As the cost of city living continues to rise, Alison Jones looks at an alternative that offers much of the convenience with much less of the cash
The prospect of a nightly commute and being trapped for hours by road works must make some city workers wonder whether sleeping at their desks might be more practical.
While they might not resort to such measures, there are a growing number choosing to spend the week living where they work.
Rather than impersonal and expensive hotels, they are staying in serviced apart-ments, offering short term rental flexibility with the comforts of home.
A familiar concept in London, they have only been available in Birmingham for three to four years.
Giles Horwitch-Smith is the CEO of LMM (lmm.co.uk), Birmingham's biggest provider of serviced apartments. The company has seen demand increase by 70 per cent in a year, with a 37 per cent increase in those rented from Monday to Thursday.
"You have all the facilities of a flat, a living room bedroom, separate bathroom, kitchen but you can take them for a night, a week or a month," says Giles. "They suit people who like their independence. Someone will come in to clean them and change the linens. Clients can also get their washing done, so they just take a day bag with them at weekends."
A furnished one-bed apartment is around £65 a night, which compares favourably with a city centre hotel room.
"You don't have the same operating costs with serviced apartments because you don't have to supply a restaurant or bar," says Giles.
"If you were to rent a normal one bedroomed apartment in the area it would probably cost around £650 a month. But you would have to take it for six months and you would have to pay council tax and all your bills on top, so you are looking at another £400, then there is a cleaner on top of that. It quickly stacks up."
LMM have got around 100 serviced apartments in Birmingham, about half the total number in the city centre.
"They are in three blocks, that is the critical mass in order to be able to do them well and professionally," says Giles.
Their growing popularity is, he believes, down to convenience and quality of life, for people who work in Birmingham but prefer to live out in more rural areas.
"There are people who spend the best part of the morning before work and the evening commuting. They come home tired. They've missed the kids, who have gone to bed.
"This alternative suits people who buy into the lifestyle of work hard, play hard during the week, then they can give more time to the family at weekends. It gets rid of the daily grind of travel."
Birmingham nightlife also benefits from the increase in "weekday singletons".
"Thursdays are the big night out these days," says Giles "On Fridays they go home to their families, or their families come to visit them and have a weekend in Birmingham."