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What is the difference between serviced and non-serviced accommodation?

London | 4 MIN READ

If you’re tempted by the amenities and flexibility provided by an apartment, you'll most likely come across the terms ‘serviced’ and ‘non-serviced’.

If you're stuck wondering what's the difference between a serviced and non-serviced apartment, we can help.

This article explains and compares the pros and cons of both.

(You can also read our essential guide to serviced apartments to find out more.)

What is a serviced apartment?

A ‘serviced apartment’ is a type of furnished accommodation which is available for a short- or long-term stay. It comes with all the comforts required to feel at home: space to relax, amenities like phone and Wi-Fi and includes utilities and local taxes in the fee. They are also, as the name suggests, serviced.

Services include, as a minimum: Housekeeping, 24-hour customer care and increased security measures. Some establishments (like Dolphin Square) also offer onsite staff, 24-hour reception and other luxury guest amenities.

The apartments are managed professionally and available to rent all year round.

Some serviced apartment providers - also including Dolphin Square - are accredited members of The ASAP (The Association of Serviced Apartment Providers), which means they have to adhere to a ‘Stay with Confidence promise’ which includes assurance of the level and quality of customer care, safety and security provided.

The flexibility, privacy and convenience of serviced apartments means they suit the needs of a wide assortment of travellers, including: professionals on short term business trips; long-term executive renters; family and group holidays and people relocating during home renovations.

What is a non-serviced apartment?

A non-serviced apartment is short- or long- stay accommodation which may be privately owned and let, often through a website such as Airbnb. These can come in all shapes, sizes, locations and levels of quality. They can be found fully-, semi- or unfurnished. 

These apartments are not serviced, as the name suggests. So no security, no housekeeping etc.

As well as apartments, non-serviced accommodation might include other types of property such as cottages or caravans.

As short-stay accommodation non-serviced apartments may be available only for limited times of the year, for example when the owner is away. When let longer-term they may be managed by a letting agent.

This type of accommodation might be suitable for a tenant moving to a new city or as a short-term let for a group or family holiday.

Serviced vs non-serviced apartments: The key differences

In this section you'll find handy lists of the pros and cons of both apartment types. The idea is to give you the information you need, at a glance.

Pros of a non-serviced apartments:

  • Privacy 
  • Potentially limitless range of options available, if you know where to look
  • Self-catered
  • Most include a washing machine or access to laundry facilities
  • Can be low cost
  • You can find hidden gems
  • Home-from-home environment

Cons of non-serviced accommodation:

  • Little or no additional security
  • Potential risk that comes with dealing with private property owners
  • No onsite staff
  • Inconsistent quality, no guarantee or assurance
  • No required standard of health and safety adherence
  • May require a lot of research to find your ideal match
  • Additional guests may affect your stay

Pros of a serviced apartment:

  • Self-catering facilities
  • Wide range of options
  • 24-hour customer care, ranging from a contact number to a staffed reception (depending on the property)
  • Housekeeping included
  • Utilities and local taxes included
  • Accrediting bodies for quality assurance
  • Professionally managed
  • Booking websites and letting advice easy to access
  • Electronic safe and/or security systems (e.g. CCTV, Doormen)
  • Often in prime locations
  • Guest amenities e.g. gym, pool, bar, restaurant (at some properties)
  • Easy to extend your stay
  • Many properties family-friendly
  • A home-from-from environment with hotel conveniences
  • Flexibility and freedom when hosting guests (depending on COVID restrictions)
  • Great value

Cons of serviced apartments:

  • Cancellation terms at some properties may be restrictive
  • Onsite facilities vary and do not always include gym, restaurant, reception or parking
  • Limited or no staff present onsite at more residential-style properties
  • Average 80% occupancy rate at any time, so may need to book in advance to avoid disappointment

Serviced and non serviced accommodation

Why choose a serviced apartment?

Put simply: serviced accommodation shares most of the pros you would find with a non-serviced apartment, but also comes with a great deal more convenience and luxury.

The major difference is the level (or even just the presence) of customer care. With this comes improved experience and peace of mind provided by added security and on-hand assistance should anything go wrong. 

Regular cleaning and laundering of linens means you have more time to enjoy your stay without having to worry about managing housekeeping yourself.

A serviced apartment gives you the best of both worlds. The luxury and high customer care of a quality hotel, combined with the freedom, flexibility and homely-feel of a private rental, allows you to live like a local while enjoying the convenience of being a valued guest.

If you opt for an ASAP accredited provider you can relax, safe with the guarantee that you will receive a consistent level of care, security and quality assurance, along with committed, professional management.

You can choose how you enjoy your space and many properties have access to extra amenities. Properties are often set up in prime locations, so there are usually excellent transport links and interesting local areas to explore.

Finding the right serviced accommodation for you

As the industry grows it’s easy to find the right serviced accommodation for your stay, whatever your requirements. At Dolphin Square, the options range from a studio to a luxury 3-bedroom apartment.

These all come with a maid service, luxurious bed(s), fine linens, towels, equipped kitchenette (or full kitchen), en suite or separate bathroom, direct line phone with voicemail, WiFi, onsite laundry, reception and guest amenities.

And thanks to the economics of renting out multiple, purpose-specific properties in one space, serviced apartment providers can often afford to operate in prime, central locations - allowing you to get a better value apartment for a lot less than a private let in a similar locale. This can give you prime locations you may not otherwise access, such as right in the heart of London where you can make the most of the local area.

The inclusive packages and well-thought-out convenience and sophistication of a luxury home-away-from-home means that choosing a serviced apartment can save you time, energy and money, without compromising on freedom or quality.

So have a look through the options available today, and make even more of a saving with Dolphin Square’s current offers.