Live like a Local: Clapham, London

For many travelers, London lacks the unfamiliar and curious allure associated with other European cities. It could be the absence of a language barrier that prevents us from leaving our comfort zone, or the proper, organized nature of the city that pervades despite a colorful and progressive culture.

Whatever the case, I was pleased to be staying in a neighborhood previously unknown to me during a recent trip to London. This region was Clapham, located in the southwestern section of the city, where I stayed in a rented house through One Fine Stay. Situated around a 220-acre grass common where residents of this neighborhood often gather, Clapham boasts tons of restaurants, cafés and bars, as well as nearby specialty food stores.

Over the past few decades, a Londoner explained to me, many people found themselves ‘priced out’ of the city center and as a result, London’s circumference widened. Numerous neighborhoods previously considered outskirts began to gentrify and Clapham quickly became an affluent neighborhood, attracting families and young professionals. The area has been referred to as ‘Nappy Valley,’ the British version of Strollerville, or New York City’s Park Slope.

By staying in a home rather than a hotel, I felt more like a local than had I booked a large property. I shopped at the farmer’s market; I found the easiest route to the Tube and the best coffee shop nearby; I enjoyed the convenience of walking downstairs to my kitchen and helping myself to the fridge (which was pre-stocked with food and drinks I had requested prior to my arrival); and I appreciated returning home after a day of exploring and savoring a glass of wine in my private garden.

Indeed, the residential experience lacked some of the conveniences of a hotel and I did miss having a concierge. But there was something exciting and fulfilling about staying on my own and having local resources at my fingertips. Upon arrival, I was met by a representative of One Fine Stay who showed me everything I needed to know about the home (like how to control the temperature and the alarm system and use the espresso machine). My residence also had a fabulous yard and wonderful spaces for entertaining, and I could have hosted an impromptu garden party.

The residence was also equipped with an iPhone loaded with useful information and assistance. In addition to the One Fine Stay App which includes local recommendations and key information (the house’s alarm code, for instance), and concierge service (which immediately puts guests in touch with a representative of One Fine Stay), the iPhone had apps like Yelp, Dojo and Uber.

Related: London: Neighborhoods to Know Now, London’s Latest: Culinary Art

I flew to and from London on the new boutique, exclusively business class airline, La Compagnie. Operating since 2013 with only two routes (New York and Paris and New York and London), La Compagnie is focused on providing intimate service. Each plane has only 74 seats (each of which lie flat), and passengers are greeted with a champagne cocktail upon arrival. Seats are equipped with an iPad loaded with movies, music and books and welcome kits include everything from socks to Caudalie Eye Cream to a pen for completing the customs form.

These unique experiences—flying with a small, boutique airline and staying in a home rather than a hotel and exploring a new place on my own—gave my stay an element of adventure. On my last night in London, I took an Uber home after meeting new friends in nearby Brixton. The car’s GPS could not locate my street and the driver was lost. After recognizing the missed turn, I confidently directed him the rest of the way home, feeling like a local.

Contact the Bookings Team to learn more and book your private home.

Published onAugust 19, 2016

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