Book Posh (Practical) Accommodations in London I'd wager on the family tea set that there isn't a single fan of the popular PBS series "Downton Abbey" who hasn't fantasized about sleeping in four-poster beds, taking tea in the library and splashing about in marble-tiled bathrooms equipped heated towel racks. Thanks to savvy London entrepreneur Greg Marsh, you can do just that. His venture One Fine Stay ( www.onefinestay.com) is billed as an "unhotel". Guests take over hand-selected private homes throughout the London area while on vacation or short stays for business. If you're heading to the 2012 Olympics, this could be just the type of service for you. And they're not just any homes! Travellers search the nifty web site for preferred neighbourhood, number of rooms, amenities and thus fine a posh alternative to a traditional hotel while the owners are away. The benefit? Not only do you get lovely accommodation, but visitors get to live like a local. www.onefinestay.com is ideal for people visiting London for the Olympics and are looking for a break from the standard hotel scene. It's also ideal for families and groups of friends who want to split the cost, eat in, and enjoy a taste of the finer things in life. Some are high-ceiling homes with libraries, while others are a bit more contemporary. Greg Marsh and team have devoted an entire category to Family-friendly homes , one of which sleeps six to nine people for a few hundred pounds per night. Compared that to individual hotel room rates and you'll see it's worth it. These are not modest B&Bs or bedsits. They're elegant, stylish properties. Cool factor: every guest gets the loan of an iPhone to use during their stay which is loaded with local tips and helpful videos recorded by the owner of that particular home (and, yes, you get to make free local calls.) It's the next best thing to having the owner show you around his or her local area.Neighbourhood highlights: You've got access to Regent’s Park’s rose garden, plus the regal The Landmark Hotel for Afternoon Tea, and you're within walking distance to Marylebone train station. If any of these tickle your fancy or if you're seeking stylish lodging in another part of London, visit One Fine Stay. Greg Marsh plans to extend his survey internationally in the very near future.
Greg Marsh says he and his team have "sifted through some of the most decadent, elegant, quirky and surprising houses and apartments, and curated a collection of wonderful places to stay. Every single one is different. But they all offer the same delicious levels of comfort and character."One can almost hear Dame Maggie Smith (Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham) giving her sniff of approval. Here's your peek into three ready-to-rent London homes: Clanricarde Gardens, Notting Hill Calling card: "Funky mouldings and furnishings" [caption id="attachment_9395" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Clanricarde Gardens, Notting Hill Funky mouldings and furnishings"] [/caption] Neighbourhood Higlights: Rent the Hugh Grant-Julia Roberts flick Notting Hill for a quick preview of the area. Shop for collectibles and curios at Portobello Road Market or stroll through Kensington Gardens. If you want to go further afield, just hop the tube and be at Oxford Circus in a jiffy. Albert Hall Mansions, Hyde Park Calling card: Palatial three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment overlooking Hyde Park [caption id="attachment_9396" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption="Albert Hall Mansions, Hyde Park"] [/caption] Neighbourhood highlights: You've got Hyde Park (watch for the Queen's Guards on their morning riding drill) and, of course, you'd be within singing distance of Albert Hall for concerts. The trendy shops of Kensington are close by as is the Natural History and Science museum. Ivor Place, Marylebone Calling card: An urban retreat adventure - and family-friendly, too! [caption id="attachment_9399" align="aligncenter" width="360" caption=" Bedrooms for Everyone"] [/caption] Fully-equipped kitchen