There’s nothing better than discovering the good things in life with your friends. This is exactly what Audrey did when she discovered NightSwapping a few weeks ago thanks to her best friend.
I discovered this “amazing NightSwap” in the French town of Thonon les Bains, famous for its spas.
Before NightSwapping, had you ever stayed overnight in a private house?
No, before this experience I had only slept at friends’ parents’ places or at places belonging to friends of friends or, more usually, someone at work lets you use their home in the mountains to go to skiing or to spend a weekend away. I had never stayed at a stranger’s house and I have to say that I loved the experience. Especially since I did not expect much hospitality.
Tell us more about your NightSwap.
Both my friend and I live in Lyon, it’s a beautiful city but unbearable in the summer because it’s stiflingly hot. My friend phoned me a few days before we left and said to pack a suitcase full of bikinis because we were going to spend the weekend at a lake. And without thinking twice I signed up for the adventure. In the car I asked her exactly where we were going and where we were going to sleep – thinking naively that one of her friends had left her the keys to their house and then she told me about NightSwapping, a platform in which housing may be free or at a very affordable price and where no one makes money, just nights, for an authentic and local experience!
I really did not know what to say because I really wasn’t sure about staying at the home of someone I didn’t know, well neither of us knew, but when I got out and saw our NightSwapping host’s house, I was speechless.
In less than two hours, we had left the big city behind and arrived in a magical and peaceful place. A nice house with a large garden and on the ground floor a mini studio with every comfort for us alone! Marie Cecile, came out of her house to welcome us and we spent some time chatting with her. She was a very nice woman who had left Paris to live quietly in Thonon les Bains with her children.
We talked for over half an hour as if we had known each other all our lives, it was natural and she gave us great advice about the area. She had also left several surprises waiting for us to discover when we were left alone: a folder with maps and pamphlets like the ones given out in the tourist offices… and a refrigerator full of things for breakfast: home-made jam, butter milk, muffins, beer… To me this was amazing!
The weekend was really great. We had breakfast on the terrace, we fed the goose that Marie Cecile kept in the garden, we walked around the city and best of all, we swam in Lake Leman, one of the biggest lakes in Europe. On Sunday morning we packed up and cleaned the studio and of course we left a little present for our most adorable hostess (she had told us that on Saturday she was also going away for the weekend and would not be to say goodbye to us).
We loaded our stuff in the car and went to the other end of the lake, because we were so rested we didn’t want to miss the chance to see the other amazing places in the region just a few kilometres away.
What did you like most about this NightSwapping experience?
Undoubtedly, the personal lesson I learned. I had preconceived ideas about this way of staying in someone’s home. Well, actually I didn’t have a clue but I thought it would be odd, dangerous, uncomfortable… Actually it was quite the opposite. I found everything to be completely positive, you get to know friendly people, who provide you with hospitality and the best tips to discover the amazing places around, avoid paying parking, short-cuts and the best restaurants…. and best of all, of course, you save money. These are all advantages and NightSwapping has just opened the doors to an unknown world for me – staying with locals.
Would you recommend NightSwapping to a friend?
Yes and I think I’m going to copy my friend’s idea. I’ve had a look on the website and I’ve looked for full accommodation for 4 people in Italy. There are very cool things there. I’m sure my friends will be as surprised as I was when I take them NightSwapping.
Audrey thank you very much for sharing your story, which certainly shows all the benefits of staying at a local’s place.