Under The Doormat Blog

The key to your local stay

The secrets of Hampstead

Hampstead is embarking on route taken by Notting Hill with the release of the film Hampstead, shot and set in this leafy and beautiful North London suburb. So before the area receives a flood of visitors, we delved into the nooks and crannies to bring you where the tourists (and guides) don’t even think about going. A hidden estate and a phone box serving coffee are just a couple of the weird and wonderful undiscovered gems we’ve glanced at.

And if you come across anything even we couldn’t find, give us a shout!




It’s amazing how many visitors to Hampstead Heath are not aware of this magnificent and measured masterpiece of an estate lying just alongside the park. Made into its current form in the late 17th century, Kenwood has been home to a esteemed members of London society including brewer Edward Cecil Guinness, who bequeathed his vast collection of art to the nation. And the art is stunning, with pieced by Gainsborough, Rembrandt and Van Dyjk to name a few.


2 Willow Road


You may be surprised to find a block of flats amongst our secrets of Hampstead: after all, they appear quite mundane. 2 Willow Road, however, represents a turning point in British post-war architecture and design, and, indeed, politics and British society itself. The flats were designed by Erno Goldfinger, who became so reviled for their new, modernist and radical design that he provided the inspiration for Ian Fleming as the name of James Bond’s nemesis. Hampstead at the time was home to a concentration of radical and politically active thinkers who were willing to experiment during the 20th century.


Unusual coffee spots

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Coffee shops are great, but why limit yourself to an actual room? Kape Barako had other ideas, preferring to serve their steaming cups of espresso from a traditional red phone box. The coffee is good, and the location iconic: just make sure you don’t miss it. Another wonderful addition to the area is The Coffee Cup, a Hampstead regular for over 50 years that today serves food in addition to its fantastic drinks.


Tricycle Theatre

London has an extensive and internationally renowned theatre scene, with new productions and classics making highly successful runs both here and abroad. It also specialises in local, community theatres, a fantastic example of which is the Tricycle Theatre found in Kilburn. It provided the platform for new, topical and innovative works, including recent one-man shows and thought-provoking performances engaging with immigration. The theatre is going from strength to strength as it looks to expand its facilities over the next few years.

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Go out for the weekend!

Whenever you read this, we’re pretty sure it’s already been a long week. So check out these four great activities that will give you a taste of something different this weekend.



1. Jump Higher and higher!


You’ve always wanted to jump on trampolines everywhere all night, right ? Well, it’s now possible at Oxygen Free Jumping in Acton: Experience the real joy of bouncing and doing acrobatic jumps, from £10 per person per hour. They also organise dodgeball nights, fitness classes, and student nights.

Book your jump here.

Trampolining 2


2. Night at the Museum!

Taking kids to the museum can be a real challenge for parents. Getting them to bed can be too.  So why not kill two birds with one stone and explore the Natural History Museum at night?

The museum now offers various activities. They organise sleep-overs for kids and adults and give you the opportunity to experience a real-life crime scene investigation.

It isn’t cheap – The price is between £54 and £180 per activity – but it’s worth it, you can book from the official platform here.




3. Flower Power!

Did you miss the Chelsea Flower Show this year and feel terrible about it ?

Well there are hidden gems around London, such as, Crystal Palace. This wonderful park offers an incredible flower show, perfect for the Instagrammers that we are. It is also perfectly adapted for kids with a dinosaur exhibition, manor farm, maze and a large playground.

They are also hosting the free Crystal Palace Overground Festival from June 12-18th and enjoy family activities. The program features concerts, a DJ workshop, yoga classes, museum visits, family ideas fair, a petting zoo, dance meet, food market a garden party and even more!

Book your weekend outing here.


4. Welcome to Neverland!

Bored of Southbank beach and want to try something new for this summer ?

Located in Fulham, Neverland is the first Thameside beach. Opening on June 7, Neverland is the place to go this summer: for £10 you can rent a cosy beach hut and be the first to enjoy some music and a few drinks with your toes in the sand! 

Book now for your perfect sunset.


By Lisa Saroufim.

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We found ice in London

The summer’s starting to flex its muscles here in London. As the thermometer creeps up, we still find ourselves in the office and desperate for some cooling-off time. Funnily enough, the capital has a number of places filled with cool, refreshing, icy activities. Ice walls, rinks, bars: they’re all there, including some of the best gelato you will find this side of Italy. 

