I spent three weeks travelling across India and one of my highlights was staying with a local family in Alleppey, in the stunning Kerela. There is a saying in India "Athithi Devo Bhava", which translates to "The Guest is God". Trust me, you will get the most amazing treatment if you stay with a family in India... there is nothing like Indian hospitality. Our host, Jose, told us that Indians see it as a huge honour to have people stay in their home and will go out of their way to make their guests happy. Homestays are becoming increasingly popular because you get to experience the way the locals live. There are lots of homestays in Kerala to choose from which you can book here.
Homestays usually include breakfast and dinner and the food will be delicious, traditional, home cooked food.
Why you should choose a homestay over a hotel
1. Experience the Indian hospitality
Indian hospitality is one of a kind and Indians love to host and they will bend over backwards to make sure their guests are happy. As homestays will have fewer rooms, they have more time to give you a personalised service and attention throughout your stay. You can decide how much time you want to spend with the family and they will not be offended if you already have other plans.
2. Eat delicious home cooked food
Staying with a local family will mean you get to eat their home-cooked delights that are made with love. There is a massive difference between the meals served in a restaurant to that served in the home. The best thing is that they can adapt the meals slightly to suit your tastes. For example, if you don't want it to be as spicy just ask them. Be warned that a lot of people in India are vegetarian and don't eat meat, so they may only cook veggie meals, but you will not miss meat when you tuck into an authentic vegetarian home cooked meal. Our host grew his own bananas and they were the sweetest, most tasty bananas I have ever eaten and I am still craving some to this day.
3. Local knowledge and culture
Your hosts will be full of knowledge of the local area and you will be able to ask questions and learn from them. You will also see how the locals live and see the real India. You will also get an insight into family life in India which is at the heart of their culture. As they have so much knowledge about the local area, they will be able to guide you about what to do and see.
4. Different and unique experiences
Your hosts will help you arrange activities which match your interests and will usually have good contacts with local tour providers. Most hosts will treat you like a member of their family and will invite you to weddings and family gatherings. We were invited to Jose's daughter's birthday party which was a unique experience we wouldn't have had if we stayed at a hotel.
5. Learn the language
The hosts are usually more than happy to teach you a few words of their language. I also think it is polite to learn, thank you, please etc when you are staying in someones home. I have a few phrases and words from my travels that I think I will always remember.
Homestays are perfect for solo travellers as you will have people around to help look out for you and who even feel responsible for you. Your hosts will also be able to tell you about areas to avoid. Staying at a homestay at the start of your trip will help you learn about the culture early on and you will pick up helpful tips about the do's and dont's while in India. Many homestays will also offer to pick you up from the airport or organise taxis at night so you don't have to walk in the dark.
7. Characterful accommodation
Homestays are diverse and individual and some will be beautifully decorated while others may be simple mud huts, but all of them will have more of a personal touch than a hotel. The diversity of homestays also means that you will get to interact with locals from all different walks of life.
8. Get off the tourist trail
Most homestays are in normal residential neighbourhoods, away from the tourist traps. This means you'll be away from all the scams, touts and other hassles.
9. Meet new people
Most homestays only have a few rooms, so they are a great place to meet other travellers. As you eat breakfast and dinner together (if you want), you can really get to know the other guests and your host may arrange for you to go on excursions together.
10. Feels like home
Homestays offer the comforts of home which can be refreshing after backpacking for a while. There's nothing better than after a day of exploring, coming back to a familiar environment, a traditional home cooked dinner and a chat with your hosts.
11. Value for money
In addition to the experiences, the food, the culture, homestays are cheap in comparison to hotels and you will gain so much more.
When choosing your homestay, make sure to research and read the reviews before you book. As homestays vary so much, it is important to ensure the accommodation will meet your expectations, as some can be very basic. Some homestays have separate living quarters from the guests, while others you will be in in a spare room in the family home so you need to choose what is best for you,
We stayed with Jose at Kalappura Homestay and really enjoyed it, which you can book here.
You can book homestays through various different websites, such as:
If you have stayed in a homestay in India, I would love to hear your experience. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to feature in the interview series.
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