Their Home Is Yours
While planning a trip to Peru last July, Brian Twite and his girlfriend, Constance Hansen, decided to skip hotels and stay with a host family. At $35 a night, the accommodation in the Santiago district of Cusco was a bargain. But the warmth of their host mother, a 65-year-old widow named Marie, won them over.
“We’d wake up and she’d yell, ‘Chicos!’, calling us for breakfast down the hall,” said Twite, a Chicagoan who works in manufacturing logistics.
After a long day of sightseeing in the Sacred Valley, Twite, 32, said he was grateful to come home and share highlights of his day with Marie and her son, Jonathan. “You sit down to a meal and talk about your day. They asked us, ‘What did you do? Where did you go?’ That was really magical because you don’t get that with a hotel.”
As travelers’ appetites move toward wanting more intimate, locally driven and nongeneric experiences in recent years, homestays — traditionally the fallback for backpackers and foreign exchange students — are emerging in a new light.
“It’s the best way to get a feel for the place you’re visiting,” said Cliff Carruthers, a retired urban planner in York, England, who booked a homestay in Pakistan last month.
At London-based Wild Frontiers, a luxury tour planner, the founder, Jonny Bealby, says 80% of his tours today include at least some kind of homestay. In some cases, popular itineraries have been revised to include a homestay; a walking tour of Palestine that’s been offered since 2013, for example, now features a village stay in Sanur.
“It’s being driven by the customer,” Bealby said, noting that travelers from London, Boston and New York seem willing to forgo the conveniences of a plush hotel every night. “What they want to do is connect.”
“It absolutely takes a bit of trust,” said Yvonne Finlay, managing director at Homestay.com, which launched in 2013 and now operates in 142 countries. “Effectively, you’re coming into this person’s home. So there needs to be that element of respect.”
Homestays also have a practical appeal. With Cuba’s limited hotel inventory, homestays are often the best option. One boutique travel company, Pelorus, pairs guests with specific hosts and neighborhoods, depending on their interests — food, music or retracing family roots. “Homestays allow us to be more flexible,” Jimmy Carroll, the company’s co-founder, said.
文／Alex Schechter 譯／李京倫 核稿／樂慧生