With more and more people traveling overseas to study at university, take language courses/internships or just for tourism, the demand for affordable short term accommodation in London is on the increase.
For people looking for short stay accommodation, homestay can provide a reasonably priced and suitable environment; particularly for anyone searching for accommodation for more than 2 weeks and less than 6 months. Many visitors choose homestay for the first few weeks/months of their stay as it provides an affordable base from which to get settled in and find their feet in a foreign environment. But, looking more closely at the features of homestay, it has much more to offer than just a budget place to rest your head here in London.
What is homestay?
Homestay can best be described as a “home away from home” experience. More specifically, homestay is a normal home that opens their doors to accommodate people looking for short to medium term accommodation. The individual will be treated as an integral part of the family – eating, socialising and relaxing with members of the household. The individual will have his/her own bedroom and will have access to communal areas around the house; such as the sitting room and garden. Often referred to as “host families”, homestays are not necessarily families in the traditional sense; homestay hosts can be single people, young couples, married couples with or without children and even retired pensioners. In short, they come from a variety of backgrounds.
How does homestay compare to other types of accommodation?
Let’s first turn to cost. Take London, for example; a popular international destination for students and travellers. One of the biggest advantages to a guest looking for short term accommodation in London is the cost. Generally speaking, short term accommodation in London is not cheap. A basic/average hotel will charge around £100 per night and much private sector accommodation does not offer short term stays (less than 6 months). At the time of writing, accommodation with a host family in London starts from £135 per week (around £19 per night!). So, it is a high quality, yet relatively budget, short term alternative to booking a hotel or hostel. It gives the overseas guest time to settle into life in London and continue to search for accommodation when they are here, as opposed to having to navigate the private rental sector from abroad.
Although homestay is not a hotel, hosts generally provide essential services including washing clothes, changes of linen and a selected meal plan. In most countries, regulatory bodies provide a set of standards to which homestays should adhere. For example, the British Council in the UK stipulate that a host must provide one load of washing a week, the room must be adequately heated and lit, and the homestay must be a clean and hygienic household. Before choosing a home, it is important to make sure that the homestay adheres to national regulatory standards.
Homestay is unique from other choices such as private lets and hotels in that there is a selection of meal plan options available. Meal plans can include Self-Catering (full access to the kitchen), Bed & Breakfast (continental breakfast with light access to the kitchen) and Half Board (continental breakfast with evening meal). Half board options are very popular for guests attending schools or universities during the day.
In addition, homestay is a very flexible option. The individual is not tied into six month break clauses; a minimum stay period is usually between 1-2 weeks. For example, if the guest is a student who is looking for longer term accommodation they are able to test the water before deciding to stay on longer. If the student is comfortable with the host, they can extend their stay further. Alternatively, if the student has made friends and wishes to move into a residence or house, this would also be possible.
Everyday life in a traditional home
As well as being an affordable short to medium term accommodation option, homestay provides a homely and practical environment, ideal for developing language skills if needed. Hosts serve as a “go to” person for guests looking for advice or information. For an individual who doesn’t know much about the country, an on-site guide can provide indispensable tips on transport, local hang-outs and practical essentials (emergency contact numbers, local amenities etc.)
Furthermore, homestay provides a unique insight into the culture, traditions and characteristics of a country. After having stayed in a homestay, many people stay in contact with their hosts and develop life-long relationships with people from all ends of the globe.
All in all, whether you are looking for a cheaper alternative accommodation or searching for a safe and comfortable cultural immersion, homestay is a fantastic option.
Find out more by taking a look at our Help Centre or How it Works page. Please bear in mind that homestay is not just for students – it is open to anyone wanting reasonably priced, quality accommodation in London.
If you have any questions, please do not hestitate to get in touch!