While I love a luxury hotel stay and have stayed at some pretty incredible hotels and resorts, it seems that my most memorable accommodations are often when I have the opportunity to stay with locals while traveling. I recently got the opportunity to do just that in Dublin, Ireland when I stayed with a family through Homestay.com.
Homestay.com is a fairly new company that has a different spin on the “rent a house while traveling” philosophy that is all the rage right now (like vrbo.com and airbnb.com) as instead of renting an empty house, you stay in one that is inhabited by the locals. These local residents are well screened by Homestay.com and want to show you a good time while you’re in their town or city.
I stayed with a lovely lady named Phyllis and her husband. Upon getting lost trying to find her home from the train station, I called Phyllis and she asked what street I was on, told me which direction to start walking, and then got in her car to come find me. Bet a hotel wouldn’t do that.
She said she’d been hosting exchange students for a number of years and signed on with Homestay.com because she and her husband so enjoyed meeting people from around the world.
We arrived at her home, which looked like a cozy, upscale cottage and she showed me to my room, chatting cheerfully the entire way. My room had a comfortable bed and pictures of her grandchildren. It definitely felt like I was staying with an old friend, not a stranger.
I thought the bathroom situation might be awkward as it was a shared bathroom that they also used, but it was tidy and clean and sharing it wasn’t a problem at all.
It was noon when I arrived and I wanted to explore Dublin so Phyllis kindly offered to drop me off at the train station to save me the 10 minute walk. I gladly accepted since I was enjoying her company.
And this signifies another excellent aspect of staying in a big city with Homestay.com. I was actually staying in the little coastal town of Blackrock about 15 minutes outside of Dublin by the DART train. I NEVER would have checked this town out if it hasn’t been for the fact that I was staying with a family there (most of Homestay.com’s families don’t live in the city center). And I loved it.
I was never not going to spend my time during the day exploring Dublin’s city center (when it comes to what to do in Dublin, the city center sights can’t be missed!) so it was nice to head back to sleepy little Blackrock in the evening and experience the suburb life of Dublin. I’m quite certain if I ever end up moving to Dublin that Blackrock will be at the top of my list for where to live.
After getting off the train at the Blackrock train station, which is right by the sea, I hung out for awhile by the waves and took this short video of my account of my Homestay.com experience.
When I returned, Phyllis made sure I could get onto the Internet as I had some work to do then she excitedly announced she was off to a neighbor’s house to celebrate the Hurling championship win that day of the Ireland county of Clare, a county I was soon to spend some time in on my journey from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher the following day.
The sport of Hurling is a huge part of Irish life so it was fun to hear her talk about it. And it immediately clarified why I saw so many people in jerseys I didn’t recognize that day and why the pubs were full at three in the afternoon – another bonus if staying with a local, they point out things you may have otherwise overlooked or not fully understood.
I had a breakfast waiting for me when I awoke the next morning and I left my “Homestay” wishing I could have stayed longer.
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I was hosted by Homestay.com during my stay with Phyllis in Blackrock, however my opinion on the experience is all my own – including my delight in how friendly Phyllis was and how cute the town of Blackrock is.