If the sight of that huge ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal got you wondering about the fate of those massive containers on the back of the Ever Given, you’re not alone. 

We often get asked about “intermodal containers”, more commonly known as shipping containers, and it’s surprising how often they appear on shore. From pop-up bakeries, to bars, cafés and restaurants, there’s hundreds of uses for them these days, where once upon a time they were mainly used for storing belongings. 

Indeed, one of the most common questions we get asked by potential customers is “What is the difference between self-storage and container storage?”

It’s still the case that shipping containers are used in certain locations, so let’s explore how they differ from self-storage when it comes to looking after your stuff.

Secure Self Storage London


A self-storage store has been specifically fitted out to provide flexible, secure storage for your personal or business things.

They are usually located in easily accessible places, like the Metro Storage spaces in Islington and Bayswater, so you don’t have to travel far to get to your belongings.

Self-storage stores have many different sizes of rooms so you can find the right size unit to suit your needs; nobody likes paying for stuff (or in this case ‘space’) you don’t need.

You should also be able to upgrade or downsize your storage unit easily as and when your needs change, which can be surprisingly often if you’re renting out somewhere for the long term.

Security is paramount and the building should always have intruder alarms; smoke detection alarms; security patrols; unique PIN code access; individual rooms with their own doors and padlocks, and digital CCTV.

One of the key benefits to self-storage is your things are stored inside, which isn’t the case with shipping containers as they are left outside. At Metro Storage we believe in ensuring the environment for storage is as secure as possible.

Another aspect of self-storage that differ from containers is the availability of loading aids readily available (such as trollies and pallet trucks). 

Insurance is included in the price at Metro Storage (it’s not always priced in with some companies, so be sure to ask up front), and opening hours are flexible to make it as easy as possible for you to access your stuff whenever you need.  


Container Storage

Container storage appeared around the 1950s as a cheap and cheerful way for people to temporarily hold things they couldn’t keep elsewhere. They were quite literally a load of large old shipping units that would be kept on a rough patch of ground, usually around city limits. It was the very cheapest storage available, for good reason.

Things have moved on and there are definitely some shipping container storage spaces that are much more advanced than others these days, but the fundamentals haven’t altered that much. 

Your stuff will still be exposed to the elements when loading and unloading, which in the winter months often means cold weather, wind, rain, snow, that kind of thing. This may also be an issue when you want to visit your stuff. Lighting can also be an issue during long winter months, and so you may want to consider the security of the units.

The site you choose will also have rules on when you are allowed to come and go. Given shipping containers are often the cheapest option, there may be limits on appointments, and you may have to book in advance, which will also limit what you can store.

The security of the location may also not be as comprehensive as specialist self-storage units.

Metro Storage Pricing

What to consider

As always, it depends what you want to use the storage, but if you want to:

  • Put your things into storage it is usually pretty safe to assume you want to keep them in good condition,
  • Be able to access them regularly,
  • Only pay for the space you need,
  • Have the flexibility to have a larger or smaller unit as your needs change,
  • Feel safe when you visit your things and
  • Keep your items inside a building that has the very latest security features…

… then self-storage is your safest bet.

However, if you:

  • Just need to make space at home or work,
  • Don’t need to access your things regularly,
  • Don’t mind travelling far with an appointment when you do,
  • Have larger items to store to fill a large container,
  • Don’t mind being outside…

…then container storage could be the option for you.


Whatever you decide, Metro Storage, London’s best all-inclusive storage, is here for you and we’re happy to talk you through your options. We provide flexible and secure storage in the heart of Central London. Our prices all include FREE insurance and we even offer the use of a padlock for FREE whilst you store with us. 

We have many different storage room sizes available and you are free to upgrade or downsize when you need.  

The team behind Metro Storage have been operating self-storage stores in Central London since 1998 and we’ve seen it all as regards to storage. We are always happy to help out so if this article prompts any other questions for you please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today!