“Do you really need to have your sheets cleaned every day?” wonders Naomi Heaton, co-owner of The Other House. It’s something I’ve thought about when staying at hotels: is anyone really that dirty?
Heaton is explaining the cleaning regime at The Other House, the long stay accommodation, or ‘resident’s club’, which she founded.
“For short stayers we provide housekeeping light, which is purely cleaning, tidying, making the bed. But you have to ask for it. If you want to do it yourself, you can. Then we will do a full clean once a week. If you want it more often, you have to make that choice and you pay for it.”
This unique approach to housekeeping is indicative of two of The Other House’s guiding principles: residents have complete control over their stay and everything is designed with sustainability in mind.
Personalisation: What you want, when you want it
Giving guests or residents ownership of their experience is a trend that’s everywhere in the travel world, or ‘personalisation’ as those in the industry call it.
Gone are the days of a breakfast buffet that’s open for two hours and after that you go hungry. Now you can choose from room service, restaurant, street cafe or getting a takeout. As Heaton says, “At The Other House, it's your house, your rules. We want it to be that when you come in, you feel at ease, you don't feel all that stuffy formality of a hotel.”
Club flats make up the majority of the accommodation at The Other House, which opened this summer in South Kensington in London. They have been carefully designed to make it feel like you’re coming home: you walk through the living room to get to the bedroom, mirroring a home rather than a typical hotel room where you walk straight into your bedroom.
Likewise when you walk in the main entrance, the lifts are straight ahead of you and the Reception desk is tucked off to the side. You feel like you’re coming into your own apartment building.
The convenience of a concierge in a place that feels like home
With a pedigree in buying, refurbing and renting out property, Heaton was perfectly placed to open The Other House. While it may seem designed for post-pandemic travellers who work from anywhere and combine business with pleasure, Heaton actually started developing it back in 2012.
Having worked in property in central London for 30 years, she found that tenants in rented properties were asking for hotel services - a concierge to collect your deliveries, a gym, housekeeping. So the residents’ club concept was born.
It may have been conceived pre-pandemic but this sort of accommodation is certainly benefitting from post-pandemic shifts.
There was a mass exodus from London during the pandemic, with many city dwellers moving out of the capital in search of more space. But now they have been told to work from their London office two or three days a week. Long stay accommodation is perfect for them, saving them having to rent a flat they only stay in for a few nights a week.
‘Everything in this building is conscious’
The growing popularity of longer trips is also part of the drive towards travelling more sustainably. If you want to take fewer flights every year, it makes sense that you stay abroad for longer and maybe travel within the country while you’re there.
As a climate journalist, I was impressed by the lengths Heaton has gone to to reduce the property’s footprint. The bathroom in the club flat where I stayed felt a bit sparse at first. Then I realised it was because the sink wasn’t surrounded by the usual tissues, cotton wool buds and nail kit. Imagine how many millions of these are thrown away by hotel cleaning staff every day and you can see why The Other House decided not to provide them. As Heaton says, “If you want it, you can ask for it.” Not assuming what guests want is a very good way to cut down on waste.
There’ll soon be an app where residents can track how much energy their club flat is using, so there’s an impetus for them to reduce their usage.
Takeaway in your room? No shame in that
There was a pleasing buzz around The Other House, akin to a co-working space rather than a typical business hotel where guests avoid eye contact, much too important to interact with others.
It has shared spaces that facilitate interacting with other guests, or there’s plenty of room in your own flat if you want your own space.
This is where it comes into its own: business travel can be exhausting and sometimes you’d rather watch a movie in your room than sit alone in the restaurant. At The Other House slobbing is actively encouraged thanks to a post room on the ground floor. Delivery drivers can drop off your order here then you can amble down to pick it up.
Travel shifted in huge ways during the two years we were all stuck at home and these changes show no signs of reversing. Long stay accommodation fills a niche that we previously didn’t see.
Club Classics at The Other House start from £350 (€407) per night with long stays of 90 days plus costing £995 (€1,157) a week
Ruth Wright was a guest of The Other House.