This week Gemma from Gay Homestays met up with Colin and Karyo, who host a property with Gay Homestays in Manchester. They’ve been receiving guests from us for a year now, and I wanted to find out about their experiences with them.
Colin and Karyo had started renting out their spare room as a way to pay the maintenance charge on their city centre apartment. After the first few guests though, they both agreed that the social aspect of having guests had overtaken the initial financial incentive.
‘We’ve met some wonderful people,’ Colin said. ‘We’re always happy to give people advice on where to go if they’re new to the city. We’ve had guests who’ve come with us on a night out, and we’ve had a great time.’
They host on several sites, and the apartment is regularly booked. This means Colin and Karyo can make the same income as they would have from a full time lodger, but the process has been much more fun and much less invasive for them. ‘We particularly like Gay Homestays guests because they are gay, we have more in common with them and sometimes we go out with them for nights out,’ Colin explained.
‘When we decided to start renting out the room, I was a bit nervous,’ said Karyo. ‘Colin is much more sociable than me, I like my own space. But after the first few guests, they were so lovely and we had such a good time with them that it wasn’t a problem at all.’
Colin said the highlight was definitely meeting so many different people from so many different cultures. ‘We had a Spanish couple staying once,’ he said, ‘who actually made us a Spanish breakfast in the morning. They really wanted us to experience their culture as well.’
‘We’ve had several guests who’ve left us a bottle of wine on the bed after they’ve left,’ said Karyo.
I could see straight away why they’re such popular hosts. They were friendly and welcoming – I had my coat taken and a cup of coffee in my hands before I could blink.
‘We have loads of different types of people staying, and we’re happy to accommodate all of them. Some guests just want a base to work from, and set up their laptop on the dining table,’ said Colin. ‘Others, like a Belgian lady who stayed with us, couldn’t stand their hotel. She said it was so impersonal and lonely. Whatever the guests want, we just want them to feel at home.’
I asked Colin and Karyo if they’d ever used a host rather than a hotel when they’d been away themselves.
‘Of course,’ said Karyo. ‘We stayed with a lady in Amsterdam when we went there for Pride. She had the most beautiful house, and the breakfast was incredible.’
‘We’ve had hosts who rent out their spare rooms in London coming to stay with us as well,’ said Colin. ‘It really seems to be taking off as an alternative to expensive hotels.’
Finally, I asked them if they had any gossip to tell me.
‘Once we had a news correspondent from overseas staying with us. We have lots of people from Europe who come to see the sites in Manchester. I didn’t realise it was such a big tourist attraction.’
To finish, I asked them if they were going to carry on hosting guests this year.
‘Absolutely,’ said Colin. ‘It’s become far more than the extra income now. We really look forward to meeting new guests, and we’re already had some inquiries for 2012.’