Executive travel: Airbnb gives a true penthouse experience in Soho

For longer business stays, many executives are now booking via Airbnb, so how did a two-week, Dh857-a-night, stay in a penthouse in London's Soho pan out for this traveller?

The penthouse I stayed in was perched at the top of the highest building in Soho. Peter Cooper for The National
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For longer city business stays, some travellers prefer apartments to hotels. And the most convenient way to search for and book executive pads these days is via airbnb.com in my opinion, having long experience of the alternatives.

Central London is usually one of the most expensive places to find business accommodation, another reason to turn to Airbnb.

My Soho penthouse was an astonishing Dh857 per night, and a fortnight cost about the same as one night in a similar-sized pad in the Corinthia hotel that I reviewed for The National last summer.

The location at the top of the tallest building in Soho was astonishing. I was two minutes from Carnaby Street and Oxford Street, and about the same from the nearest Tube. You could walk almost anywhere in Central London in 20 to 25 minutes.

Finding accommodation on airbnb.com was a breeze. Each apartment has accurate photos and a detailed inventory of the facilities on tap. You pay the website, but the landlord does not get paid until you are happy with your apartment and you can get a full refund within the first 24 hours if not satisfied.

You can look for inclusions on the menu list of things you need, such as a washing and drying machine as well as an ironing board. My main concern is always powerful Wi-Fi, and the one in this flat coped with the seven internet devices I had with me without any problem.

I also like designer style, and this apartment was actually owned by an English designer who lives mainly in Paris, and furnished with his selected favourites. It was around 65 square metres, so not very big, but completely re-kitted with a corner kitchen and bijou shower room.

There was a king-size bed that just fitted into the bedroom, which also had the only TV. I really liked the designer steel and glass desk with a panoramic view over the City of London and its skyscrapers, also to be enjoyed from a breakfast bar. But take an adapter plug.

Next door there was a full-sized gym that costs Dh45 a session and an Olympic-sized swimming pool – actually part of the same building. You won’t get that in any London hotel.


Any niggles?

It was rather noisy at night with the windows open. Soho is a 24/7 entertainment district. Still, if you like clubs and restaurants it is superb. I also thought the bathroom a bit smelly, as the extractor fan needed cleaning.

Was it good for business use?

Yes, perfect. I would like a view from my desk like that on a permanent basis. For any business executive to have the City of London laid out like a carpet in front of him is an inspiration. If you wanted to show off then you could bring up business associates to see it.

Is it better to eat out or in?

There are an amazing number of options nearby. Just eight minutes to Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social for a Michelin-starred birthday reunion. He has opened recently in Dubai. And two minutes around the corner to Marks & Spencer for many other British treats.

Any hotel services you missed?

I suppose if you were new to London then the lack of a concierge to hold your hand might be a problem. But how difficult is booking a business dinner or theatre tickets on your own? If you want room service then you have endless delivery options in Soho, including Chinese from London’s China Town. Your landlord is usually available on email if you have any questions about the apartment or neighbourhood.

How did you find the apartment?

London taxi drivers have The Knowledge (extensive training of all London’s roads). I left my hire car at Victoria Station and took a cab from there.


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