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Old 11-05-2010, 11:15 PM   #1
BWV Owner
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
Posts: 311

RCI - London - Allen House

This is a review of the only London, UK property available as of 2009/2010 through RCI.

I've been back in the U.S. for about 24 hours now, and am quite certain that I've not had enough sleep to be completely coherent -- so, please, ask for clarification if I completely confuse you.

I don't have the exact dates, but I believe I requested two weeks in a one bedroom sometime around November, 2009 -- for any two consecutive weeks starting in September through the end of October, 2010. RCI does one week at a time, and I got confirmation about mid-January, 2010 that I had a reservation for the last full week of October. They still had the request open, hoping to get the second week, but I decided to cancel that and go with what I had (I paid cash for a second property, after our stay at Allen House.)

To begin with -- my rating of a place to stay for more than a couple of nights is most likely going to be different than yours. So: a perfect "10" for me would include a queen/king size bed, medium firmness mattress, bathroom with jacuzzi tub and shower (in one place so I don't have to move from one to the other,) well-appointed electric kitchen (including stand mixer, baking dishes, flat top range, dishwasher, garbage disposal,) a dining area that comfortably sits at least 4, and a living area with a large flat screen TV and cable, plus DVD player. The property would have lots of parking, be very well soundproofed, and any room would be close to an elevator. You would not have to brave the weather to get to a restaurant, of which there would be at least 3 -- American, Italian, and a Steakhouse. There would be a large, well stocked and reasonably priced grocery store about half a block away, and you could easily walk to all the parks as well as Downtown Disney from the hotel. (Obviously, I'm not ever going to get a perfect "10"!)

I own at Boardwalk, and rate it at about an 8.5 on the above scale. And, trust me, I am *very* happy I own DVC and at Boardwalk.

Allen House rates about a 5.5 for me. You can take a taxi to the place, but I'm all about saving money and seeing the culture of a place, so we used the Underground throughout our stay. (I went with my sister.) You take one line to a specific stop, then get out and transfer to another line, which you ride to the next stop, which is High Street Kensington. This stop is inside a small shopping arcade, with two or three quick food options (like, get a sandwich from a choice of 5, as opposed to "fast food" chains which would have 15-30 options.) You go out onto High Street Kensington, turn left, and walk for a couple of blocks, one of which is pretty long. Turn left again and walk less than half a block to Allen House.

We had a one-bedroom, flat #23. It's on the third floor (maybe the fourth, I get confused -- but the U.S. first floor is the ground floor in the U.K. and the next floor up is considered the first floor.) The elevator/"lift" is incredibly small. It is ranked for 4 people, but two really rather skinny adults with one bag each definitely filled it to capacity. We might have been able to put a 3 year old in there with us, but no more.

You walk into a tiny hallway. To your left is the dining/living room area. The dining area is quite spacious, with 4 chairs around a very nice table. The living area is also pretty big, with two sofas on either side of the room and a low table between. There's another chair after that, and a little 14 inch portable TV on a stand close to it before the windows to the alley. I'd estimate the area of these two rooms to be about the same size as the living room of a 1 bedroom BWV room.

To the right after entering the flat, is a short hallway. There's a closet on the right where we found two small fans (both worked,) an ironing board, drying rack, the hot water heater, etc. The bedroom is on the left, and further down the hall is the rather narrow kitchen on the left and the bathroom at the end of the hall. The bedroom is rather cramped with two twin beds (*very* firm mattresses) pushed together and a small makeup bench right next to the window. The kitchen is electric and has a range/hob, oven, fridge, dishwasher (which we didn't use,) sink and clothes washer/drier (the drier did not work.)

No dishwashing or laundry detergent given. No body soap or shampoo given. No wash cloths. Only one dish towel and one hot pad. Very few baking pans, but at least one skillet and a couple of sauce pans (we made spaghetti once.) There is no outlet in the bathroom at all, and it's tiled and very slippery if you're in socks or wet feet. Both sofas in the living room were sofabeds, but only one worked. If you bring a laptop, you can pay to get a dongle that will give you Internet access, but there's no wifi available at the property -- they claim that there's free wifi available at a few places around, but we never found any (and, believe me, we tried!) I paid a 5 pound deposit to get the keys (returned to me when I left) and another almost 40 pounds went to a utilities fee at the end of the stay. (If we'd used the phone, that would have also been added to the fee.) If you want a VCR or DVD player, that's an extra fee.

I estimate that the size of the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom would be about the size of the BWV bedroom; perhaps with the first BWV bathroom included. So, basically, the total size of the Allen House 1 bedroom is maybe a little over half the space of a 1 bedroom at Boardwalk. For London, I thought this was really a rather large accomodation -- and I am not being facetious! (Please note that I did not have a tape measure nor did I pay that much attention while we were there as to the size, so I'm just guesstimating these comparisons.)

I didn't expect the sofa to be a pull-out bed, so that was a plus. There was a towel warmer in the bathroom. The furnace was a bit much, but we figured out how to turn off the vents in each room and open windows if needed. There's a door to the living room which could be closed off. The neighborhood is rather quiet and you're less than a block from High Street Kensington and little shops to wander around in. There's a Starbucks at the corner, and a bookstore on the other corner. There's a small Tesco grocery a couple of blocks down and a very nice Whole Foods store in the arcade associated with the Underground stop. There's also a Marks & Spencer at that arcade, with their own food hall. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and new towels were delivered on Tuesday. We found four pillows and some blankets for the pull-out bed in the closet. There were plenty of towels in the bathroom. The people were very polite and helpful.

Overall, I was pleased with this property. If you can put up with being on a waitlist for quite some time, and definitely if you can give a range of weeks for them to look for, I would suggest you give this property serious consideration.

Of course, if you want twice the space at a property about half an hour further west (towards the airport and the opposite direction from most of the tourist sites) and are willing to pay real money (as opposed to DVC points,) the second place we stayed at -- 11 Derwent Yard -- ranks probably about a 7 on my scale of perfection. But that's not germane to this discussion. :-)
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