You’ve crashed in dorm rooms all over Europe, sampled Couchsurfing in America and splashed out on a few boutique flashpacker hotels in Asia – so what next? If you fancy lingering a while longer in a particular city, or just want to experiment with a different type of accommodation experience – then you may like to check out a website we came across recently, Wimdu.co.uk
Founded by two avid German travellers, Wimdu is a website which allows you to rent private rooms from hosts in houses and apartment blocks all over the world. It can be much cheaper than staying in a hotel, and offers a much more personal experience too! Fancy sharing a penthouse apartment with an artist in New York? Or renting the room above a bakery in a traditional French town house? Wimdu has over 150,000 accommodation options in over 100 countries – so there is something to suit everyone!
Watch out for a few cheeky hotel operators who have tried to get in on the action (particularly in Asia)! You will find that some of the ‘privately rented rooms’ are actually hotels in disguise… so make sure you read the description and reviews carefully.
And from the other side of the fence – if you’re sat reading this blog from your office chair, dreaming about ways you can raise the funds for your own backpacking adventure – perhaps renting out your own property through Wimdu may be one option!
So what do the bloggers think of Wimdu? Here are a few reviews…
“I’ve been traveling for the last 4 years. I learned that by travelling slower, I get to experience local culture and spend less money. I much rather prefer to stay in a city for a week to a couple of months than a couple of days. I don’t like feeling rushed. I’ve learned that renting apartments and staying with families provides for a better experience that hostels and hotels can’t provide which is something more unique and closer to actually living in the city. I remember in my last apartment in South America, I had a local bakery, meat market, laundry mat, and cafe that I went to regularly. They all knew me by name and it felt pretty good to be connected to the city and people.”
Gillian Duffy of ‘One Giant Step’
“In 2009 my partner and I left our home behind to travel the world for a year. We moved every three or four days and mostly stayed in hostels, guesthouses, and hotels. Our favorite, most memorable, stays during our travels? When we could settle in for a bit and stay in an apartment. Santiago, Chile; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Berlin, Germany; Tokyo, Japan. Where we could unpack, make a cup of coffee, have a cocktail in the evening, visit local pubs and restaurants, and really feel like we were part of a neighborhood.
Now, it’s easier than ever to find an apartment for a short term stay. For a recent stay in Hua Hin, Thailand I used Wimdu to find an apartment for the week we would be there. The Wimdu interface is super easy to use. Like most, it lets me sort by price, apartment type, area, and amenities. There are usually lots of pictures of the units so I can really see what it looks like and I can contact the host directly to ask more questions.
We found a fabulous, studio, apartment near the night market and only a few minutes walk to the beach. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast on the patio in the morning, and cocktails in the evening before heading out for dinner. All for less than the price of a hotel room.
There are only two downsides I encountered (and I don’t think they are limited to Wimdu). Sometimes the availability calendar isn’t up to date so you have to contact the host to double check that a place is actually available. There is a service charge; I hate service charges. I’m a budget traveler and I’m looking for what a place will cost me – I see the $XX/night and decide if I can afford it or not then. It’s not until the booking page that I see that there is a service charge. It seems to work out to about $3.50/night; not a lot, I know, but when you’re on a budget you’re on a budget!
The benefits definitely outweigh the downsides though. As a budget traveler, sharing an apartment can actually be cheaper than a hostel or guesthouse as you share the nightly cost, can eat some meals in, and are usually in a less touristy area which means restaurants etc are less expensive too. There really is nothing like settling in for a little while especially after travelling for a while. I will definitely continue to seek out apartments in our travels.”
My first time to stay at a Wimdu vacation rental was at a splendid little apartment in the heart of Seoul, Korea in January this year. First of all, the location was perfectly central! It was literally a few steps away from the train station- Gongdeok Stop. It was so easy to find and it saved me a lot of money in terms of cab fares and other transportation cost. I would step out to a selection of cafes, groceries and traditional Korean restaurants. It was also just one stop from the Hong Dae university area which I absolutely loved for the shopping, nightlife and artsy, fresh vibe.
The apartment itself was perfect for a solo traveler or a couple. It was relatively small, but the space was maximized and the host made sure it was well-stocked with milk, coffee, toiletries and even towels and a hairdryer which made me feel I was right at home! The decor also reflected Korean culture because the chairs were pastel-colored, cute and there was even a traditional Korean mat! I had arrived in the dead of winter but thankfully, even the floors were heated! I also made use of the oven, iron and washer & dryer in the apartment which was very convenient.
I have to confess that I spent more time in this Wimdu apartment, more than outdoors. I just felt so comfortable lounging around and watching the snow fall from the large windows of the apartment. What a great first experience in Korea, with Wimdu!
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