I’d been skeptical of anything resembling a homestay.Private rooms in hostels, small B&Bs and guest houses have historically been the mainstay of my accommodation choices. Could Airbnb − where locals rent out spare room(s) or a whole property – ever become a new solo travel accommodation option for me?
My previous perception of homestays
Visions of sitting around a dinner table with a family with whom I share about three words in common, shifting in my seat and feeling like a 10-year old needing to ask permission if I can leave the table (as soon as humanly possible).
Homestays didn’t sound like my idea of fun.
Enter 2009. The year I discovered there are homestays. And then there are HOMESTAYS.
This revelation was in Cuba, where the Casas Particulares (“private houses”) government scheme allows locals to rent out spare rooms like a guest house. Welcoming, cheap, and with tasty set-options dinners served in the privacy of a veranda or garden, they allayed my homestay fears.
My accommodation needs as a solo traveller
Beyond my Cuban experience, I was interested to find out whether AirBnB for solo travel – which usually works on a room-only basis – could tick my accommodation wish-list boxes:
- The opportunity for interaction with others
- The option for privacy if I want
- Within 10-15 minute walk of places to go in the evening – as a solo traveller I don’t want to spend too much time walking on dark streets
- Bonus points for outside space
Airbnb for solo travel – what I’ve found so far
Here’s a quick summary of the two places I’ve stayed so far.
Casa Menta, Antigua, Guatemala
Pros: Landscaped outside space with garden and chairs, helpful tips from host Miwa on a great local bar I wouldn’t have found on my own. Volcano view.
Cons: No other guests staying at the time, so no-one to go and enjoy the great local bar with. That didn’t stop me going though!
Garden B&B, Hay on Wye, Wales, UK
Pros: Great advice on sites to see – I changed my plans to follow my hosts’ advice and wasn’t disappointed. Annie was a sociable and friendly host who joined me for a drink in the local bar. Breakfast was included (and was delicious). Around 25% cheaper than local B&Bs.
Airbnb solo travel update: October 2016
In the last two years I’ve stayed solo in many more Airbnb accommodations, where the biggest hassle has been street noise and a not-quite-attached shower curtain. I’ve had a whole apartment to myself in Budapest, a small but perfectly formed room in an apartment right in the centre of Ljubljana, Slovenia, a roof-terrace room in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, and a room in a welcoming family home in Coconut Grove, Miami.
Since then, boyfriend and I have also stayed in Airbnb rooms and apartments – we have another one booked for our Mexico trip this month.