The whole ordeal of travelling may have begun with our parents when we were too young to understand the whole concept of taking a vacation. Frequenting from one hotel to another, we would tend to leave out a major competitor – homestays.
As times have changed, to accommodate the needs of modern Indian travellers, a major travel trend has garnered lots of attention, wherein travel enthusiasts have been showing immense interest in homestays.
There’s a reason why people say: ‘Home is where the heart is.’ To think of it, the very sound of the word ‘home’ brings a sense of warmth in our hearts and evokes the sentiment of belonging. But what is a homestay and why should you opt for it? Let’s find out.
What Is A Homestay?
Very simply put, homestays are a part of someone’s home converted into accommodation for visitors for a fee. Here, the host, usually a local family mainly provides sleeping arrangements in their home for visitors but might also have other add ons, such as meals, local travel arrangements, pickups and more depending on the homestay owners. A homestay will feel less intimidating than large impersonal hotels for first-time travellers. Even for regular travellers who are always on the go, a homestay is a great way to connect with new people and get a feeling of a ‘home away from home’. Nowadays, many people are choosing homestays as the services provided by the hosts are more personalised and affordable.
What Is The Difference Between Homestays And Hotels?
A homestay is similar to a bed and breakfast concept while hotels are an establishment that provides accommodation on a short term basis. In terms of publicity, the competition between homestays and mega-corporation hotel franchises is extreme. Most hotels are common and offer similar services; while on the other hand, each homestay is a reflection of its host and provides a homely vibe that hotels simply cannot offer. On the flip side, hotels offer certain facilities and luxuries that homestays might not be able to compete with such as pools, gyms, spa services etc. So, it depends on what you are looking to get out of your vacation.
Ten Reasons Why Homestays Are Better Than Hotels
1. Get An Authentic Local Experience
Travel is all about experiencing new things and embracing everything local. You cannot find a more authentic experience than staying at a homestay with a local family for a couple of days. While hotels can provide luxury, they seldom allow you to experience the true essence of the place. No one knows a place better than the local residents and by living at a homestay you can really connect with the place and get insider information.
2. A Real ‘Home Away From Home’ Experience
After living in a hotel for just a day or two, one starts missing the comfort and convenience of home. Homestays leave you with a warm experience, making you feel right at home. You can enjoy the view from the balcony, stroll around the house, or do anything anytime. Wouldn’t it be amazing to feel right at home and make new connections with people that become like family by the end of your trip? Opt for homestays during your vacation, rest assured you’ll never be away from home.
3. See Beyond The Tourist Trail
A homestay owner can guide you around the place better than any guidebook in the world. They make it their business to know more about the local area so that they can point out scenic routes and shortcuts for their guests, making exploring all the more convenient.
4. Savour The Local Cuisine
Nothing really matches up to the warmth of home-cooked meals! The best part about staying in a homestay is undoubtedly the scrumptious home-cooked meal. Staying there allows you to learn what goes into the preparation as most hosts are willing to share their secret recipes with you. If you’re someone who adheres to strict rules when it comes to food, homestays give you that option of customisation. Even if you want to eat outside, homestays can give you insights on some amazing local joints that might not be on the tourist map.
5. More Peace, More Quality Time
If you are travelling to get away from city life, homestays are a good choice. As they are smaller compared to hotels, you will usually not have more than ten people occupying a homestay. This only means that you get more quality time with yourself, family or friends. These unfrequented, less populated areas offer solitude. Some homestays are also available on hire as a whole, so for intimate group bookings these work well.
6. Contribute To Local Economy
Homestays are small and simple establishments run by the host family to augment their family income. By staying in a homestay, you directly contribute to the local income and thus help the destination grow and prosper. It’s a great way of giving back to the place of your travel. With or without responsible travellers, hotels will anyway flourish, but homestays have to be loved, nurtured and encouraged among travellers for the greater good.
7. Revel In Good Company
The best part about staying at homestays is that you always end up making friends. Homestay owners tend to be chatty folk; you’ll probably end up having long meaningful conversations and might just form a new friendship. Homestays are the best travel decision for those who travel solo. It always helps to have some company after spending the day exploring the town solo.
8. An Affordable Alternative
A good hotel has professional services that cater to the needs of their guests with ease, but sometimes such hotels can be expensive. On the other hand, homestays offer a clean and affordable alternative without any hidden costs. You can afford that extra sightseeing excursion or restaurant that you might have not have been able to if you were spending more on just your accommodation.
9. Safe, Especially For Solo Travelling
Homestays are largely run by a family and so it’s in their own interest to ensure that their place is safe for travellers. Travelling on your own can be a liberating experience, and some would argue it’s the best way to travel. In such cases, living with a local family gives you company and comfort like your own home. Additionally, hosts also ensure that you have enough privacy while you stay.
10. Experience New Cultures First-hand
By staying at homestays, you also get to learn about the culture of the place you’re visiting. Your host will give you an insight into their local life – how they communicate, what they eat, and how they dress. You may be able to read about the destination’s customs and cultures before travelling, but the only way to really get to know them is by experiencing it first-hand.
Tips For Choosing The Right Homestay
If you are a travel enthusiast, you might be familiar with the concept of homestays, but if not, then it’s something worth trying at least once in your lifetime. Here are some tips that can help you choose the right homestay for you and your family:
1. Make note of the basic amenities offered by the homestay.
2. Check if meals are available (especially breakfast) as you wouldn’t want to go out at 8 AM hunting for food in a new city.
3. Stay at a place where you can find a means of conveyance without much hassle.
4. Talk to the owners to get a clearer insight into the homestay and make sure to ask whatever questions or doubts you have in mind.
5. Always check for the reviews and ratings of the homestay you are planning to stay at.
What Do You Feel About Homestays?
A homestay is something you must experience at least once as you get to experience the destination through a local’s perspective. The personalised experiences that a homestay offers will make you fall in love with the idea of staying in one. Stay with a family you feel comfortable with and choose homestays during your next vacation accordingly and you’ll never feel homesick!
FAQs About Homestays
As mentioned in the article, homestay accommodation is when families offer visitors and travellers accommodation in their home for a fee. Guests stay with the family and get an authentic experience of the place and the chance to connect with locals in a cosy, homely atmosphere.
In the article, we have mentioned the main differences between homestays and hotels.
Homestay owners rent out rooms in their property (sometimes even the entire house) for certain durations and charge for the same. They also include value add services such as meals or transportation, these services differ from homestay to homestay.
Homestays are a great idea if you want cosy and homely vibes and the chance to connect with your host personally. Please do read about the benefits of homestays in this article to make your choice.