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What Is a Serviced Apartment?


May 21, 2020 by Maurie Backman

Business travelers have a tendency to stay in the same hotel room for extended periods of time. And after a while, that can get old. But there's another type of accommodation that may be better suited to folks who embark on extended business trips: serviced apartments.

What is a serviced apartment?

A serviced apartment is a furnished apartment that's available for both a short-term and long-term stay. With a serviced apartment, guests are generally privy to a host of amenities, including a fully-stocked kitchen, maid service, and sometimes, even room service. It's common for business travelers to take up residence in a serviced apartment, as it's often a nice alternative to living in a hotel room for months on end.

What are the benefits of a serviced apartment?

From a business traveler perspective, a serviced apartment will generally offer you more room to spread out than you'll get with a single hotel room. Imagine you're looking to stay in the same place for 10 weeks at a time. Would you rather be limited to a single room, or would you prefer to rent an entire apartment with, say, 1,000 square feet of living space?

Furthermore, with a serviced apartment, you're apt to feel more at home. You'll have a kitchen to cook and store food in should you so choose, and you may even have a washing machine at your disposal. At the same time, you may not have to give up most of the amenities you'd find at a hotel. Depending on the property at hand, a serviced apartment could come with an onsite swimming pool, a gym or fitness center, or a roof deck offering outdoor space to relax. And often, you'll enjoy amenities like a housekeeping service so you don't have to clean. Some serviced apartments even offer a meal service.

A serviced apartment is also a good bet if you expect to have guests stay with you during your travels. Say you're looking at a longer length of stay in a new city, and you want your family to visit a few times while you're away. With a serviced apartment, you'll have more room to accommodate them. That apartment may come with an extra bedroom for your kids, or a sofa bed for them to sleep on. With a hotel room, you could wind up quite cramped.

Finally, serviced apartments tend to be more cost-effective than hotel rooms for an extended stay. A serviced apartment can cost 30% to 50% less than a hotel for a longer stay, though the specifics will hinge on the location at hand and the specific length of booking.

What are the drawbacks of a serviced apartment?

Though there are plenty of reasons to stay at a serviced apartment if you're traveling for a longer period of time, there are a few drawbacks to consider as well. First of all, hotels have certain hospitality industry standards that a serviced apartment may not adhere to. For example, with a hotel, you can generally call the front desk and request toiletries or housekeeping service instantly. With a serviced apartment, such requests may not be fulfilled as quickly.

Also, you may find that hotels have an advantage over serviced apartments as far as location goes. Serviced apartments are often located among residential properties, which means they're not necessarily close to city amenities, business centers, and easy transportation. When you stay at a hotel, you're generally in an area that offers these perks. (Then again, you may find that a central location is a negative if it lends to more nighttime noise.)

Also, not all serviced apartments are created equal. You may find that you get a wider range of amenities with a hotel, despite the fact that you end up living with less space during your stay.

How to choose between a serviced apartment and a hotel

If you have a number of short-term stays on the horizon and you're not sure which property type to choose, ask yourself whether you prefer a more homey feel, which an apartment will give you, or whether you'd prefer to err on the side of added amenities, which you may get with a hotel room. Also, think about who's footing the bill for your accommodation. If it's your company and money is no object, then you may opt to stick with a hotel. But if you're self-employed and your business trips eat into your personal revenue, then a serviced apartment could be a cheaper bet.

Should you invest in a serviced apartment?

If you're the type to dabble in real estate, you might consider investing in a serviced apartment. Doing so has its pros and cons.

First, the positive. Serviced apartments may result in a higher amount of rental income than a standard apartment. The people who pay for serviced apartments tend to be business travelers who have more money to spend on lodging than traditional renters. Serviced apartments also tend to attract travelers who are more likely to treat that space with respect. The result? Fewer repairs that you need to pay for.

On the other hand, serviced apartments, by nature, involve a fair amount of turnover. Rather than rent one of your units out for a year at a time, you're more likely looking at one- or two-month stints. Even if your property is located in a prime market, you may find that you have gaps in your rental income.

Also, there are expenses involved in offering a serviced apartment -- namely, the amenities mentioned earlier. As such, you'll need to account for those costs (things like maid service) and price your units accordingly.

If you're thinking of investing in a serviced apartment, make sure you choose the right location. Specifically, focus on areas that see a lot of business travelers. You might also try to invest in a serviced apartment in an area where hotels aren't so plentiful, or are prohibitively expensive or dated.

The bottom line on serviced apartments

Whether you're looking to stay in a serviced apartment or invest in one, there are plenty of good reasons to go that route. Just do your research thoroughly so you know what you're signing up for.

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