What is it? Being, as you are, a "normal person" (I'm… assuming?) it has possibly escaped your attention that there is a sub-category of London rental properties that are essentially "university halls, but for rich adults", and if this is new information to you, then: good. But essentially the set-up is this: new-build hotel-like complexes, neatly fitted out with on-trend fixtures and fittings and a European minimum spec floorplan, where renters can enjoy medium-to-mild privacy in their small one-bed bunks and then go downstairs to either the large lobby-style shared lounge area, with lots of £900 green velvet sofas and coffee pods, or one of the "fun" scheduled weekly film screenings, or possibly there is an indoor gym, and 500+ other 27-year-olds who refuse to grow up, and there is definitely a bench-and-exposed-bulb work area, and it's in, like, Acton. The profile of everyone who rents at these places is "their profile picture is them at a wedding posing with a moustache on a stick". You know the type, don't you? You know what I am talking about. Anyway, this is sort of one of those.
Where is it? Marylebone by way of Baker Street, so it’s good if you want to go to the Sherlock Holmes Museum every single day of your life, and less-than-ideal for literally anything else.
What is there to do locally? I always wonder what people who live in central London actually, like, do. You know what I mean? You have your nice life, don’t you, away a little from the hubbub: you have a brunch spot within walking distance, you have a non-distressing amount of traffic running outside, there might be small patches of green near you. You know when you need to do a shop – little shop, for bits – you can do that, because of the supermarket and metro-marts near your home. But if you live in central London, all that’s there is a load of gridlocked buses and a thousand concurrent branches of Pret. So what the fuck.
Alright, how much are they asking? I can scarcely believe I am typing this figure – I thought it would be 10+ years of inflation before I would get to say this, minimum – but: they are asking for £1,894 per month. Per month.
Right, correct me if I’m wrong. Correct me! If I’m wrong! But there’s no visible bed in here, and you sort of need a bed to sleep. Don’t you? What do you sleep on? A bed, normally. You can maybe do one night every six months on a sofa, if you’re drunk. You can maybe put a load of pillows and cushions down on the floor and sort of curl up on that like a little den. There’s Always Some Mad Lad Who’s Slightly Too Into Army Who Sleeps On A Camp Bed. But, broadly, you sleep on a bed. So where the fuck’s the bed.
The bed is there, only hidden: it’s in that wall-mounted cupboard thing with books on it, and it folds down to where the sofa is. I don’t know how long to dwell on this: the fold-out bed is not the first we have seen on this column, and it won’t be the last, and there’s not something tangibly wrong with a fold-out bed – a bed’s a bed, even if it’s a mildly inconvenient one! – but I do sort of think it’s weird that possibly the most primary use for a flat or rented room (i.e. to sleep there, under shelter) is sort of relegated to an afterthought here, as if having to cram a bed (an entire bed) into a room is a little too difficult, a little too unaesthetic. Hey: maybe I am just precious about beds! But I like to sleep in them! That’s just me!
Also, I have to tell you the placement of this sofa is causing me far too much anxiety for a Monday: you have to move the sofa, bodily, every time you want to go to sleep, which is Problem #1. But Problem #2 is this: look at where the TV is mounted (rigidly to a wall). Look at where the sofa is placed (about a foot away from a window). To look at the TV, from the sofa, you have to sort of… lean off it. And if you want to watch TV from bed you have to crane your entire head and neck round monstrously to get some sort of angle on it, and that’s after spending so much energy you start sweating and knocking three books off the shelves just to fold it out. Does the TV fold out from the wall? It is possible the TV folds out from the wall. I will admit that. But to that I say: imagine paying 22k per annum to have to fold and unfold your TV and bed every time you want to use them. “Ah, yes, here’s an entire graduate job salary – do you mind moving the sofa out of my corridor-flat so I can sleep in it? Cheers." No, thank you. Not for me.
This flat is ostensibly marketed to international students, so it's shooting for the premium end of the rental market (from the listing: "This is a quiet, safe and secure environment where we have a mix of professional tenants and overseas students from a variety of different countries"), which I find a little murky in itself – international students are seen as easy marks to the London property market, which tends to view them as slightly baffled hypebeasts being bankrolled by a distant, billionaire father, and crams them either 18-at-a-time into some weird gigantic house-share out by Ruislip, or puts them up in these very clean, very neat, very nice rooms that cost more than a three-bed anywhere else – and that, I suppose, is why this listing is set out like a weird Instagram shoot taken by someone who has never lived in a flat before, ever.
Look, you can… invite someone back here for two cups of coffee from your French press. Take Polaroids of them. Laugh together at the TV if you get a good angle on it from the kitchen workbench. Wonder about where you might wash your clothes, or indeed store them! Perhaps you could offer them one of your magazines from your basket of magazines. Play with the double blinds on offer! Marvel at the clock on the wall. Ask where the bathroom is, because there isn’t one visible at all! And then, when the time comes – after the tentative dance of foreplay has finished its final toe-tap – you, together, ease a sofa to one side, creak your bed down from the wall and gloriously rut atop it. For £1,894 a month.
I know the overarching theme of these columns is "London is a bit broken, isn’t it?" so it sort of goes without saying at this point, but: London is a bit broken, isn’t it?