Melbourne homestays from $61
Sample price available at a studio apartment in Middle Park.
Living like a local has never been easier. There's all kinds of sites like Airbnb out there offering you the chance to stay in local homes, quirky places and other unconventional sleeping quarters - all much more exciting than a hotel.
Here are just a few places where you can find your dream accommodation, be it a hilltop villa in Italy, a chic New York City apartment, traditional ryokan in Japan or a cosy chalet in Whistler.
So what it that makes One Fine Stay the ultimate homestay experience provider? The company will make sure a representative personally vets each home before it's listed online and you’ll be personally greeted on arrival. Even more? You'll be provided with all the comforts of home including an iPhone with free data and local calls.
Another member of the HomeAway network, Stayz is a Sydney-based rental booking site boasting everything from beachside homes to farmhouses to city apartments. It is limited to just Australian properties, but provides loads of information and inspiration on where you can go in your own backyard.
Bred out of Germany, Wimdu specialises in city apartments throughout Europe though is present in over 150 countries worldwide. To date, it features over 350,000 apartments and holiday homes that you can make your own with a few clicks of a button.
After launching its site in 2012, Aura was founded by owners and managers of rental properties looking to improve the process of dealing with renting out their places online. They did it well enough to be recognised by the NSW Tourism Awards just two years after going online.
What better way to explore than on a roadtrip? Camplify gives you the chance to do just that in the comfort of a camper without forking out high rental costs. Choose from destinations all across Australia and rest assured - every hire on Camplify includes NRMA nationwide roadside assistance.
France-based Bedycasa may have started as a blog, but it's since evolved into a platform designed to help travellers explore in a more economical and authentic way in more than 8,500 cities around the world.
If you're looking for a private stay, then HouseTrip may be the best option for you. Unlike some of the other homestay and property rental booking sites out there, HouseTrip exclusively lists entire home rentals so you'll never find yourself sharing your space with other guests or the owners.
Vacasa's point of difference is that it not only managers your whole homestay experience but is responsible for marketing, maintenance and housekeeping, making the process easier for both hosts and guests. It's available in numerous countries around the world, though not yet Australia.
Perhaps Airbnb's greatest rival, Innclusive aims to curate a fun and rewarding holiday experience for all cultures. On top of accommodation it organises Innclusive networking events to help build its community and allow users to meet likeminded travellers.
Whether you've a family of three or a brood of many, Kid and Coe is a supportive network for families who love to travel offering suitable accommodation and services while on holiday.
Before Airbnb was even conceived there was couchsurfing. It's a homestay of a very different kind that works on a cultural exchange rather than a monetary one and allows you to stay in someone's extra space, whether it be a couch, a spare room or an attic. More often than not your host will be present throughout your stay and generally it's expected you save time to get to know them. From this you'll receive an insight into how they live and their personal recommendations of their city. And, sometimes, you may even come out of it with a long lasting friendship.
In Australia, renting out your home on platforms like Airbnb is generally legal. However, if you live in an apartment complex or are a tenant rather than an owner, the landlord or building management may not allow you to rent your unit out.
As Airbnb is still relatively new and the laws are constantly being changed, it's important to double check with your local council if you have any doubts.
If you're looking to book a stay in an Airbnb, it's also good to know what the laws are where you are, especially if you're booking a stay overseas. Laws differ from destination to destination, so it's important to check whether renting out someone's home for profit is legal for them to do without a license. If you're contacted by the host and they tell you anything that raises a red flag (like for you to pretend to be their relative and not a paid guest), tell Airbnb and try to get your reservation cancelled and refunded.
Some cities where it's recommended to double check local laws are Barcelona and New York City (Manhattan, specifically). Other destinations, like Santa Monica (Los Angeles) and Berlin restrict Airbnb-tyle listings to only offer a room in someone's home rather than an entire home.
Just like hotels, listings on homestay sites get reviewed by previous guests, which are usually clearly displayed on each listing. The rating (usually out of five or 10) and the number of reviews are clearly listed.
For example, on this listing on Homestay, the host has an average of 5/5 based on 39 reviews. The green badge on the upper right corner means the host is verified by the company. When looking for a place to stay, find a host that has a higher number of reviews - it will also likely mean they're a more experienced host.
Similar to the green badge used by Homestay, Airbnb has "superhosts", who have received five stars from at least 80% of their guests.
It's also recommended to check the area that you're staying in. Check online to see how far the stay is from the attractions you'd like to visit and check out Google Maps' street view function to get a feel for what the local area is like.
Most sites act as a middleman between the guest and host and allow you to pay for your stay through their platform. This is also the safest way to pay, as it will offer a secure payment system and you'll get a confirmation screen or email stating you've paid.
Like hotels, some prefer you pay upfront when you make the booking, while others you'll pay for closer to your stay date.
When you pay upfront, it may take a day or two to process your booking as the host needs to accept your request to stay before your card is charged.
|Airbnb||6-12% guest service fee + variable cleaning fees|
|HomeAway||Varies, but averages at 6%|
|VRBO||Varies, but averages at 6%|
|Homestay||Booking fee of up to 10%|
|Home Exchange||Annual fee of $180 (Unlimited exchanges)|
|FlipKey||Booking fee of 8-14%|
|Booking.com Apartments||No booking fee|
|TripAdvisor||No additional fees|
|HotelsCombined||External fees may apply|
|Rentals Combined||No additional fees|
|Tripping||No additional fees|
|Aura||No additional fees|
|Stayz||2% service fee|
|Wimdu||15% booking fee|
|Camplify||13-15% booking fee, some hires require a service fee|
|Bedycasa||€3.90 booking fee|
|HouseTrip||5% of the total cost|
|Vacasa||10-15% booking fee, some hires require cleaning, pet and hot tub fees|
|Innclusive||15% booking fee|
|Kid and Coe||3-15% booking fee|
|Couchsurfing||No booking fee|
|Last checked||Code description||Code|
|28 Jun 2018||Melbourne homestays from $61||********|
|28 Jun 2018||Bali villas from $29 per night||********|
|13 Mar 2018||Rhode Island stay from $60||********|
|5 Feb 2018||Melbourne homestays from $21 per night||********|
|5 Feb 2018||Sydney homestays from $17||********|
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