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 1. Hokusai Exhibition : beyond the great wave !

I personally can’t wait to see the world’s most famous wave in London.

Painted by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai who lived during the 19th century, The Wave is one of the world’s most recognized masterpieces.

Come visit the exhibition and follow the artist’s journey through his last 30 years.

From Saturday 25 May 2017 at The British Museum



 2. Chelsea Flower Show

Not a Gardener ?

Nevermind, me neither! But it won’t stop me going for a walk in the park while admiring the flower arrangements.

Take the opportunity to enjoy a sunny afternoon with your all family outside – you might even get inspired to give your garden a makeover.

From Tuesday 23 May 2017 to Saturday 27



3. British Summer Time Festival

Did you miss Green Day ?

Well, you will be glad to know that they are back in London for this summer. See your favorite bands in the city centre at Hyde Park this July.

Also featured : Phil Collins, Justin Bieber, Kings of the Leon

On Saturday 1st July 2017 at Hyde Park




4. Wimbledon

We all love Tennis and I personally want to live the experience up close:

That’s why I will get tickets! Join us at Wimbledon and see your favorite players in action. If you are lucky, you may even catch a sweaty t-shirt at the end of the game !

From 3 to 17 July 2017 at Wimbledon


5. The Pride Parade

Ready to join the 33rd edition of the Pride Parade? 

Come enjoy the people and the music across London and show the world your support for the people who want to live their life fully!

On Saturday 8 July 2017 in central London






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Are you looking for a smooth moving in to a new home?

We know how peace of mind is important when it comes to moving (unless you’re after an adventure) – if you’re looking for a professional, reputable and efficient company, then here’s your stop at Kiwi Movers.

Kiwi Movers in a nutshell:

  • ♦ They’ve been moving stuff without fuss since 2007
  • ♦ Their professional movers are fully insured
  • ♦ You can find a wide range of handy Kiwi Movers services that you can explore here.

How this works?

They will guide you through the whole moving process. And if you have any specific requirements, their experienced and friendly team will be more than happy to tailor the service to your requirements. Just ask and they will provide you with the best customer service.

You can also find a lot of very useful tips on moving homes on their website. Be it organising your moving or finding a storage and you want it to be hassle-free, just give them a ring, and they will be happy to assist you. 

And if you’re still not convinced – read the review below from a happy Kiwi’s customer:

“Picture the scene: it’s 8:30, you awake, have a nice breakfast in your normal non-packed house, then a team of packers turn up and you go out for lunch (your only getting in the way so no need to hang around), you go for a nice relaxing walk afterwards and return at 3pm, it’s done, whole house packed and in the back of a lorry.

This is an exact description of how my last move, 6mths ago, went. My wife had a hard time persuading me it was worth it but I’m glad she did, I’m never packing myself again.”

Happy moving!

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Anyone fancy a bit of madness?

We show you some of the capital’s biggest events of the summer, but also the more unusual and quirky festivals.

The British have a strange concept of ‘enjoyment’ when it comes to the summer. Festivals see thousands descend upon various fields around the UK where, under a comforting blanket of cloud and refreshing showers of lukewarm rain, they enjoy some of the world’s best music. It suits some.

And London is no different, thankfully. This summer, we’ll witness an enormous variety of music, books, art and general “we’ve got some pretty great culture”ness.


The BBC Proms

The world’s greatest classical music festival returns to the Royal Albert Hall for another season of grand and absorbing compositional wonder. There’s the usual selection of crowd-pleasers such as Beethoven (symphonies 5 and 9) and Bach (the Well-Tempered Clavier), but this year has a particular Russian focus as part of a broader cultural recognition of the anniversary of 1917, with all four of Rachmaninov’s piano concertos. An institution in itself, this is one not to miss whether you’re a seasoned prommer or listening for the first time. The Proms run throughout summer, with standing tickets always available on the door.


London Design Festival

The artiest festival taking place this summer sees the capital transformed for over a week of art, design, and creativity throughout London. Big-hitting institutions such as the V&A are involved in the London Design Festival with a range of exhibits, alongside showcases of the work of new and upcoming designers such as O&A Design, based in Chancery Lane. Individual artists are also featured, such as David Elia, a Brazilian-based designer presenting how cultural fusion has inspired his sumptuous furniture.


