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A serviced apartment is a type of furnished apartment available for short-term or long-term stays, which provides amenities for daily use. Serviced apartments can be less expensive than equivalent hotel rooms. Because of the beginning of the boom in cheap international travel as well as the corresponding increase in the level of sophistication of international travelers, interest in serviced apartments has risen at the expense of the use of hotels for short stays. Benefits may include more space and privacy, convenience when traveling with a family, and the savings associated with cooking one's own meals in the apartment.
The above benefits and criteria were highlighted in the inaugural Global Serviced Apartment Industry Report 2008, which was produced following a survey of 20,000 serviced apartment operators, corporate travel agents, and apartment bookers worldwide.
The term "serviced apartment" is used when referring to an alternative for hotel accommodation for short and long-stay leisure and business travelers, but distinctions can made between the different types:
First is the extended stay hotel or "aparthotel," which generally offers a 24 h reception, is located in city centers, and attempts to give the guest a home away from home feeling, within a hotel-like environment. It can range from budget to deluxe, and rooms range from studio apartments (one room that can be used as living area and sleeping area, a little kitchenette and a separate bathroom), to two- or three-bedroom apartments, which offer a separate living area, a kitchen, one or more bathrooms and separate bedrooms.
Because of the availability of kitchen facilities in the apartments, extended stay properties and apart-hotels usually offer no extra services, such as restaurants and bars. However, some extended stay properties have been built as an annex to existing four- or five-star hotels, and the guests in the apartments can make use of the hotel's facilities at no extra charge.
Second is corporate housing. These are residential properties that have been upgraded for shorter term rentals and packaged together with services such as cleaning, utility charges, local taxes, telephone and television for stays of 30 days or more. They can be in city centres but are more often than not on the outskirts of town, within easy access to main business areas.
What both types have in common is that the units are all fully furnished and equipped and the guests will enter a home away from home, with cooking facilities and all modern conveniences such as television, DVD, and internet access. Some are equipped even have luxury features such as European-style gourmet kitchens, generous closet space, full-sized washer and dryer, ceramic tiled bathrooms, oversized tubs, and high-tech wiring/networking capabilities. Having a kitchen means that the client can opt for eating in instead of eating out and so make an instant saving. Other benefits of a serviced apartment include, added space to both work and play, more privacy, and more comfort.
The serviced apartment concept was created in the United States, which remains worldwide very influential in the sector.
The nature of serviced apartments mean the booking process can be more involved than booking a hotel. Some serviced apartment operators require a damage or security deposit, and others may want to charge for additional services such as internet and parking. Popularity of extended stay apartments resulted in new online reservation networks designed specifically for apartments. Such online service allow guests to book their stay almost as easy as booking a hotel room.
A popular way to overcome these issues is to book through a serviced apartment agent, who makes thousands of reservations for clients every week and can guide the guest through the process. Agents can also use their buying power to negotiate money from the standard nightly rate and/or the inclusion of additional services, such as internet, if they are not included as standard.
Serviced apartments offer concrete benefits for travelers. Serviced apartments are more cost efficient because their rates are typically lower than that of hotel rooms. Serviced apartments also offer long-term rates, which translate to discounts.
Space is also a benefit when getting a serviced apartment. A group of travelers can share the cost of one apartment and live together. Most apartments offer more than one bedroom, which can then be occupied by more than one renter. Additionally renters have a convenience of having access to private fully equipped kitchen, when they can cook their own meals.