Category Archives: Gay Homstays News

What our guests have to say about their hosts and Gay Homestays

Gay Homestays has built itself a great reputation within the global LGBT community, especially in the gay travel accommodation market. Below are select few testimonials from satisfied guests who have stayed with some of our top hosts around the world and had positive experiences using Gay Homestays as a source for gay accommodation so you can see for yourself:

CARL1/1 in Rome

“I’ve used the Gay Homestays services a few times during the last months, and I should say that it’s been great. I’ve felt like home in every place I’ve been, including this one. And will never hesitate in using it again. Carlos”

CRUG1/1 in London

“Gil is an exceptionally kind, considerate and thoughtful host who is never short of a friendly smile and positive conversation. The bed was very comfortable and there was plenty of storage for my clothing. This was my first experience of using Gay Homestays and meeting Gil has ensured that it won’t be my last! James”

THOF1/1 in Barcelona

“I had the pleasure of staying at this apartment in Barcelona with my partner who was celebrating his 40th Birthday.  The host was very welcoming and was extremely organised. The location is ideal for being in the middle of the gay areas. This was our first stay in somebody’s home through Gay Homestays and I must say we were pleasantly surprised.  I would very happily stay here again and would happily recommend Francois and his home to anyone planning a short stay in Barcelona. Well worth a visit. Thank you 🙂 Shane”

PAPN1/1 in New York

“Our stay with Nicolas was most memorable. He is an absolutely gracious host who spared no effort in making sure that we were comfortable. The apartment is superb and we felt very special to share it with Nicolas. Thank you also to Gay Homestays for taking care of our booking so efficiently. Merlin”

OZBM1/5 in Istanbul

“It was my first time using Gay Homestays and I was hesitant but it turned to be a great place, great hospitality and the best thing, a very friendly host. I am definitely recommending this lovely place 🙂 Chai”

COPC1/2 in Devon

This was the first time we’d used Gay Homestays to book a short break, so didn’t know what to expect. We needn’t have worried – all was professionally organised and our host Christopher was very welcoming and helpful and we were made to feel as if this were part of our home too! Didn’t use the heated jacuzzi but were free to do so if we wished.

Lovelly garden in a location tucked away and so very peaceful with ample parking and yet only about 5-10 mins walk to or from the town centre and with a slightly longer walk to the train station, we went to Exeter by train very easy and cheaper than paying for the parking there!

Great location is you want to explore East Devon, Dorset, Somerset or a quick trip down to the coast. Would definately stay here again.  Simon & Ian”

PHIB1/1 in Paris

“My partner and I just got back from a trip to Paris. It was the second time we used the services of Gay Homestays. We stayed with Philippe in Paris, for three days. It was a great experience and a more wonderful person and host is difficult to find. We will definitely continue to use Gay Homestays for our trips. Peter”

RODJ1/2 in Valencia

“This was my first time using Gay Homestays and I was very impressed from the start. My accommodation in Valencia was fantastic- very central, clean and tidy, and with a friendly host who gave me info on local gay bars (all nearby), beaches, etc. He was professional in manner and left me to my own accord.

The room has a lovely balcony overlooking the street with a nice bar on the corner nearby where I ate in the evenings. It was so hot during my stay in Valencia the good quality fan secured to the wall helped circulate the air without making a constant noise. There is a TV in the room for those who want it with many TV and radio channels. I would definitely recommend this accommodation. Daniel”

HILB1/1 in Manchester

“Staying with Brian was a wonderful experience. He is a gr8 guy. His apartment was in a building similar to one you would find in Tribeca in NYC. The place was beautiful and very convenient. I would definitely stay with him again if I should return to Manchester. This was my first experience with Gay Homestays and I will certainly use this again to find a place to stay. Jack”

ROMC1/2 in Gran Canaria

“My partner and I stayed with Marcial and Roman last week on our first trip to Gran Canaria. We liked the idea of staying with a local couple instead of a normal hotel and also liked the the look of the property from the website.

When we arrived, our hosts could not have more welcoming. Our room was perfect. The bathroom was also great. The rest of the house and garden were even better than the photos showed and Roman and Marcial encouraged us to make ourselves at home which we did straight away. They made us feel so at home that we felt like we staying with friends for the week.

As we hadn’t been to the island before, they gave us good advice about what to see and do as we wanted to see some of the island as well as the beaches and the Yumbo Centre!

Breakfast was laid out for every morning which including fresh homemade bread and a variety of pastries each day as well as fruit, cereal, yoghurt etc.
The dogs Moro and Tamo were also very welcoming and very cute. We would highly recommend this homestay and hope to return ourselves in the future.
Stuart & Andy”

Exclusive Interview: Michael Black (gay couple and the B&B refusal case)

If you have been paying attention to the news recently, you will most certainly have heard about the resolution to the controversial case surrounding gay couple Michael Black and John Morgan who were turned away from a Christian couple’s bed and breakfast in Cookham in 2010 because the two men’s sexual orientation went against the Wilkinson’s religious beliefs.

