There's no doubt about it, London will burst at the seams this summer as the world converges for the 2012 Olympic Games between the dates of July 27 and Aug. 12.
The Olympics will be a massive citywide celebration that stretches far beyond the East End. Even if you don't have tickets to the Games, there are still seats available for the London Prepares events in the days leading up to July 27. During the actual festivities, there will be hundreds of other events, namely the Cultural Olympiad and the London 2012 Festival.
By the numbers: London typically sees about 1.5 million summer visitors each August. The British Hospitality Association estimates that 294,000 additional visitors from abroad and 587,000 from the UK will bring the number up considerably. London has a total of roughly 110,000 hotel rooms that will sell for an average of $341 a night and 40,000 of those will be used by Olympic staff, affiliates, and the media.
With these figures, officials warn that finding a hotel room for the Olympics at this stage is next to impossible; however, one organization proposes an alternative.
Onefinestay, billed as London's first unhotel, allows visitors to stay in a home away from home while the owner is out of town. Given that many Londoners would rather escape from the chaos, there are several properties available for last-minute bookings during the Olympics.
CEO Greg Marsh said Onefinestay offers a far more authentic experience for visitors to London.
Staying in a real person's home while they're out of town lets you live like a local, in a local neighborhood and walk in that person's shoes for a few days and nights, he said. We also offer more space, convenience and comfort than a hotel.
During the Olympics, prices start at around $300 and go to $3,000 per night, which Marsh calls a bargain.
Of course, there are several websites that offer similar services like Airbnb, HomeAway, and FlipKey, but Marsh said Onefinestay provides more comprehensive hotel-style amenities. Every home is thoroughly cleaned beforehand, the bathroom is kitted out courtesy of The White Co., and the beds are made up with five-star linens, which Marsh claimed can be done with hospital corners, if you'd like.
There's also a free weekly maid service, coffee, tea, and breakfast, and a list of personalized recommendations from the people who live there. There is always a personal welcome from a Onefinestay staff member, but for a fee, the service can pick you up at the airport or even fill the fridge for you.
Homes available for the Olympics on Onefinestay:
- For guests keen to be close to the Olympics action, a contemporary, family-friendly apartment in Shoreditch is just a short overground ride away from the main Olympic venues. It sleeps four and costs $304 per bedroom per night.
- For a large group or family, there's a beautiful five-bedroom home available in Highgate. Sleeping eight or nine people, this costs just $299 per bedroom per night for the Games.
- More central homes available during the Games include a two bedroom apartment in Bloomsbury. This spacious apartment sleeps four and is costs $339 per bedroom per night.
Currently, Onefinestay is only available in London, but the company plans to have an unhotel in every major world city and will announce its first international expansion later this year.