If a “private homestay” is the key to an affordable visit to London, the same is true in Paris and Rome. Different from bed and breakfasts, homestays are the rental of a single room in a house or apartment whose owners are supplementing their income by taking in transient visitors. Such lodgings are available for as little as $35 to $40 per person per night, as compared with at least double that price (and sometimes more) for a room in a modest, commercial guesthouse or tiny hotel.
In my April 1 column, I listed several organizations that make such rooms available in London, such as www.happy-homes.com and www.athomeinlondon.co.uk. Immediately, I received letters requesting similar Web sites for low-cost private homestays in France and Italy.
— Paris room rentals: The notion of taking a foreign visitor into one’s apartment was once anathema to the average, privacy-seeking Parisian. To do so just wasn’t “French.” In a cultural shift that I won’t try to explain, slightly more than 200 Parisian families now have begun renting rooms in their homes or apartments — and these make up the inventory of three Parisian bed-and-breakfast services (more commonly known as chambres d’hôtes) offered to tourists from around the world.