It is now 6 days from our trip still with no place to stay. This seriously has been a total nightmare. We were instructed by Jen’s company to wait to book both air and rental and we assumed someone at the corporate level was actually doing something. Jen kept asking and getting the same reply… “give us a few more days”. Finally, a week ago, we both were at our wits end and Jen asked for the budget limit and told them we would just find our own place. They agreed because apparently no one had done anything about inquiring on a rental.
Searching for housing in London is quite confusing to this American girl. The choices: a Flat (basic one level apartment), a Mews house (multi-story townhouse that looks like a bunch of stables all share two walls with another unit), a serviced apartment (small but functional with maid service and small kitchen) or a penthouse (not what we think of really as a penthouse) which is just basically the top floor even if it’s the top floor of a three-story building. Other items we had to consider are we need Wi-Fi and a kitchen with all of the pots/pans or crockery as the Brits say. We also need a place with a clothes washer and dryer which does not necessarily come standard. And yes, furniture would be an essential. You would not believe the number of agents who are trying to rent a one month deal with no furniture. Oh and yes, we do need utilities. Things like power are handy too when you want to charge your electronics or better yet, watch TV – which, by the way, both are also requirements.
So last weekend off I go on a mad dash to find a 4 week rental (or Let as the Brits say). My mom was scouring the net as well. By Monday we had 5-6 Letting Agents working on our behalf. Thank goodness for Google Maps! Street level view is awesome if you want to see what is around the area and how far a Tube station really is. By Tuesday we had 4 or so viable options and by Wednesday we had found THE one. This place is rock-star worthy. Cool exterior and interior with a huge graphic of a skull hanging over the fireplace. It is a slick mews house just a few blocks north of Hyde Park. It is very central to both the Tube, parks, and little grocery markets in a half commercial half residential section of town. Coincidentally, the one guy working at Jen’s company just STARTED his search on Monday as well. Seriously?? So he comes back to us with a song and dance about “because it’s short notice” I can only find this place. How about because you just started looking it is now short notice. This place was a dump! It is in the financial district where no one even really lives. I seriously told Jen no less than half a dozen times over the next few hours that I’m pulling the plug, we are not going, cancel the whole trip. We looked at the area and even the locals don’t live there. It just so happens that his choice is about two blocks away from Whitechapel where the famous Jack The Ripper serial murders took place in 1888. I like history but- uhhh- no thanks.
Once we confirmed that indeed we do have the option to go with our place, in budget, the choice was simple- we will take the mews house. The Agent pulled the paperwork together, they charged the 5,000 pounds to hold the unit to the corporate card, Jen signed and immediately returned the holding agreement, and for the first night in about 5 weeks we actually slept with some piece of mind. Then yesterday came- Friday. Exactly one week before we leave. The Agent emailed to say the owner of the rental (who happens to live in Los Angeles) received an offer to sell his home for a price he couldn’t refuse. And although the owner was sorry, he would be selling and not renting his place. Uh– excuse me! I think since we signed the papers and they charged us to hold the place that it constitutes a contract. But what are we going to do? Fight a losing battle? Or buck up and figure out where in the world we will lay our heads for the next 30 days? You got it, we chose to go figure out where we will live.
Luckily we are dealing with what I believe to be a reputable leasing agent. He was deeply troubled that this deal fell through so he came back to us with a pre-negotiated alternative. The new unit normally runs about 50% more than our budget would allow. Fortunately the agent took it upon himself to confirm the owner would accept our price before offering us the unit. Good ‘ole chap. He also said Stella McCartney owns a place just a few doors down. That little tid-bit is lost on me though because I have no idea who Stella McCartney is. After looking her up I learned she is indeed Paul McCartney’s daughter and as it turns out she is a fashion designer. Who would have known? For all of my high fashion and design friends please do not hate me because I lack this intuitive knowledge about who is who in the world of design.
This flat is in Notting Hill and everything I read seems to say it is a cool cosmopolitan area and one of the in places to be. I would guess so if Stella is our neighbor. So the location is great, close to markets and cool shops, and close to the Tube. Notting Hill is also home to the famous Portabello Road Market which would make for interesting shopping trips. Sounds perfect, right? Not exactly. There’s just one thing that I guess I will have to get over. The house is a minimalism design. And by minimal I do mean MINIMAL! As in, no dresser or bedside tables, no lamps, no coffee table, minimal artwork. I also do not think it has a coffee pot which will make for interesting mornings.
The bedroom is just that, a bedroom with a bed and a mirror. The living room has a couch, no coffee table, no lamps or side tables. I guess it will not be that bad though because the kids certainly have a ton of room to play without me worrying about them breaking something. There is absolutely nothing to break! I almost wish we were taking a whole football team because this place is so bare we surely could get in a game of flag football at least. I realize this minimalist place is truly a FIRST WORLD problem so I will shut up about it now.
Since it is Saturday and all of London shuts down apparently, or at least leasing agents do no’t work, we will have to wait until Monday to see if this place pans out. If not then mom and I have agreed we will either live on the streets or Jen’s company will have to pay a pretty penny to get us a hotel. Let’s hope it does not come to that.
I will write more once we have something in writing and the deal is truly done. This has been exhausting!
- Stella McCartney kits out Wimbledon’s top women (fashion.telegraph.co.uk)
- The Claims to Fame of the unhotel (onefinestay.com)
- Stella McCartney’s Garden Party (wmagazine.com)
- Top stories this week: Stella McCartney Wimbledon wardrobes, Stuart Vevers at Coach and Kanye West menswear (myfashionlife.com)