HEAD for the city for a summer short break - with a stylish apartment as a family base instead of checking into hotels which can dictate the daily routine and set limits on mealtimes.

According to the trade journal Travel Weekly, self-serviced apartments in city centres designed for business customers are something of a hit with family travellers too - because they are more relaxing for children and make it easier to enjoy a 24-hour urban lifestyle.

The best apartments offer a more gracious lifestyle than hotel rooms, perhaps with separate areas to entertain friends and family who live nearby. And the interior decor mirrors the elegance and style of trendy city centre flats.

The latest apartment project to hit London is base2stay, a 67-room hotel concept in lavishly converted terraced buildings off the Cromwell Road, a few yards from Gloucester Road tube which offers easy West End access.

It took two years, and the best part of £15 million to create base2stay which could accommodate a family of four in air-conditioned comfort for £175 per night.

In central London, a wide choice of self-catering options is opening up in some of the best addresses: The Athenaeum Hotel has 30 apartments next door on Piccadilly which offer weekend Royal

You can check into an apartment at 51 Buckingham Gate for a stonking £335 per night - which doesn't, alas, include a personal footman from nearby Buckingham Palace.

Kensington Court serviced apartments, a three minute walk from Kensington High Street, has studios sleeping two from £120 per night, and east of the City, executive apartments at London Marriott West India Quay Hotel in the heart of Docklands, are round the corner from Canary Wharf - with room to entertain, and a chance to enjoy stunning views across a fast-reviving corner of the capital.