Black and Morgan decided to take Susanne and Mike Wilkinson to court and now, two years later, have won their case which orders the Wilkinsons to pay £3,600 in damages to the couple. However, the Wilkinsons are considering to appeal against the case, but have just two weeks to make a final decision.

Michael Black (L) and John Morgan (R).

We managed to get an interview with Michael Black who talked to us about how the original incident unfolded, their feelings throughout the entire case up until now, how they hope the result will affect others in the same situation and what they think of the service that Gay Homestays provides for gay travellers.

GH: When you travel, do you normally stay in gay accommodation or not or do you not usually have a preference?

MB: It’s a mixture really.  We do have a preference for gay-owned places but we have stayed in those that aren’t before, although we’d never come across this particular problem before.

GH: What initially drove you to decide to book at the Wilkinson’s B&B?

MB: We were visiting friends who live in that area (Cookham, Berkshire) and it was the nearest accommodation we could find that was in our price range, so location was the main factor, but also price as well.

Susanne and Mike Wilkinson, the Christian owners of a B&B in Cookham.

GH: How did you feel in regards to your treatment by the Wilkinsons and what were the sequence of events that led to the case being taken to court?

MB: We were really shocked by their attitude, and we honestly felt like we were treated as if we were second class citizens, it was very shocking and hurtful. When we arrived at the place and got out of the car, Susanne was standing at the front and soon as she saw that we were two men, we noticed her body language change. When we entered the B&B, she first of all confirmed that we had booked one double room for the both of us – to which we replied yes – and she immediately told us she could not allow us to stay due to her religious beliefs. We thought it might be illegal but we were not sure so we asked for our deposit back – which she gave – and decided, since we had no choice, to drive all the way back home that night instead.

Although we knew it was illegal for hotels to discriminate against anyone based upon race, religion, sexual orientation or anything else, we were unsure as to whether this law also applied to B&Bs. We first of all contacted local papers to try and get something put in them about the B&B and why we would not recommend it to anyone, which was soon noticed by the local BBC news and eventually the national media who took an interest in the story; we never expected it to become so big, so the national coverage was accidental really. We soon got in contact with Liberty, who were very helpful and when we were made aware that B&Bs that discriminate are breaking the law, we decided to take the case to court to be resolved.

GH: What are your feelings now after winning the case and do you think this will affects other B&B owners’ attitudes in the future as to who they accommodate?

MB: We are obviously delighted that we won the case, although we realise this may not be the end if the Wilkinsons decide to appeal, which reminds us of a similar case that happened in Cornwall with a gay couple who were turned away by a Christian couple who own a hotel; although they won the case initially, the owners have taken the case to the Supreme Court, so who knows what the outcome could be now. However, we hope this case will make other B&B and hotel owners aware that discriminating against anyone, no matter what their own personal or religious beliefs are, is illegal. We also hope anyone looking for accommodation in the future will make sure they are more knowledgable of the places they look at before booking or going anywhere.

BNP leader Nick Griffin caused more controversy over Twitter regarding the incident.

GH: What were your thoughts when you heard about the things BNP leader Nick Griffin had tweeted?

MB: At the time of this particular incident we were actually on Radio Cambridgeshire doing an interview and the news editor told us about it, which made us very worried about what could happen. We were horrified that he had tweeted such things and especially posted our address online, but thankfully Huntingdon police, our local force, and Liberty were very helpful to us again in ensuring our safety and privacy. That same night (Thursday) we did not return home as we were due to stay at a hotel in London, but when we heard on Friday that no-one had come to our house and that nothing had happened, we felt a lot more relaxed about the situation.

GH: We are passionate about providing safe, affordable and friendly accommodation for gay travellers. You have had a look at our website, so what do you think about it and what we are trying to do?

MB: We definitely think it is a good idea and important that LGBT people have the option of staying in gay-owned or at least gay-friendly places of all sorts, but we also believe gay people should not have to feel that they should have to only stay in gay accommodation and they should be able to stay anywhere they want without discrimination.

We’d like to thank Michael Black for his time and please let us know what your thoughts and opinions are on this whole case!

Gay Homestays promo vid: the making of

The Gay Homestays team is proud to announce the release of our first ever promo video, which can now be seen on YouTube in both standard and HD format. We love the idea of helping people to travel and meet new people around the world so wanted to find an alternative way to spread the word about our product and service. Set and filmed entirely in Barcelona, our destination with the highest number of hosts, the video will hopefully increase interest in, and knowledge of the Gay Homestays brand and continue to create a presence across a variety of different multimedia platforms.

