This company, an apartment renter with class but not snooty exclusivity, is more strongly recommended than many of its rivals. That's because of a good balance between quality and price. It's aggressive about making sure its no-smoking apartments and homes are updated; in an accommodations-crunched city like London, some owners let their places get run-down without feeling much pressure to update. Here, though, fittings must be current or the unit gets cut from the roster, and it employs a designer to make sure everything is up to snuff. Everything is inspected by staff before visitors are allowed to rent, and the company doesn't just deposit you on the welcome mat with a key—someone greets you upon arrival and makes themselves available to keep you updated about what's going on in town. The result is that many of its properties feel like they were custom-made for vacationers (or even for the pages of a lifestyle magazine), with freshly remodeled bathrooms and often, private patios or balconies. In the nights I have spent in its inventory, I felt like a chic art gallery owner or a movie star in my West London pied-à-terre. Fortunately, the quality is not offset by ridiculous prices. The bulk of its choices span studios to 3-bedroom homes, largely in tony neighborhoods like South Kensington and Chelsea, and you will always be guaranteed free digital TV, central heating, and high-speed Wi-Fi. The minimum stay is generally 7 nights, but it may agree to shorter stays if you're near your date of departure.
- Jason Cochran