Come treat my home like a hotel!

Holiday Second Homes
Holiday Second Homes

A Colorado ranch, a Scandi-styled house in New York’s East Village, a Cotswold cottage: just some of the private homes you can stay at with these networks of ‘unhotels’. 

It’s hard to move in January for enticing ads plugging beach escapes, city breaks and cheap flights, but we’re old enough to know better than to book the first holiday we come across. A touch of class, some refinement and a dearth of other tourists – thenwe might be tempted.

There’s always the second home, of course. As a generation, some of us have had the time and funds to secure that seaside bolthole or city condo, but do we really get to use them as much as we’d hoped? Willingly?

“People love their second homes, and spend a lot of money to buy and maintain them,” says Steve Zacks of 3RD HOME. “But given their investment, they sometimes feel the need to go there even when they would prefer to go somewhere else.”

3RD HOME: luxury second homes to swap

3RD HOME is a company born out of second homeowners’ desire to find a safe, fun and trustworthy way to use their spare capacity – without the hassles of renting – to travel to other great places.

“There are more than 1,700 luxury properties across 70 countries on offer to our members. Unlike traditional home exchange, members do not need to do a direct or simultaneous exchange with each other,” says Zacks.

“Members simply join the club, list their home, get approved, and then deposit empty weeks into the club. You earn 3RD HOME Keys for each week you deposit and can immediately use them to stay at other members’ homes.”

Properties in the 3RD HOME portfolio include Colorado mountain lodges, Australian beach retreats and Cornish estuaryside dwellings. In addition to private homes, there are many within world-class luxury residence clubs that endorse 3RD HOME to their owners, such as the Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York, Esperanza in Cabo and Tucker’s Point in Bermuda.

For us, be it as empty nesters, business travellers or holidaymakers less shackled by school calendars, such second home-swapping services can be an invaluable resource, and can save thousands on a single trip.

To sweeten the deal even further, see bottom of page for our exclusive deal with 3RD HOME.

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Atelier House, a contemporary beach house on the Barbados coast, from £595 a night, Any Friend of Ours

One Fine Stay: the ‘unhotel’

We don’t all boast bijou boltholes and property portfolios, granted, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sample the delights of other peeps’ pads.

One Fine Stay is the pioneer of the ‘unhotel’. You stay in real people’s real homes, with added hotel luxuries such as linens, toiletries and someone on call 24/7. An iPhone is included, preloaded with home information and tips on dining, drinking and days out. Room service is an optional extra.

Sign up to be a host and your home can be a nice little earner while you’re out of town.

So far, One Fine Stay is operating in London and New York. What better way to toast our NyLon entente cordiale than by sampling said cities from a native’s nest?

Canopy & Stars: quirky countryside retreats

The passion for glamping isn’t going away; if anything, it’s grown from mere tipis and yurts. The popularity of George Clark’s Incredible Spaces has proved that gypsy caravans, airstreams, sheds, beach huts and anything else of a petite and cosy nature are a refreshing antidote to typical tourist traps.

The go-to source for such hideaways is the charming Canopy & Stars, the most recent venture from travel expert Alastair Sawday. On its pages you will find everything from a Loch-side showman’s wagon to Ewok-style treetop dwellings in the Welsh countryside. The firm has expanded to the continent, too, with Dordogne fisherman’s cottages and luxury tent lodges in Alicante among its European offerings.

The Canopy & Stars mantra is a simple one: “We treasure beautiful places to stay, the simple things in life and the chance to slow down. That’s what we look for in our places. We believe that you can live and work in a sustainable, responsible way without having to compromise on fun, excitement or comfort.”

So whether swapping second homes, hotel-ifying someone else’s or whiling away a weekend in a wheat silo, make this the year of alternative accommodation.

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