When I say ‘home bookings’, I really mean booking through external services like LekkeSlaap, AirBnB, AccommodationDirect or SafariNow – and after several personal experiences with at least two of the above-mentioned services, here is why I like them best:
A More Personal Touch
In these instances, usually you will work directly with the owner of the property to set up the booking/trip rather than a hotel receptionist, or standard online booking service that accurately makes your bookings… but very rarely offers a more personal touch.
Thereafter, not only will you very likely meet the owner – who may welcome you first-hand to the property or else pre-arrange everything for your arrival – but you might also get a better sense of where you’re staying.
For example, when we booked our first-ever weekend getaway to Muizenberg last year, meeting the owners – a lovely elderly couple who greeted and checked in on us throughout the duration of our stay– gave us a better sense of the place.
They chatted to us when we arrived and when we left, and advised us of some safety tips (like not leaving anything visible in your car at night) and local attractions, like the Blue Bird Garage Food and Goods Market.
Not only did it help us get together a plan of attack for the weekend (although I always make killer itineraries, if I do say so myself, beforehand anyway…), but it introduced us to the warmth and sense of community present in that area.
Added Safety for All
There is something reassuring about a service, like AirBnB, which does a kind of background check too… I like the fact that you need to set up your first booking/full account using the likes of an ID document or such, so that you, and the person with whom you are booking, know you are a legal (hopefully law-abiding…) citizen.
This made me feel more reassured – and I was only the person booking! So I imagine, for the owners, it really gives a better sense of the potential guests too.
This may sound strange or unlikely when you book a place that is either a garden cottage, granny flat or place situated very close to the owner’s home, but we’ve never encountered anything but the utmost privacy and seclusion during our (to date) three weekends away.
For the second, in cool Kommetjie, we literally only saw our excellent host upon arrival and departure, although he did check in with me to make sure we were still fine and enjoying ourselves over Whatsapp during the weekend.
In the most recent weekend trip to Simon’s Town, we quite literally had the place exclusively to ourselves for nearly two full days because the owner was away for the weekend.
And, although you might worry that this could potentially mean that they haven’t organised everything in advance and you might be short of something during your stay, we had everything we needed (and more) and on the Friday when we were due to arrive, they even kindly left the lights on, knowing we’d be arriving long after it was dark.
Booking a home for the weekend really does make you feel more at home. It adds a more heightened sense of belonging too, in comparison to a hotel or B&B room – much as I enjoy staying in those too! 🙂
You feel like everything from the kitchen to the gorgeous little gardens and ocean views from the cottage are yours alone.
But also, in contrast to this, when you see remnants of the owners, in the supplied reading material or small touches about the place, it makes you gently remember that this is just your holiday home… and there’s something more romantic about that too, I find.
Online Reviews to Recommend Both Parties
You might think it’s only the homes or owners who get reviewed but actually, on sites like SafariNow and AirBnB, the owners get to review the guests in return!
We’ve been blessed to have only received good reviews to date but honestly, I think it really helps both the owners (and those booking) to get a sense of what their guest (or host) might be like.
For example, if you see that several other users have reviewed the host as “warm” or “so helpful”, you can be almost guaranteed that this is how they’ll be for you too.
Still, bear in mind that just as you might review them in a positive or negative light after you leave (and it’s helpful to them and to you to do so, just so you know), they can also review you, so please be a good visitor and where possible, tidy up after yourselves a bit when you leave and be courteous at all times. If there’s a problem, let them know while you are there and not afterwards when you write a review online…
Also, you can leave personal notes to each other so if you want to tell them something or write about something that bothered you slightly but didn’t otherwise detract from your experience, rather do it in a more closed-off space where they can see it and respond accordingly rather than publically slating them or casting a bad image on the place.
Be it through Whatsapp, email notifications or text messaging, we’ve always had great communication with the owners leading up to, during and even after our stays. This is particularly helpful when you need to arrange an arrival or departure time and makes things much easier for all concerned!
These are just some of the reasons I love ‘home bookings’… and will continue to use them for holidays and weekends away whenever relevant! 🙂
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