Our Story & Our Service
I founded Ivy in 2009 following a brief career as a finance lawyer here in London. My first child had just been born and my young family wanted to spend some time abroad, hoping to finance the trip with income from our apartment in West London. Since we’d be abroad, we wanted someone to handle the whole process for us, but we were unable to find anyone we felt happy entrusting our home to. Eventually we found a tenant through a traditional high street agent, but the let didn’t go brilliantly, essentially because high street agents don’t really focus on short lets and we didn’t feel the let was managed as well as it might have been. I imagine the tenant who stayed in our flat felt the same.
So when we were abroad, I thought about setting up the kind of company that I would want to deal with, both as a homeowner and as a renter. Back in London a few weeks later, I got to work and founded Ivy with the clear view that it would be a professional, friendly, highly competent, practical service to clients on both sides.
For the first 6 months it was just me (supported by my brilliant wife!) working out of our spare room. I bought a Vespa on eBay, and with bundles of linen bungy-tied to the back, I’d dart around London making up the beds before checking in guests. There were a couple of low points: a few days before Christmas 2009, a particularly heavy bundle of linen flew off the Vespa as I skidded round Hyde Park corner in the snow, and when I collided with a van and flew over the handle bars. I was black and blue for a few days and very stiff, but the van’s insurers paid me £1000 in compensation which was welcome investment in the business! To start with, we had about 12 properties, but word of our service spread and with some great press coverage, our portfolio grew, and in March 2010 I took on my first employee and rented some office space.
Today we have a portfolio of over 100 properties and I’m proud that many of their owners have been with us since our first year of trading. They are loyal clients for whom I’d do pretty much anything, because they helped grow my business steadily through strong word of mouth. To date we have accommodated over 50,000 guests. I’m thrilled with this figure but what makes me really happy is when I read our guests’ feedback and so many tell me that this is their 15th or 20th time they’ve booked with us.
We want to grow still, but our mission isn’t to be London’s largest operator in the field of vacation rentals and short stays. It is to be its best. To our hosts, we aim to achieve the occupancy levels they want, whilst ensuring their homes are looked after very carefully. To our guests, we want to provide a consistently seamless and enjoyable booking experience and stay, every single time.
Every year we improve every aspect of the business, from our website to our booking enquiry responses, from the occupancy rates of our homes to the quality of our bed linen, from our housekeeping reporting systems to guest check in logistics. These are all important aspects which improve our clients’ stays each time, but the main reason that our hosts and guests use Ivy is because they know they will receive a personal, wonderful service. We take pride in the constant feedback we receive telling us how we’re a joy to deal with: friendly and responsive, reliable, attentive and caring. Please feel free to explore these for yourself (for Host reviews and feedback, please visit our Hosts section). I hope we can serve you too and leave you similarly impressed!
Guy van der Westhuizen
Founder & Managing Director