Latest on the blog

Thursday, 27 August 2015

How Best to Prepare Your Flat for Guests

Ready for another season of FlatClub guests? We know we are! There are some ways you can really improve their experience, and therefore make yourself more likely to get some awesome reviews. Just a few quick things you can pick up will make all the difference for your guests!

Things to Leave in the Flat

When your guest arrives to the city, there may be some things that they’re missing. Some things that are rather vital, depending on where you are in the world!


Umbrella - Yes, if you are in London or any other rainy clime, this is a necessity for your guests! You can choose to make it a gift to your guests (you can find inexpensive umbrellas on the high street in the UK for around £7) or you can supply it with the addendum that it must be returned at the end of the stay. Easy peasy! Steve in London leaves these umbrellas behind for guests to take back with them, if necessary. It’s a small investment.


Tea/Coffee and Biscuits/Cookies - Leave tea & biscuits behind for guests visiting London or Dublin, so they get a taste of something classical. We suggest Twinings as an excellent classic British brand for visitors. Any biscuits from a shop will do, but something like digestives, shortbread, or HobNobs are the most well-known. If you’re outside of the UK, you may find that some local coffee & local cakes or cookies are even more well-appreciated! Sue in New York is always sure to leave a few K-Cups for her Keurig machine with a note so guests know that they can, and how to use them.


Hairdryer - You’d be surprised at how many people don’t provide this, or at the very least, don’t specify where it is in the flat. Your guest will most certainly need to wash their hair at some point during their stay, and if they have any length at all they’ll want to be able to dry it quickly. Do them a favor and leave the hairdryer in an easy-to-find area of the house, or otherwise leave a note as to it’s location.


Personal Care Items
- Imagine you’ve just landed in a big, unfamiliar city - and as luck would have it, you’ve forgotten toothpaste. D’oh! You know it’s a bit difficult to remember every single thing when you travel, so we suggest leaving a small tube of toothpaste, mouthwash, face wash and moisturizer behind. Find small trial sizes in the drugstore or chemist, they’re just perfect for this occasion.

Services That Help for Fun & Serious Business

When your guests arrive to a new city, depending on the nature of their travels, they’ll need entertainment or help getting around the city. We have suggestions for both!

Netflix - Do you have Netflix? It's only the most popular TV & movie streaming service in the world right now, so if you don’t have it, why not download it before guests arrive? Leave it installed on on your computer or television and give your guests directions on how to operate it. They’ll appreciate access to all of the great Netflix content when they’re relaxing in the evening.
Citymapper, find in the App Store

CityMapper & other apps - In London CityMapper is the best app for getting around the city. With information on public transportation & directions that will give you a good estimation of when you will actually arrive. Leave information on CityMapper (if it’s in your city) or other similar mapping & directions apps in a note on the kitchen table. Keith in London always recommends that his guests download CityMapper before they even arrive.

Physically Prepare the Flat

Of course, you need to leave the flat in clean condition before you leave, but there are some things you may not have considered that aren’t so obvious.

Leave the Windows Open - This airs out your flat and makes the general atmosphere a bit more fresh & clean-feeling. If it’s the summertime you may be cautious of insects coming in, so perhaps it’s best to open them right before the guest arrives so that lessens the amount of time they could fly in.

Leave a Few Drawers Empty - Leave a few drawers open and empty so that guests can put their things away and get comfortable. This is really only necessary if your guest is staying for more than a few days, which many FlatClub guests do. Our guests stay on average for about a month, and in that amount of time they’re likely to want to stop living outside of their suitcase!


Leave a Candle Available to Light - If you’re happy for guests to light candles, leave a little tinned candle for them to light themselves. We recommend something light and pleasant like vanilla or something citrusy. Sofia in Milan leaves a local Italian lemon candle behind for guests to light and enjoy.

Do all these things, or just a few that make sense for you & your property and you may just receive an awesome gift right back from your guests! Just like this lovely wine, chocolate, and letter from a guest that our CEO Nitzan recently received.


Guest Post: London's Most Elegant Dining Destinations

FlatClub can help you find amazing accommodation at a good price in London, but everyone should have a truly luxurious experience while staying in the city. Let our friends at TRULY help you figure out the best way to splash out.

The culinary experts at TRULY, from ex-Michelin chefs to globetrotting foodies, run through the most elegant dining experiences in London. The Ledbury
Tucked away in a corner of Notting Hill, The Ledbury may well be discreet, but is also undoubtedly magnificent. Despite being awarded two-Michelin stars and breaking into the San Pellegrino's top 10 restaurants in the World, the Ledbury still maintains an impressive local identity. Regulars enjoy the venue’s bright, uncomplicated, but opulent dining room.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Joël Robuchon. Named “Chef of the Century” by the prestigious Gault Millau guide and holding 28 Michelin stars worldwide - more than anybody else - he may well be the world’s most prominent chef. In fact, one of his rivals, Gordon Ramsay, was trained by the great man. Ramsay, as you might expect, was a stroppy apprentice and Robuchon admits he once aimed a plate in the Scot’s direction.

