QUESTION: My husband and I and our three children are planning a 10-day stay in London. We are a looking for accommodations in or near central London that will not require us to take two hotel rooms. What are the options?
ANSWER: There are a number of agencies that represent apartments in London. Most two-bedroom apartments have a sofa bed in the living room and can accommodate the five of you, though there may be a $10 or $15 daily charge for the fifth person. Here are some companies representing London rentals.
Hometours International (1170 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10001; 800-367-4668 or 212-689-0851) says it represents more than 370 apartments in London. A two-bedroom unit in Hyde Park is about $1,200 a week in low season and $1,500 in high season.
In Kensington, a three-bedroom, with two bathrooms starts at about $1,800 in low season and is about $2,800 in high season). In Mayfair, two-bedroom units are $1,500 or $1,600 a week in low season and $2,400 or $2,500 in high season and three-bedroom apartments are about $2,000 a week in low season and $2,800 or $2,900 in high season.
Villas International (71 West 23d Street, New York, N.Y. 10010; 212-929-7585 or 800-221-2260) says it represents 500 or 600 apartments in London. A two-bedroom, two-bath apartment near Sloane Square starts at about $1,175 a week in low season and $1,450 in high season. An apartment in the Pimlico area with three bedrooms and one bath is $1,290 a week in low season and $1,490 in high season.
London Apartments Ltd., (51 Kensington Court, London W8 5DB, England; telephone in London, 937 4248) offers about 300 apartments, most in the center of London, from Kensington in the west and about as far east as Bloomsbury.
The least expensive two-bedroom apartments start at about $1,200 in low season and about $1,300 in high season and the more luxuurious places in the best areas start at about $2,100 a week.
Three-bedroom apartments start at about $2,400 in low season and go up to around $3,000 in high season. The company has two representatives in the United States: Post Office Box 810216, Dallas, Tex. 75381; 800-327-1849 or 214-243-6748, and 5 Hidden Valley Road, Lafayette, Calif. 94549; 800-366-8748.
In the English Manner (Post Office Box 936, Alamo, Calif. 94507; 800-422-0799 or 415-935-7065) rents vacation flats in center of London and arranges home stays throughout the rest of Britain. The company has a three-bedroom house in Bayswater with two baths, for $1,590 a week. A three-bedroom, two-bath flat is $1,700.
The British Tourist Authority has a 76-page booklet, " Apartments in London 1990-91," that lists agencies through which apartments can be rented and buildings that specialize in short-term rentals. The booklet may be picked up free at the authority's office (40 West 57th Street, New York, N.Y. 10019); mail requests should include a self-addressed envelope with 85 cents postage.
QUESTION: Are there any cooking schools in Florence?
ANSWER: Here are two schools in Florence. Giuliano Bugialli's Cooking in Florence offers weeklong courses May through October plus a course Christmas week. The course includes half-day classes, eating the meals prepared and tasting wines, restaurant dinners and tours of vineyards and markets and full day and half day of sightseeing.
The cost is $3,000 a person, which includes hotel, classes, most meals but not air fare. For companions who take part in all activities except the classes the cost is $2,300. For information in the United States, write to Post Office Box 1650, Canal Street Station, New York, N.Y. 10013 or call 212-966-5325.
Italian Cuisine in Florence (1 Via Trieste, Florence 50139, Italy; 480041) offers half-day classes year round in the apartment of the teacher, Masha Innocenti. There is a five-day Gourmet I course; Gourmet II, emphasizing more sophisticated cuisine; a four-day Italian Pastry and Dessert course, and a four-day course that combines elements of all three.
The cost is about $850 for Gourmet I, $890 for Gourmet II and the combination week and $650 for the dessert course. The U.S. representative for the school is William Grossi, R.D.1, Ancramdale, N.Y. 12503; 518-329-1141.