Between lockdowns, Globetrender checks into 5 Maddox St to investigate how ‘Covid-secure’ a stay in a five-star serviced apartment is. Jenny Southan reports
Like many people, I have been cautious about staying in hotels during the pandemic because of the risk of catching Covid, either from staff or other guests, or from improperly clean interiors. The idea of a stay at a 5 Maddox St serviced apartment seemed attractive because it required no interaction with other people (you let yourself into the building with an entry code) and it promised a raft of cleaning measures that you might not be guaranteed at an average Airbnb.
5 Maddox St is located just off Regent Street in central London, with its 12 apartments located in a discreet residential building behind a non-descript door. I don’t even remember seeing a sign. Check-in is officially from 2pm, while check-out is at 11am, although there is a degree of flexibility if you ask in advance. There is no staffed reception.
I was checking in with my partner and our two-year-old daughter. An immediate problem was that there was no lift, which meant we had to haul our bags up eight flights of stairs to level four, while leaving our pushchair in the narrow lobby. The fact that there is no lift would be a problem for anyone who difficulty climbing a lot of stairs of had heavy luggage so arrange to stay on a lower floor if this is the case.
My confidence was also lessened by the fact that there was a communal bottle of hand sanitiser in reception that smelt exactly like tequila. I wondered if it was a homemade batch made from some leftover Jose Cuervo. For a five-star apartment I would have liked to see a selection of high-quality branded hand sanitisers, disposable gloves and anti-bacterial wet wipes for guests help themselves to as they enter and exit.
The next hurdle was accessing the apartment itself. We couldn’t retrieve the key from the lockbox outside the door so called the number we were given for the general manager but there was no answer. After persevering for a few more minutes, we finally managed to open the box and get the key to let ourselves in.
The interiors have been revamped relatively recently (they all look very contemporary, if a little bland – there were no plants or flowers in our bedroom as in the picture above) and measure from 27 sqm to 79 sqm for a three-bedroom abode. We were staying in a 28 sqm Superior apartment with a small balcony at the back. (Some come with outdoor decks, which would be worth paying extra for.)
I wasn’t comfortable with the thick shaggy rug on the floor, which didn’t look like it could be cleaned easily so I moved that out of the way. I also moved the glass coffee table as it was a hazard for a toddler. There was a workdesk but facing a wall, which didn’t feel very inviting for sitting at for days on end. (Facing a window is always preferable.)
All units come with their own kitchen, which is a distinct benefit of choosing an apartment over a hotel room during the pandemic. (Preparing your own food feels more hygienic and also saves money.) We also had a small walk-in toilet, a spacious bedroom with an armchair and a small bathroom with a combined tub/shower.
I was perturbed to find there was no handwash in the kitchen, and only one bin bag – it would make sense to provide a whole roll as we needed more than one for nappies/takeaway waste etc. These kinds of things really should come as standard. I’d also have been pleased to find a big pack of anti-bac surface wipes to whizz around anything extra I wanted to clean.
On the plus side, there was a generous welcome pack of food and drink. Standard items are wine, organic coffee and teas, milk, bread and preserves but we also had some chocolate, crisps and biscuits. (Products were from M&S so were very good quality.)
We were only staying for one night so didn’t need to do any grocery shopping but for those who do, there is a great Wholefoods Market less than ten-minutes’ walk away.
The great thing about being located in central London is there is a huge choice of restaurants to order takeaway food from. We ordered a fine-dining Indian takeaway from Jamavar via Deliveroo. All I had to do was run downstairs to get it. (This is an example of one of the kitchens in the larger apartments.)
Overall the apartment did look clean and I had been informed in advance that “the cleaning and hygiene protocols at 5 Maddox St were reviewed and adapted to the current situation and we have intensified our cleaning efforts on disinfecting, including the disinfecting of all surfaces in apartments, rooms and public and front of house areas”.
I was also told: “In all spaces we have implemented the use of SOH Pure Ariel Sanitiser, a one-of-a-kind aerial sanitation solution for indoor spaces, a safe and effective system that completely eradicates airborne germs.”
They added: “We are confident that our cleaning and sanitising regime is of the highest possible standard, however, we would of course be happy to work individual guests’ needs should they prefer certain extras removed from the apartment.”
Personally, I would have liked to see a printed out list of all the extra cleaning measures that had apparently taken place and would have been reassured to see TV remotes and other high-touch communal items in sealed plastic bags to show they had been cleaned between stays. I also wondered about the refillable Ren shampoo bottles – great for reducing plastic waste but are they Covid-secure?
5 Maddox St is in a great location and offers spacious, modern apartments that require no interaction with other human beings to gain entry to. Hygiene measures could have been improved, though, even if only to enhance guests’ confidence in how clean the place actually was. People need to know that absolutely everything has been sanitised. Germaphobia is real.
5 Maddox St is available for nightly, weekly and monthly stays. Rates start from £220 per night.
Alongside 5 Maddox St, the Living Rooms collection also comprises of Europa House in Little Venice, 56 Welbeck Street in Marylebone, the Laslett in Notting Hill and their latest edition, Weymouth Mews, in Marylebone.