There are a host of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon restaurants worldwide, taking on a new concept of fine dining. The London outpost is among the finest, Robuchon himself labelling the city as the contemporary world centre of cuisine. With a unique counter concept, that invites customer interaction with the kitchen team, it might well be apt that this theatre for the senses is located in London’s West End.



Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
As you might expect, Heston has many a surprise up his sleeve in his London restaurant. The food at Dinner is characteristically experimental, from the ‘porridge of frogs’ legs’ to the chicken liver and foie gras that takes the appearance of a clementine.

The obscurity of dishes on the menu have not detracted from the restaurant’s accomplishments. Within a year of opening in 2011, Dinner was awarded its first Michelin star, has more recently obtained a second, and has become one of the world’s best new places to dine - consistently ranked in the world’s top 10 restaurants by San Pellegrino.

Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester [TRULY partner]
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is unquestionably the most lavish restaurant in town. Situated in the five-star Dorchester, an unmitigated attention to detail, from the 4,500 glimmering fibre optics as part of the décor, to the scrupulousness put into every element of every dish is immediately present.

It would be remiss not to point out that Alain Ducasse is one of the biggest names in gastronomy and he concurs with Robuchon, that London is the culinary capital of the world. In fact, he believes the Michelin guide ought to be acknowledging this in their ratings of restaurants in the capital.



Le Gavroche

This restaurant
is a behemoth of the London dining scene. Offering unapologetically old-school fine dining since opening in Chelsea in 1967, it has since become a staple of London’s haute cuisine. First opened by the Roux brothers, Albert and Michel, it’s now run by Michel Roux Jr who took the reins in 1991. The classical, rich and indulgent French cuisine is the main draw at Michel Roux Jr’s renowned London institution, and long may it continue to reign supreme.

Hibiscus [TRULY partner]
Recently rated by the Good Food Guide as one of the best restaurants in Britain, the double Michelin star Hibiscus serves up fine seasonally changing dishes. All ingredients are sourced within the UK, while the in-season mantra is taken very seriously. In summer, for example, dishes such as Var Salmon, Artichoke Barigoule & Eucalyptus are offered.

Head-chef Claude Bosi originally opened the restaurant in Somerset, where it quickly garnered two Michelin stars. Always striving for a new challenge, Claude moved Hibiscus to London, where it continues to be recognised for Bosi’s passion for flavours, simplicity, and elegance.

Discover more glamorous dining experiences in London with TRULY, part of their collection of extraordinary experiences.

Friday, 21 August 2015

5 Best Productivity Apps

(this article was written by Alicia, one of our international interns - she's super productive here in the office so she knows what she's talking about! download these apps to be productive too)

September is almost here. It is time for us all to get more productive and start working harder towards our goals. If you are like me and can get overwhelmed by all the stuff you have to do, check out my 5 must have apps for a more organized life.

1. Any Do This app is an excellent to-do list and task manager. I tried several task management oriented apps and this one is the best I have found and I use it regularly. The reminders and notifications will make sure you get everything done on time and the daily planner will definitely help you improve your productivity and efficiency.

Preferred Feature: The action shortcuts feature which allows you to call, text or email within the app. Works really well to stay focused!

2. Peak Peak is more about training your brain and improving your mental ability. The workouts are challenging but the interface will make you forget the app is about stimulating your brain and not something more exciting.

Preferred Feature: The personalized workouts.

3. Evernote Evernote is one of the most popular app when it comes to productivity. The app is very flexible with clean and sleek features and makes the note-taking experience way easier and quicker.

Preferred Feature: The possibility to save all your files (notes, photos, recordings) in the cloud and get to them anywhere you have access to the internet.

4. Forest If you are a phone addict (aren’t we all?) and can not help checking your phone even when something important needs to be done, this app will encourage you to stop. You plant a seed, which grows into a tree over the course of 30 minutes. If you open another app while this happening, you'll kill the tree. It's a great way to incentivize spending your time wisely.

Preferred Feature: The seeds planting part!



5. Headspace Because of all the good work you have done with your new awesome apps, your brain deserves a little rest & relaxation. Headspace helps you sleep, focus and relax through meditation.

Preferred Feature: Intuitive app which offers timed and short sessions for us busy people!

