Recently I was invited to my old city to check out a new concept in home stays: Christchurch, New Zealand is short of beds after the series of quakes that meant many hotels have had to been demolished.
Now a new concept and a great group of women have ensured that you need not worry – you will be able to find a bed and accommodation there that suits you.
I took this picture off their website as it so wonderfully portrays the concept – a virtual hotel with lots of rooms, in diverse styles and in different parts of the city. Smart idea.
Look After Me founder Julia Charity told me her website means mature travellers (particularly women) can find safe places to stay, and with authentic kiwi hosts and making genuine connections.
With homes from north of Whangarei down to Queenstown to choose from, there is bound to be a host with shared interests (gardens, recipes, wine, literature, education, walking, fishing, grandkids) near to where to are going – whether its six of you travelling for a work conference, or an person who likes her home comforts and not an inner-city hotel.
Some hosts offer pick-ups and home-cooked meals, all of which are fairly priced and below standard commercial rates. The two I stayed at in Christchurch were different both in accommodation and hosts interests.
My first night was in a modern Merivale apartment where host Yvonne Preece told me her suggestions to visitors there on holiday would be to check out the Court Theatre and the Fo Guang Shan galley, tea-house and Buddhist temple, and of course at the end of her street, her favourite shopping centre, the Merivale Mall.
The next night was a perfect example of “the same hotel –Look After Me – different rooms” as my room was now, off the flat plains of Canterbury and up on the Port Hills overlooking the city, plains and the Southern Alps. Country in the city sums it up perfectly – from miniature highland cattle and ducks, dog and wonderful views and where Sandy offers real kiwi hospitality. Despite being ‘country’, it’s also only moments from Princess Margaret Hospital where many people who will need to come to Christchurch to visit sick friends or family and only a short bus or taxi trip into the city centre to visit the new container mall.
While this virtual hotel has rooms spread the length and breadth of New Zealand, it’s particularly welcome in Christchurch with the scarcity of beds there and some people’s fear of staying in the city or in high-rise buildings, this is a perfect solution.
So, if you are travelling on your own, or ten of you are in a city for work or play, you can all stay in the one widely spread venue and just meet-up at the conference, sport or music event!
Check out the Look After Me website to see details of each home, and check this site for more stories about my home-stay visit to Christchurch.
And, thanks for introducing this to me Julia, and my hosts and their family!