There’s a new-ish accommodation idea you can browse when planning your next trip abroad, especially a country you’re visiting for the first time. If you’re more interested in chatting with a local host and learning their favorite neighborhood haunts than picking up keys to a private Airbnb, Homestay.com currently covers about 150 countries on your wishlist. By simply requiring hosts to be present at home during the duration of the visit, the Dublin-based start-up is making the practice of “homestaying” possible for a demographic outside of high school students, and the cultural exchange between host and visitor is more akin to online communities like CouchSurfing.
“Homestays are the ideal accommodation choice for the price-conscious, experience-led traveler. They meet perfectly the needs of those seeking to live with local people, learn a new culture first-hand, and save some money,” CEO Alan Clarke tells CH. This includes a traditional Balinese house in an Indonesian village (starting at $11 a night), where the host will show you their family temple—or Soness, Yuji and their cat Nadya will lend you surfboards to hit the beach near their Chigasaki-shi, Japan garden home in for $34 a night (free: killer views of Mt Fuji). With so many eyes on Rio de Janeiro at the moment, we browsed some of the Brazilian city’s Homestay.com options for the photos here. Taciana’s place in Rio has already accrued reviews from visitors all around the world: China, India, Netherlands, Ireland and Germany.
Because Homestay.com is much newer (founded in 2013) and still building its base, there’s still a stark disparity in the number of listings, reviews and even overall photo quality. For example, searching Iceland results in only six places clustered near Reykjavik; compare this to Airbnb’s 300+ rentals across the Nordic island. The best bet is to start with the former’s strongest cities, like London, Barcelona, Vancouver or Dublin. Another slight difference between the two is that there’s no additional fee for Homestay.com guests (Airbnb charges a 6-12% service fee); Homestay.com just takes a 15% booking fee from hosts. Unsurprisingly, most hosts are on both platforms. The question is, which guest experiences they’ll come to prefer.
Most importantly, rather than selecting a place based on the size of the room or if there’s a swimming pool or not, this new platform encourages the traveler to find hosts whose interests (and spoken languages) might best line up. You’ll actually have a conversation over the dinner table—so choose wisely.
Images courtesy of Homestay.com