East End Film Festival

For something more quirky, you can find everything film-related (and we do mean everything) in east London this summer. Premieres, pop-up screenings, interactive exhibits and masterclasses, it’s not hard to see why the East End Film Festival is now one of the UK’s largest film festivals. In particular, the organisers have framed the event to focus on first- and second-time directors, so there will be a lot of new (and experimental) features being shown – all the more reason to see the future hits, before anyone else.


We are FSTVL

Now in its fourth year, We A FSTVL is a recent addition to the UK scene but continues to go from strength to strength. The Upminster -based electronic dance festival will provide an exhilarating start to the summer, taking place over the May bank holiday weekend (27-28th May). This year they’ve even bringing in camping to add more of a ‘real’ festival vibe you can reach by tube.

Line-up includes: Dizzee Rascal, De La Swing, Basement Jaxx, Duke Dumont

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Top 5 things to know if you’re French in London

Visiting a city for the first time (or the tenth!) can be a challenge. For somewhere as vast and diverse as London, we’ve found it can be particularly daunting.

Lisa, our new (French) intern, describes her week in the (British) capital, with some sage advice for French visitors – whether tourist or expat.


1. French people are everywhere

Top 5 things to know if you're French in LondonTop 5 things to know if you're French in London

Every time you take the bus, especially in Kensington, you can hear un petit je ne sais quoi in French. They’re usually complaining about anything, from weather to high prices, or even just claiming there are French people everywhere complaining all the time!



2. What to do during your stay

Because you can’t always plan your stay, some days you won’t know what to do when in London. My advice is go for the classics: Big Ben, the London Eye, the museums, palaces etc. Visit them all if you wish; they’re inspiring places!

I personally went to the British Museum for the first time this week. I took the bus to enjoy the view, and when I finally crossed the black gates I thought it will definitely become a new rendez-vous. And if you ever miss Paris’s Métro, just go to see the Rosetta Stone, where you can enjoy the oppressive proximity with strangers and be dazzled by tourists’ cameras.

Top 5 things to know if you're French in London


3. The bus stations are hard to find

Top 5 things to know if you're French in London


What’s wrong with the bus sign?

Is it some sort of treasure hunt? If so, please send me an invitation ASAP! Because every time I need to travel by bus, it takes me almost the same amount of time to find the right station as to make the journey. I mean, whose idea was it to give bus stations names and letters as well? Like it wasn’t complicated enough! For example, you will never find the direction of the station on the return journey.

The best app: City Mapper



4. Shopping on Sunday is now possible

If you need to do some grocery shopping, I recommend Sainsbury. It’s not that expensive, you can always enjoy some discounts and, more important, it closes at 11pm during the week and at 7pm on a Sunday.

All shops are, in fact, opened on Sundays. I suggest you visit Oxford Street to enjoy the shops and cafés.

Top 5 things to know if you're French in London


5. British people are helpful

Top 5 things to know if you're French in LondonAs I am writing this diary, I realise that I may have a bad sense of direction. If, like me, arriving in a new city is a bit disorienting, you can always ask and trust Londoners.

I asked a few people my direction this week, and every time people would help me with their phone. So to all those who stop and will continue to stop to help visitors: Merci!


Lisa, UnderTheDoormat intern.

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Don’t avoid the rush: finding your adrenaline in London

The rush, the heightened senses, the feeling of being on top of the world, shouting “let’s go again!”, accomplishment, bravura. Or maybe staring up with fear, wondering how quickly you can leave, what a terrible mistake you’ve made, why am I here, somebody else can go first, agreeing to do it in the first place was really the hardest battle and I’ve already done that, right?

There are two main camps when it comes to adrenaline-fuelled activities. But whether you’re a commited thrill-seeker or enjoy having your feet firmly planted on the ground, London has its fair share of places to find the ultimate rush. It’s worth giving it a go.


The Independent

There are growing number of ways to descend from some spectacular height in London, perhaps unsurprising given the rate at which tall buildings are being thrown up in the capital. While not the most appropriate for those with a fear of heights, they provide an opportunity for some spectacular views across the capital. At 262 feet above the ground, you can take in the Olympic Park and London skyline from the iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit in Stratford, Britain’s highest freefall, or be in the heart of the City amid some of London’s tallest buildings with a descent of Broadgate Tower, which holds regular abseils for a range of charities.