3 Ways to Better Yourself on the Internet

(this article was written by one of our international interns, Alicia - we know she spends her time online well here in the office, so let her give you some tips!)
You can easily get lost browsing the web. We have all have turned to Google to help us find something important, then  got lost watching Buzzfeed videos and kittens on YouTube. It happens!

I learned to get past the irrelevant, closed all of my social media tabs and found some pretty interesting thing to do!a

On the internet we can:

1. Get an Education

Sure, very obvious for those already taking courses online but I was amazed at the amount of diverse things we can learn on websites like Coursera, edX, and Carnegie MellonCoursera is an education platform which offers free courses online. The courses are all very nicely organised from an introduction/syllabus to lectures, assignments and a final exam at the end. The platform is a wonderful way to learn more about a topic and truly work on it.

Be careful! I would suggest you focus on one or two subjects at first because it can get challenging.

Open Culture is also an online platform but focuses on bringing together different cultural and educational media from courses of course but also audio books and movies. The website has a lot to offer but also a lot of content that could be viewed as distraction.

2. Learn Another Language

For those you can not afford to spend a semester abroad or travelling to another country, learning a language online as a way to interact with more people seems like a good option.

Duolingo is a very good alternative to boring book lessons and cassette tapes. The website is free and lessons are available in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

It is however limited and If you wish to learn a language other than the ones above, I recommend you check out Babbel. Babbel is not free (from £8.95/month) but offers way more language options (like Swedish or Turkish) and focus on conversational skills.

The BBC also offers free lessons and courses online with audio, games, vocabulary and exercises. You can choose 40 languages from French, German to Chinese, Icelandic and Finnish. Pretty diverse and enough to do to never get bored!

3. Become a Person of Culture

This one is a bit tricky and depends on the idea you have of culture but I found that a good way to improve your common knowledge and form an opinion is reading. Or in this case, reading and watching videos.

TED is definitely my favorite because of its infinite variety of topics covered. It stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design but now covers all areas of ideas worth spreading. Just type in the topic you are interested in and access all sorts of articles and talks that will get you thinking.

Scribd lets you access millions of online books. With a library of more than 500,000 e-books, Scribd lets you browse through free documents and books by genre.

You can also check out Oyster & Amazon Kindle Unlimited for more options.

Take a virtual tour of your favorite museum unlike your local museums, the virtual tours of museums never close. Avoid the queue and gain access to tons of virtual tour of museums from the most famous ones like the Louvre Museum in Paris to The British Museum or the National Portrait Gallery.

How to Make Money While Studying or Interning Abroad

(this article was written by one of our interns from Paris, Alicia - she has lots of experience in interning or studying abroad, so read on for her best advice)

Studying away from home is a lot of fun and whatever you end up doing, your experience abroad will help you figure yourself out and give you tons of opportunities.

I myself studied and interned abroad on two different occasions. I know it can sometimes be tough to live away from the comfort of your home and not being able to work. Here is a list of tips and ways to help you earn the extra money you need.

1. Cultivate what you are good at and try to make a living out of it. Sure, you won’t earn loads at first but you can end up earning some good money just by sharing your passion with the world. If you're a photographer, sell your art on Eyeem.com. Artsy and crafty people: Etsy is the place for you to sell your crafts.

2. Share your experience abroad. More than a simple diary that will help you remember what an amazing time you had, you can also earn some good money - via placing ads, for example. Writers, this could help you launch your career! The best place to start writing are Wordpress, Blogspot or even Tumblr.

3. Take on a freelance jobs. There are some pretty good freelance websites where you can offer your services and get paid for it. Good at designing or coding? Or are you an aspiring freelance translator ? Try one these websites to help you get started: Upwork, Guru, Freelancer, 99designs.


4. Try out Task Rabbit. Help your community and get paid to do small tasks for people in your neighborhood. Become a personal shopper or help a super busy family with their brand new Ikea table, or their brand new baby! PS : Task Rabbit and sites like Upwork let users rate you. The better rating you get, the more chances you will get to work and increase your £/hour.

5. Rent your apartment back home. Renting your apartment is a good way to pay for your own rent abroad or to help you settle in nicely in a new city. Plus, you make sure your apartment is getting cleaned and staying lively while you’re away. Check out our guide to renting your apartment FlatClub Blog for tips on how to make money with your apartment.

6. Ask your university. Check with your university to see if they have available vacancies for students. Most of the time, universities will need people to answer other students inquiries or welcome foreign students and show them around. It's a great opportunity to get more involved in university life, as well.

7. Teach a language. This is one of the best ways to make a little bit of money when abroad. I suggest you post your ad next to your university and schools to make sure that you get some calls! Great way to know more about a new culture, and interact with locals.

8. Sell your stuff online. I have done it hundred of times and it always went incredibly well. I would recommend Ebay for electronic stuff & assorted goods, and Asos Marketplace or Vinted for clothing.