Pre-production

Prior to filming two members of the team took on the responsibility for writing the script while CEO Dave Chambers hired the help of a professional video production company, based in Leyland, to film and edit the video. Dave had lived in Barcelona for a few years where he ran his own B&B – and where the inspiration for Gay Homestays came from – so was familiar with the area and locations, as were other team members who are based in the gorgeous Spanish city, and he wanted to take on the challenge of directing and producing the video.

A team of six, including gay German model Jan who plays the main role in the video, set off to Barcelona on 18th August to begin their 3-day shoot. They booked into a hotel near Placa Cataluya, which is in central Barcelona, and bonded immediately, making the shoot a fun and exciting experience.

Miramar Café

Locations

Two of our very own hosts gave permission for us to film in their properties; we used Paul’s accommodation for the bedroom and lounge scene and Paul kindly volunteered to appear in the video, playing himself and Mario, who is also a professional masseur allowed us to film the massage scene in his studio at his apartment. In all, there were 13 scenes shot in 10 different locations around Barcelona. For example, the ‘restaurant scene’ was filmed at the famous Miramar Café (pictured above) in Mountjuic, with its breathtaking vistas and the sweeping panorama scene was filmed early morning at the Guadi inspired, Park Güell. Unfortunately the sunrise we were hoping for was cloudy and hazy, so an orange hue was added during post-production.  On the first day of filming, many of the shots were done outside and around the city, while the second day consisted of shooting in the apartments. Finally, the office and beach scenes were filmed on the third and last day.

Park Güell

Post-production

On return to Manchester, Dave commissioned a friend of his, Neil, who is a film and TV actor, to provide the voiceover for the video. Dave also chose the calm piano music to accompany the video to give it a relaxed vibe. The voiceover was done in a recording studio owned by Martin, brother to comedian Steve Coogan, who was the lead singer of indie rock band The Mock Turtles, who had success in the early 1990s. Their biggest hit was “Can You Dig It?” released in 1991.

Please let us know what you think of the video and don’t forget to like, share and comment on it as well – all feedback is welcome!

Gay Homestays goes mobile!

Last week we were happy to announce that we had finally launched our iPhone app and it is now available to download for free from the iTunes store. But why download it and what is so good about it? We sat down with one of our customers in Manchester to give it a test-run and asked them to review it for us.

The walkthrough: On the app’s homepage you can search for a room by entering your chosen destination, check-in and check-out dates and the number of people looking for a place, before giving you a list of all the available properties for your chosen dates. Clicking on one room or apartment will load that page, allowing you to view its pictures, see where it is on the map, read reviews (if any) and a description of the place, see how much it is (you can also change the currency), as well as the host’s bio if they have filled out their info.

If you want to book that room or apartment you can ‘request a booking’, which will be sent straight to the host who will reply as quickly as possible (usually within 24 hours) as to whether they and their place is available when you want it. If it is, you are then sent a reply asking if you want to book it. You can use this app not only as a customer but also a host so you can also list your own property to rent out and make money.

The Review:

The interface: “The layout is basic yet compact, but that’s not a bad thing – it’s easier to navigate and very quick to get the hang of.”

The features: “The app has the same features as on the website, so it’s not exactly like a down-graded version and you can do everything on it as you can on the original site. It’s probably more convenient for customers and hosts who are always on the move – no need for a computer and no longer need to use your mobile’s internet to access the full site either.”

Positives: “It is very simple to use and not too clustered. The quality of the graphics is also really good and file size-wise it’s not a very big app so doesn’t take up a lot of memory on the phone.”

Negatives: “Can sometimes be a bit slow to load some pages with pictures that are too big when using 3G, but connecting to a wireless network is better.”

The app is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, 4 and 4S, iPod Touch (3rd and 4th generation) and the iPad, requiring iOS 5.0 or later. While the iPhone app is our first-stepping stone into the mobile world, in the future we hope to expand this further afield to developing one Android as well, so watch this space… In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the iPhone app!

Our Top Summer Destinations

I think we’re all starting to look forward to our summer holiday now, if we’re lucky enough to be going on one. Whether you’re off for a couple of days or two weeks in the sun, there are some destinations for everyone.

1. Sitges

Sitges is a Spanish seaside town not far from Barcelona. It has 17 beaches, and from 5th to 9th July is Sitges Gay Pride – only the second they have ever held, but it’s guaranteed to be a blast.

2. Milan

You don’t have to be a football fanatic to visit the second largest city in Italy. If you go on holiday to find art, culture and architecture, this is the place for you. And if you’re a football fan, all the better!

3. London

With the Olympics set this year, we’re pitching London as one of our top summer destinations for 2012. As if there isn’t enough to do in London already,  this year will be choc-a-bloc with extra things to see and do. One of those is at the Tate Modern, where Damien Hirst will be showing until the summer.

If you’d like to tell us about any of your favourite destinations, we’d love to hear about them!