BACKGROUND: Deep Blue operates more than 5,000 serviced apartments in cities and commercial centres throughout the UK, with over 100 in London. Its latest opening is its London Victoria property on Bridge Place, which opened this month. The lowest minimum stay at Deep Blue apartments is three nights, and minimum stays vary between properties.
The brand recently introduced its “Flying Butler service” for selected London properties. For additional fees, guests can receive transfers from any London airport or train station, “additional housekeeping”, a dry cleaning service and grocery deliveries. Prices for the grocery packages vary depending on the hamper of groceries ordered, starting from £40 plus VAT and increasing to £75 plus VAT.
The three-floor Durweston House property has 20 apartments: two studios, four one-bedroom apartments, eight two- bedroom apartments, four two-bedroom Executive apartments and two three-bedroom apartments. All are non-smoking, and available for guests from 4pm. Check-out is until 10am, after which a penalty charge may be incurred. The minimum stay for Durweston House is seven nights.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The building’s location on a sidestreet gives it a secretive feel, and the surroundings are very quiet considering how close it is to the bustling Marylebone Road. I was emailed two four-digit codes before my arrival – one for the main door and the other for the apartment – and had no problems entering the property. There was no reception area, but the rooms were clearly signposted.
While the apartments were unmanned – there was no reception area, nor anyone to greet you on arrival – I had been given a number to call if there were any maintenance issues, and there was a booklet in my apartment with some information such as how to control the heating and log on to the free wifi.
WHERE IS IT? A few blocks off Marylebone Road, a five-minute walk from Baker Street Tube. The building is situated where Durweston Street meets Crawford Street, the latter being lined with townhouses, sophisticated restaurants and a couple of convenience shops. Madame Tussauds, Regents Park and Oxford Street are all within walking distance, and there is a Tesco on Baker Street, a couple of minutes’ walk away.
FACILITIES I stayed in Apartment One on the first floor, which was a two-bedroom apartment (80 sqm in size) with windows facing onto a courtyard. It was immaculate and freshly decorated, with a simple, modern style.
The spacious lounge had black and white photography of Piccadilly Circus blown up on canvas, as well as some red abstract art that matched the scarlet towel rug upon the light wooden floors. The dark leather sofas had red spotty cushions, and there was a sleek coffee table between them. While the electric radiators appeared dated, they worked well, and heated up the room really quickly, I was surprised at their efficiency, and they were also easy to use.
There was a medium-sized (32-inch) LCD TV – this could have done with an enhanced sound system, as the quality of its speakers was rather tinny. There was a DVD and Sky box with a huge selection of Sky Channels. The property’s free wifi was fast – it cut out once but was easy and quick to reconnect. There were logically placed plug sockets – one was near the dining table for working and another was near the leather sofas.
The two bedrooms were homely and clutter-free and fresh, with monochrome furnishings (both had a white colour scheme, one had splashes of lime green, the other purple). Both rooms had beds with chocolate faux leather headboards, a chest of drawers, drawers either side of the bed and wardrobes with wooden clothes hangers. There were shutter blinds rather than curtains, and mini electric heaters on the walls rather than radiators – again, these worked really well. Radio alarm clocks, electric fans, towels, sewing and nail care kits and shoe mitts were provided.
The smaller bedroom had an en suite bathroom with a walk-in shower and a wardrobe containing a clothes horse, a laptop safe, an iron and ironing board, and spare electric fan. Both bathrooms had White Company toiletries, and plug sockets for shavers. The main bathroom had a shower over the bath.
In the hallway there was a hoover, a mop and a bucket – housekeeping visits the apartments once a week, “normally on Thursdays” according to the manual. Staff clean and vacuum rooms, tidy areas and clean surfaces, but don’t do laundry or washing up.
The bright, contemporary kitchen was well-equipped – it had the following amenities:
- washing machine
- electric oven
- fridge and freezer
- cutlery and glassware sets for six people
- selection of knives
- chopping board
- bread bin
- frying pan and saucepan set
- oven tray
- casserole dish
- tin opener
- spatula, potato masher
- cheese grater
- oven mitts
- (empty) salt and pepper shakers
- cleaning equipment – washing up liquid, scourer, tea towel, two washing machine tablets and two dish washer tablets
I tried Deep Blue’s Flying Butler service. The Standard hamper included a bottle of red wine (Plan De Dieu Côtes du Rhône Villages, 2011) ground coffee, a selection of Twinings herbal teas, two Galaxy hot chocolate sachets, a packet of Rich Tea biscuits, a packet of Weetabix cereal, olive oil, a bag of apples, Lurpak butter, strawberry jam, a box of eggs, and a packet of unsmoked bacon. At £40, the package was good value compared with hotel minibar prices, but perhaps guests would prefer to pay less and select items they want rather than paying the full price for the full package.
Overall, the apartment had a very calm feel and I liked the lack of clutter and the décor. It also had a good level of security, including the entry phone system. In terms of signage, there were several cards left around to remind you of the number to call if you had any problems, and a list of emergency numbers on the front door, including NHS Direct and Gas repairs.
There was a phone in the living room – dialling 1 or 3 put you through to a customer support team if there were housekeeping or maintenance issues. Phone charges were: UK national or local calls – 30p per minute, mobiles – £1.28 per minute, and international calls ranged from 98p per minute to £4.50 per minute depending on the area. You have to swipe your credit card down the side of the phone to make a call and you can also connect the phone to your laptop via a cable to make a modem call.
Parking spaces – located beneath the building – can be rented on a weekly basis.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: None on site, but there are many within walking distance – such as the independent eateries on Crawford Street and Pizza Express on Marylebone Road.
MEETING FACILITIES: None on site.
VERDICT: A private, peaceful apartment that felt secure in an excellent location for major London attractions and transport links. If you prefer face-to-face service from a serviced apartment property, then it may not be one for you, but if you value a home-away-from-home feel, it’s very good.
PRICES: Prices for seven-night stay at Durweston House started from £875 for a studio apartment.