Kith & Kine is a pretty cool two-bedroom flat between Shoreditch and Islington, just east of central London. It’s a great intersection for discovering the city and its very particular local life. On one side of the skyline, there are banks and towers; on the other, old commercial and industrial buildings. Between the two, one of London’s oldest cemeteries, not far from the huge Brutalist complex of the Barbican. It’s a crazy mix of style and architecture. And it’s here that an Irishman from Dublin — Enda Guinan — decided to share, through a little house, his love story with the heart of the English capital.
Why did you decide to have a vacation rental in London?
Enda Guinan: “I’m originally from Ireland where I worked in an education center of technology, and I moved to London ten years ago. Here, I met my English companion, and I decided to have a vacation rental. The first one was in my own loft near Shoreditch. My friend and I used to rent out a simple room, but our first experience was very interesting. Those first clients — two girls from Germany — could have stayed in a nice hotel but they chose to give me money, to trust me, even though they did not know me. They were taking a risk!
“So I said to myself: my house and my welcome must be perfect! We were able to share something of local London with these people. The flavor of the locality. We are proud of our borough. At the same time, sharing our loft with foreigners from all around the world is a way to learn about people and about their ways of life. I also remember this older couple from Texas. They came three nights after a cruise. They gave us a lot of pleasure in terms of experience of life and transmission. You don’t meet so many older people when you are young in the center of London. They bring something with them and they share it. It’s like a gift. This is why I decided to create a new property especially for rental, Kith & Kine. It’s a tiny house in the same borough. It took me a year of work to restore it.”
Kith & Kine is a funny place, isn’t it?
EG: “It was a very dark and damp place. I wanted something distinctive to give the visitor a special feeling. Something universal which, at the same time, doesn’t exist in a hotel: the humor. This place has to make you smile. There must be a little joke in every detail. A little delight… I like comics and British music, and that’s why vinyl and cartoons are part of the decoration.”
Why its unusual name: Kith & Kine?
EG: “‘Kith & Kine’ is an old English phrase meaning literally ‘friends and property’. The word ‘kine’ is an old legal word that meant ‘cattle’. I wanted to give the apartment an identity which connected our welcome guests (our ‘kith’) with something local and historical. When I discovered that in olden days, farmers would take their livestock along nearby City Road to markets in central London, the ‘kine’ element made sense. Guests will notice a few cows share the property with them when they stay — truly uniting our kith and kine!”
Would you say you’re a professional in this business now?
EG: “Of course not, I’m a digital communications manager for a cancer charity, Sarcoma UK, but after ten years in the business I can say that it’s more a hobby for me. It’s still a pleasant occupation.”
What does luxury mean for you?
EG: “Luxury is too serious, I think. Sense of humor is a much more important value for me. People are on holiday here; they need colors, they need surprises. They need something funny created exclusively for our special place. This is luxury today!”
According to you, what makes guests from BH different?
EG: “When they like the look of the property on the website, they start a true conversation with us. I like that. They are not here to find the cheapest place to rent. They are curious, interested in local restaurants and places, they have a high standard of life, they are particular and precise but not too much. I mean they are not looking for problems. They are cool because they know what they want and so they know what they choose on BH.”