9. Work weekend shifts at the local coffee shop. Working part time at your local coffee shop can be a good experience. Making money and being able to interact with locals will sure make your weekends longer, but your experience abroad will be more valuable.


10. Answer surveys online. Not the quickest way to make money but good way to earn maybe an extra 100 euros a month. Check out Global Test Market or Cash Crate.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Top 5 New Travel Apps


We’ve covered some travel apps a couple of years ago, but there have been improvements to the scene since then! Here are the 5 best new travel apps for 2015.


Hopper - This app is perfect for when you are just in the planning stages of a trip. Hopper analyzes tons of flights to bring you the best deals for your trip. It uses historical data on millions of previous flights to come back & let you know the best times and dates to search for airfare.

The London Official City Guide App - This is an absolute must app while you’re travelling in London! It’s the official app for the City of London, and is created by a team that shares our office space in TechHub, What Now Travel. You’ll be able to watch maps & read information even when offline, so you don’t need to worry about roaming charges while you roam about the city. Great for when you’re out on the town - you can find flats & rooms with wifi in London on FlatClub, though!

TripAdvisor - If you’re anywhere else in the world besides London, TripAdvisor actually provides quite a few offline guides for cities as well. There are lots of user-contributed content, as well. It’s worth a download as lots of people use TripAdvisor to rate galleries, restaurants, and even landmarks.

Postagram - If you like to send postcards on your travels, Postagram will be your new best friend. As the name suggests, it’s a photo app where photos taken on your phone can be chosen for conversion into a postcard. That means you can quite instantly get a real, physical postcard into the mail, winging it’s way to relatives, friends, co-workers - anyone you want, anywhere in the world! It costs between $1.00 - $1.99, depending on where you’re sending the postcard off to.

JetLag Genie - A great choice, you’ll want to make sure you have this one ready to go a week or so before your flight, as some of the advice it gives you to take is actually before your flight. Helps to align your sleeping and eating schedule to your destination early, so you don’t lose time once you’ve arrived.

We hope that you find these apps useful before and during your stay at a FlatClub property.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

5 Best Places to Study Abroad


It’s time to start considering whether or not you’ll study abroad this next semester. If you decide to - which we really recommend - there are a few cities that offer unique opportunities that you otherwise may miss. We’ve highlighted here the 5 Best Cities to Study Abroad.


London
Of course we’ve got to hand it up to the city FlatClub is based in. It’s not just hometown pride though, London is one of the most popular cities to study abroad in. Students who speak English natively will feel comfortable here, and students who’d like to learn English will find themselves completely immersed - which is the best way to learn a language.

London is home to a multitude of free museums, some of the best universities in the world, and diverse cultural experience. It’s well worth studying here if given the chance! Find great accommodation for your study abroad in London at FlatClub.

Munich
Munich may not be the biggest city in Germany, but it is one of the friendliest & most well-liked for study abroad students. Berlin being such a big international city won’t give you the same truly German experience that Munich will. If you are learning German, Munich is an excellent choice as the immersion levels will be high. You may come away from Munich speaking a regionally accented version of German, however!

Enjoy the Bavarian culture, world class education, and beautiful sights of Munich. Need a place to stay? We have plenty of study abroad accommodation in Munich.

Beijing
If you have the opportunity to study abroad in China, it’s a must do! China’s economy continues to grow and as they become more & more of a world power a knowledge of the cultural customs (& even more the Mandarin language) will be an important part of a business leader’s education. There is no better place to learn Mandarin Chinese than Beijing. There are also many international schools that can teach in dual languages.

Beijing is the place to go if you want to be ahead of your peers as an international business person. While we don't have a huge presence in Beijing at the moment, if you're interested in hosting from China please get in touch!

Zurich
Zurich in Switzerland is home to some emerging new businesses & of course the old stalwarts of Switzerland - banks. It’s a perfect place to study abroad if you plan to work in finance, as you’ll certainly make some connections. The language spoken, Swiss German, is a specialized language that may not prove so useful in the long run - however many Swiss speak English as well making it a good choice for students who aren’t looking to study a language.

It’s a beautiful and unique city, where you can learn a lot about finance and make some new connections while you study abroad. Stay with FlatClub for a great deal in Zurich study abroad rooms & apartments.

New York
New York is one of the most internationally recognized cities in the world, making it a popular choice for study abroad students. Learn English through immersion, study in some of the finest universities particularly for creative studies, and get a unique experience unlike any you would find elsewhere in the world.

New York is home to some of the most famous streets & landmarks in the world, plenty of nightlife, and excellent opportunities. Find accommodation for study abroad in New York on FlatClub.