Last Updated on May 15, 2014 by Jody Halsted
For most of us, a hotel is a place of dreams and wonder, where the pint-sized toiletries are ripe for the picking, where you can order a drink at all hours, where everyone with a name tag wants to be your friend. It's a place where someone else gets to make you supper, bring it and then clear it away.
It's also that place where everything is a little too expensive, where you're charged a small fortune for every minuscule item of clothing you choose to launder. It's where a thimbleful of vodka in the minibar will set you back four times as much as it would in a bar, where the peanuts most certainly are not complimentary, but rather their price on the itemised bill is downright insulting.
May I also add: a trouser press in every room; superglued-shut windows; too-short bath tubs; identikit corridors; sharing lift space with strangers; weird, unfamiliar breakfasts; overheated/chilled room temperatures;. I could go on, but I fear I too will overheat.
Did you know that there is an alternative? It's called someone else's home.
There are several ways in which you can make this happen. You could befriend that guy on the plane next to you, follow him home and refuse to take no for an answer. You could find an empty house in a neighbourhood you like, break in and enjoy your stay. Or you could do what a lot of people are doing and, via the web, hang out in someone's home. Someone, that is, who actually wants you to be there.
The two well known sites that make this possible are couchsurfing.org (which is just what it sounds like and probably not a great family option) and AirBnB, which describes itself as a global network of accommodation offered by locals. With AirBnB, you can either rent a room in someone's property – or you can go the whole hog and have the place all to yourself. All the extras, such as cleaning and an extra levy for additional people, are added on at the end.
At the top end of this model is OneFineStay. Although it's only available in London at the moment, there are plans to roll it out in other European capitals and some cities in the U.S. There's a nightly flat rate, and when you arrive, you're met by one of the agents who hands you an iPhone with an app detailing every last little thing about your property and the area you're staying in. All of onefinestay's rental properties are on the right side of the tracks, and they are beautifully decorated. The whole concept is way more personal than a hotel room, and you don't even have to nose around the house to see what the owner's peccadilloes are – just take a look at their pictures, books and trinkets. And, from a financial point of view, renting someone's house for a week probably works out a lot cheaper if you're travelling with the whole family.
But the best thing? All the pillows are soft and downy and, in short, perfect. Hotels don't care about the pillows, because they don't sleep on them. Home owners, on the other hand, do.
Photo credits: OneFineStay
This post was written for Family Rambling® and does contain sponsored content. But really, isn't this how you would prefer to stay in London?