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Serviced Apartments

Serviced Apartments - Alternative To Hotels?

With the steady growth of business travel and tourism in the region, and consequently high-to-full occupancy rates, serviced apartments are becoming more widespread across Nairobi. This is especially true for Lavington, Kileleshwa, Kilimani, Upper Hill and Westlands areas which are a favorite with locals and expatriates alike.

Despite the growing popularity, at the detriment to the hotel industry, serviced apartments are still a novel idea for some consumers who don’t even understand what they are and how they differ from the traditional hotel stay.

So here is a basic definition – a serviced apartment is a type of furnished apartment available for short-term or long-term stays, which provides amenities for daily use. This might sound very similar to a hotel but the differences are actually vast, the main of which are space, privacy, price, length of stay and amenities. According to the HVS research in the more developed markets of the USA and Europe, serviced apartments are a hybrid of two different asset classes: the residential apartment sector and the hotel market. Their aim is to fill the void between a short hotel stay and longer-term rental accommodation.

Most of the serviced apartments are fully fitted, furnished and serviced with state of the art fittings and furniture. The majority of all serviced accommodation also comes with the latest entertainment systems and mod cons, including satellite television, Wi-Fi internet, DVD players, docking stations, etc. Like a hotel, serviced apartments offer guest services within the price, including cleaning and turndown services.

We sometimes take for granted our home environment; being able to relax and make the most of our own space and privacy. Business executives who are continuously living out of a suitcase travelling and staying in hotels every night would appreciate this luxury.Serviced apartments offer more than just a room. Serviced apartments have separate areas for cooking, dining, living and sleeping offering a better home from home experience. Having more space means guests can enjoy enhanced privacy, especially if they are travelling with family because you have the space to socialize together and space to retreat to individual activities.

Another highlight of the serviced apartments is that you can eat whenever you want, whether it is a light bite or a full meal.Having the ability to cook or prepare your own meals may sound small but is a major cost benefit, avoiding eating in the hotel or surrounding restaurants daily, and provides you with flexibility. This means you can even cook your favorite meal in the kitchen, etc. This flexibility makes it much easier to have family visits and even conduct business meetings. In addition, many serviced apartments have sofa beds affording the chance for a guest to stay the night. 

One of the major differences between hotels and serviced apartments is price. There is a massive preconception that serviced apartments are expensive in comparison to hotels and that they are only for the elite of society. On average serviced apartments are more than 30% cheaper than a hotel stay and that’s with the added benefit of all the comforts that are associated with a home-away-from-home plus guests services.

The more staggering difference in prices comes when considering your length of stay. If you are staying within a temporary location for a few nights or even months it is clear to see how the price of a hotel stay may add up. For instance serviced apartments have a kitchen or kitchenette so you save money on room service and restaurant costs. Moreover, serviced apartments typically have flexible price ranges depending on length of stay thus are negotiable to fit budgets. Likewise group bookings, for a number of personnel staying within apartments within the same general location can be acquired and at a significantly lower cost. Therefore the longer you stay in a serviced apartment, the cheaper it gets. This makes serviced apartments an ideal solution for temporary accommodation, corporate relocations and business trips. Also the vast majority of serviced apartments offer free Wi-Fi unlike many hotels who continue to charge for it.

For the booking process, having an agent to assist will save you time and money. Rather than doing the research and handling the booking process yourself, an agent can also advise you on where best to stay depending on your specific needs whether you are travelling for business or leisure.

A final resort for someone seeking accommodation would be to visit websites like Flipkey or Airbnbwhich run on a marketplace platform model where they connect hosts and travelers and enable transactions without owning any rooms themselves. Unlike serviced apartments, Airbnb and Flipkey scale not by scaling inventory but by increasing the hosts and travelers and matching them with each other.

With reference to pricing, Airbnb and Flipkey can offer cheaper accommodation to some extent. This is because they offer a platform where individuals can rent out their own homes regardless of the standards or level of comfort. Unfortunately this could lead to a potential guest getting shortchanged because the ads, photographs, and descriptions posted on short-term rental websites can be misleading or downright dishonest. Also a place that looks fantastic online may turn out to be filthy, with an uncomfortable bed in a bad neighborhood with noisy neighbors.

Serviced apartments on the other hand are generally managed professionally by companies which check them out before they allow them to be listed on their websites. Some of the local companies who manage serviced apartments are the Tamarind Group, Unlimited direction, Trianum hospitality, Makaazi Management Company and SOHO Serviced apartments to mention but a few.