For those rising stars who prefer an ascent, there are also plenty of opportunities to climb upwards. Climbing walls can be found across London, with the Arch Climbing Wall at a former biscuit factory in Bermondsey a particularly scenic choice. The Westway Centre in Shepherd’s Bush has also long been a favourite of climbers, welcoming anyone from beginners to the complete adrenaline junkies looking to clamber up their more challenging courses.



Rather than scaling rocky cliff-faces, a more rounded experience can be found in Greenwich on the world-famous O2 Arena. At a height of 53m you can now scale the dome, with stunning 360-degree views across London and the South-East. Up at the O2 is ideal for a group or those not after something quite so intense.



If you’re in search of something high-octane, British roads – while they can be beautiful – don’t exactly allow for speed. The water, however, is a different matter. Powerboating on the Thames is the surest way of reaching some pretty high figures, all in site of some of London’s greatest landmarks in an hour and a quarter of water-time. And on a summer’s day, you might even welcome getting that splash in the face.

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How to manage the growth of Airbnb and short-lets effectively

The growth of Airbnb and similar short-let websites over the past five years has raised a number of new issues for residential building managers.

It may be tempting to try to stop short-term lettings entirely but this is unlikely to solve the issue. An outright ban could lead t
o residents letting their homes out under the radar, which would increase the risks of something going wrong – and make it even harder to manage issues if they do.

Furthermore, unless the lease explicitly forbids short-lets many homeowners will feel that it’s within their right to let their home for short periods, so trying to enforce a ban through the lease could be very challenging.

A better route would be to find a way to manage short-term lets in your buildings in a way that protects homeowners and guests as well as other residents, building managers and owners.

As the number of home-stays has grown over the last few years, the industry and government regulations have both matured to help manage short-lets properly. Here are three key steps you can take to ensure short-lets in your buildings are managed effectively.

Step 1: Make use of the law to help enforce

Part of the concern about short-term lets is that some people might be letting their home on Airbnb all year round.

Thankfully, there is a law in place to help deal with the situation: the 90 day rule. This says that a resident is allowed to let their home out for up to 90 days without asking for permission from their council. The rule is designed to enable people to earn some bonus income from an empty home when they’re away while stopping people from using short-lets all-year-round which could price local residents out of the market.

Using the 90 day rule as the basis for short-term lets in your building would help balance the desires of residents, some of whom want to make use of their homes when they’re away and others who object to any short-letting.

It would also put you on a much stronger legal footing as you are enforcing reasonable use with a law which is explicit rather than a lease which may not be.

Step 2: Put in place clear policies to govern the practice

High-profile “Airbnb disasters” are actually rare occurrences and they usually result from a homeowner not managing a short-let properly. There are number of ways to reduce the risks through good practices.

One major element is verifying that the guests are the same people who made the booking. Professional companies managing short-lets will ask guests to submit ID in advance & then check it again on arrival to ensure they’re the same people.

Homeowners or companies should also provide the names of all guests to a building manager or porter on request. This will help ensure only verified people are in the building & provide information in case of emergency such as a fire.

Finally, the homeowner should ensure they have 24/7 on-call service for each stay. Too many homeowners disappear – sometimes abroad – when they let their home out. With 24/7 on-call service, preferably provided by a professional company, any guest issues can be handled by the people letting out the home and won’t fall to the building management.


Step 3: Make sure you’re covered

Most mainstream websites require a security deposit from guests but though some take £500 or more others require much less.

That’s why it’s important is to ensure there is proper insurance in place throughout the guest stay. Most homeowners are unaware that their insurance doesn’t cover a short-let so if something breaks as a result of a guest, the homeowner is liable for the bill. Similarly, if there is damage to a common area it might not be covered. 

The safest option is to require homeowners to work with a company that has full, direct insurance to ensure that homeowners, guests and the building are all covered for any actions of the guests.


Most homeowners who let their homes just want to earn some bonus income when they’re away and don’t want to cause any issues for their neighbours or building managers. Similarly, guests who stay in people’s homes simply want to stay in a nice home and experience the local area.

As the industry grows it’s important to manage stays correctly so homeowners, guests & local areas can make the most of the positives while ensuring that neighbours & managers can still enjoy a peaceful life. With the right policies and a balanced approach, that’s possible.


Published in the newsletter of the Association Of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA)

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