to suites and connecting rooms at luxury hotels.
Style and Character
Onefinestay is all about this! When you browse the different houses on their website it feels like you’re leafing through the pages of Interiors – whether you love contemporary design, vintage furniture, family-friendly environment… you will find the right place for you, and make sure that it has a “wow factor”. It’s clear that this is made possible by a team with a very distinctive and appealing style itself, and you realize this much before your stay, the moment you enter the website. The cherry on top is the Onefinestay journal (you’ll receive it complimentary in your house) – extremely engaging and well designed.. I spent the evening reading it sipping hot tea from my stylish comfy sofa.
Service
Here is where Onefinestay has really made a shift in the industry, founding the meaning of an “unhotel” in the luxury travel dictionary. A team of experts is at your disposal 24/7 to help throughout your experience and this is noticeable from the very beginning. It’s possible to get all the information you need online by using the (many) filters, but you’re also able to simply pick up the phone and get real-time advice from people who truly understand your requests and are very knowledgeable about their portfolio.

Once the booking is confirmed, the follow-up emails and SMS will help ensure you have all the info you need to reach the house, where you’ll be met by one of the Onefinestay guys. He/she will show you the house and check you in like you would do at any hotel (they usually ask GBP1,000 deposit), but in a more relaxed and friendly way.

Daniel (my “onefinestangel”) was my direct contact throughout the stay, and I could reach him by phone at any time. What I enjoyed the most is the iPhone you’re provided with. You get unlimited free national calls, but more than that, a whole set of tips (divided by places to eat, bars & pubs, fun for kids, local landmarks, shops, delis & markets) reviewed by the community of hosts in the city, with interactive maps in both your local area and the city as a whole. Snooping around Notting Hill’s restaurants and shops while reading the hosts’ comments was like being with a local, and can’t even be compared with Lonely Planet or any other expert guide book.
Rooms and Suites
The local team prepares each house with extreme care and will provide all bedrooms with top-quality beddings, towels and toiletries by The White Company. All this will make you feel like you’re staying at a luxury hotel rather than at someone else’s house. Although the website pictures quite accurately represented the real-life apartment, the main bedroom was a bit smaller than I thought. The kitchen, on the other hand, was bigger than expected and very well equipped, including a washing machine and Nespresso machine.

What I missed? Slippers and a bathrobe – the things you don’t appreciate enough until you don’t have them!
Food and Drink
The welcome kit at the apartment includes some snacks, tea bags, coffee and long-life milk. I admit I would have enjoyed my stay even more if I could have (for an extra price, of course) had the fridge stocked with yogurt, berries and all I would need for a delicious breakfast at home.
Features, Wellness, and Amenities
A very interesting feature: you will find small stickers with barcodes here and there around the house. Once you point your iPhone and scan the code, a link will open to a short video, either with instructions on how to use that particular object or with information about its history, value or more… It was a bit like having the owners show me around the house itself and "unveiling its soul” to me. I loved it!
Perceived Value
Onefinestay is quite simply pioneering the trend of high-end private apartments offering a unique personalized service which is making them a very solid alternative to luxury hotels, especially for long stays. There is room for improvement in the little details but I’m absolutely confident that Onefinestay will grow and open-up to more and more exciting collaborations, especially with local brands and creative personalities. The real challenge will be to let their portfolio grow internationally while keeping the local teams able to convey that personalized and knowledgeable service.