Why you should stay at a Homestay in India
When I’m traveling India I always crave an insight into the real culture, I want to have more authentic experiences away from the tourist traps and meeting local people is always a highlight. When you travel a lot bland hotels get old quickly, and especially if you travel solo a lot like I do it can sometimes even get a bit lonely, and if you are only in touristy areas you will likely experience a lot of hassle. The solution is to stay at a homestay in India!
Sometimes you can be lucky and be randomly invited into a family home, like I did in Khajuraho, but if you want to be really sure of experiencing genuine Indian hospitality then luckily there are a growing number of homestays in India.
I’ve always been a fan of more local experiences so on my recent trip around North India organised by India Someday I asked them to arrange for me to stay at homestays and I wasn’t disappointed.
I loved how they organised a variety of different homestay experiences in each destination which allowed me to meet local people and gain more understanding of the local culture and lifetsyle, eat home cooked food, experience a different way of life, and also get off the tourist trail and take advantage of my hosts insider tips. (See more about that trip here and for details of the homestays)
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If you’re still not convinced here are 10 reasons why you should stay in a homestay in India:
Experience the legendary Indian hospitality – One of the very best things about this country is the welcome, hospitality and the genuine interest shown by the local people. Indians are such friendly, warm and hospitable people and there is even a saying in India, “Athithi Devo Bhava”, which means “the guest is God”. Indians are really honoured to have guests, especially from another country, in their home and Indian hospitality is legendary.
Get to know local people – Staying in a homestay is a great way to get to know normal, genuine Indian people. Most Indians are really friendly and many speak English really well so communicating is usually quite easy. You are free to do your own thing and just dine with the family or you can choose to spend hours chatting to them and learning about the Indian culture and way of life.
Home cooking is always best in India – It’s no secret that the best food in India is found in the home. By staying in a homestay in India you can experience the best Indian food cooked with love and shared with the family. Many Indians are vegetarians so be prepared that meat may not be available in a homestay but you really won’t miss it once you tuck into delicious home cooked veggie dishes.
Safety – Homestays in India are great for solo female travellers as you’ll have a family to look after you. It’s a great idea to stay at a homestay at the start of your India trip as you’ll get to learn more and understand about the culture and will get safety tips and looked after by the family who will often feel responsible for you. When I’ve stayed at homestays as a solo female travellers the family has often picked me up or provided a driver so that I am not walking home alone at night after a day sightseeing.
Learn about Indian culture – By staying with a family in a homestay you’ll get an insight into how real people live in India and will be able to talk a lot and learn so much more about the Indian culture than if you were staying in a hotel. By staying in a homestay you’ll get an insight into family life in India, which is a really important as India is a very family oriented culture.
Authentic personal experiences – Staying at a homestay in India allows you to get off the tourist trail and immerse yourself in more authentic and genuine experiences. Unlike a hotel, a homestay usually only has a few rooms and is run by the family who live there. This means you’ll get genuine hospitality and personalised attention.
Participate in unique activities – Hosts are usually keen to arrange activities that will give you a better insight and experience. The activities depend on the location and the hosts but could include attending local festivals or weddings, visiting villages, temples and natural beauty spots or even helping with some cattle herding or visiting the family spice plantation.
Experience a variety of homes – You’ll also meet a huge variety of different people as homestays are a great way to experience the incredible diversity and charm of India and it’s diverse peoples. Homestays in India can be anything from a mud hut in a rural village to a historic haveli or fort to a luxury modern city house. Whichever homestay you choose it will be a lot more interesting than a sterile and characterless hotel.
Local Knowledge – You’ll also be able to take advantage of the information that the hosts have about their local area. The family’s local knowledge, insider tips and connections are usually really helpful and invaluable which should help make your trip more smooth and enjoyable. Many hosts are delighted to show their guests around their local area allowing you to get off the tourist trail and experience the place like a local.
Get off the tourist trail – When staying in a homestay in India you are likely to be staying in a normal residential area far away from the tourist traps and the tourist hassle and scams allowing you to experience a less hassled and less touristy side to the destination.
How to find and arrange a homestay in India
The type and quality of accommodation in homestays varies a lot – some are quite basic and others are very luxurious depending on the family. Sometimes guests stay in spare rooms in the family home and sometimes the hosts have built separate quarters especially for guests nearby. Also be aware that many families in India are vegetarian and some homestays only prepare vegetarian food.
There are many ways to arrange to stay in a homestay in India but it’s normally a bit more complicated than simply booking a hotel. Most of my homestays were organised by India Someday who are awesome travel planning experts and as a solo female traveller I felt safe because they knew all the homestays they arranged for me were good. (Global Gallivanting readers get 15% off the trip planning fee with India Someday. Check out my review of India Someday for more details)
Some homestays, like the Friends of Orchha Homestay are so famous they are in the Lonely Planet India Guidebook. The best website to find homestays is on www.homestay.com you can find different homestays all over India and the website has photos, reviews and info about the hosts so you can tell if you might get on with them before you book.
Some homestays are also listed on Booking.com – scroll down through the filters and select homestay under property type.