Aesa is a 28-year-old artist from Lyon who enjoys discovering new destinations. Every journey, whether in France or abroad, is for her an opportunity to discover new things, meet new people and share new experiences. Aesa is new to NightSwapping and tested the concept with a weekend in Forcalquier, in the French department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, and shared her experience.
What were your initial impressions when you first found out about Nightswapping?
When I was first told about the concept, I was immediately hooked. I’m a regular user of other online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb and CouchSurfing and I found NightSwapping to be a good combination of the two! NightSwapping offers all the benefits these two services offer, but without the disadvantages.
How did your first NightSwap go?
We had a very enjoyable first experience in Forcalquier. It’s very different from Airbnb. The fact that no money changes hands takes the pressure off and changes the whole deal. We felt more like friends staying with an acquaintance. Our host took the time to welcome us properly, telling us about the town and region as well as good advice about the activities to do and places to visit during our stay. There is genuine good will from both sides involved.
And the fact we didn’t have to spend anything on accommodation (apart from the €9.90 for the booking fee) meant we were able to enjoy ourselves all the more sightseeing, visiting, eating in restaurants, etc. Normally, we’d have had to keep a closer eye on our budget.
You were already used to using Airbnb before. In what ways was your NightSwapping experience different?
As I mentioned earlier, I find NightSwapping to be a combination of Airbnb and CouchSurfing. What I find interesting is that the spirit of CouchSurfing has been retained (travel less expensively and be part of a community of travellers who share a spirit of trust and hospitality) and in addition you get a “reward” for hosting people in your home, because you accumulate nights that you can then use for your own travels.
I think it’s brilliant that you get this freedom to use your nights in any way you like: you can opt to stay in an apartment right in the centre of a city or, if you prefer, stay in a house with a swimming pool out in the countryside, and all this without spending anything extra on top of the €9.90 booking fee.
When booking with Airbnb, I always choose my accommodation based on price, but NightSwapping gives me much more freedom and far more choice! And one big advantage it offers over Airbnb: it’s legal, so you don’t need to worry about the owner!
How would you describe our hosts?
I think you have to be a traveller yourself, and you have to enjoy being a good host and meeting new people. As it’s all founded on respect and mutual trust, I feel you need to have this sense of community spirit. When you’ve already stayed in private homes yourself, you know how to be a good host and make others feel at ease so they can enjoy their stay.
Some people still prefer staying in hotels when travelling; it all depends what you prefer and what you’re looking for. Personally, I would always choose to stay in a private home. This is because, in addition to the cost advantages, I find you often end up staying in a better location by doing this, and it’s a much warmer and genuine experience than that offered by a cold, impersonal hotel room. And you meet such fantastic people!
Are you planning to be a host yourself? If yes, what type of accommodation do you have to offer?
Yes, absolutely! I have a large apartment right in the centre of Lyon, in Place Bellecour.
I share it with a friend I’ve known for years, and when I discussed the concept with her, she agreed that we could have people stay from time to time and that we could use the nights we accumulate for short weekend breaks in France.
A special thanks to Aesa for her time. If you’re planning to visit the capital of the Gauls yourself, feel free to get in touch with Aesa to arrange a NightSwap in Lyon. She will be delighted to have you stay! :)