Sunday, 19 October 2014

Home Stays – Why Travellers Love Them

A bit of ‘homeyness’ isn’t a bad idea when you are away from home, isn’t it? Home stays give you that exclusive quality of travel – the personal touch, the warmth and the real experiences. After staying at quite a few of them, I don’t even want to imagine staying in a characterless hotel room with an indifferent staff.


One of the home stays that I discovered in Sikkim was Daragaon Village Retreat (Darap Village), which is run by a Gurung family. They are simple and sweet people, who ensure that each guest is treated nicely and given the best possible Sikkimese experiences.



The Gurungs were hesitant to host me. 
         
Initially, the hosts at Daragaon Village Retreat thought that their basic, rural and non-luxurious home stay would not please a traveller like me. I told them that my only concern was hygiene and nothing else mattered to me. Even while escorting me to my room, the girl at the retreat said, “It’s not that great.” On the contrary, I was quite happy with my room and the amenities provided. I got just what I needed – nice and clean bed, spacious room, and not to forget a well-equipped bathroom, which was not just clean but had toilet paper as well. I couldn’t believe that a modest village home stay could be so perfect.

Later, when I told Mr Shiva Gurung about how much I liked his home stay, he was deeply pleased. And, he further told me that they trained each and every family member on the etiquettes and the hygiene needed for guests.


So, why should you choose HOME STAYS over other accommodation options -

Home-cooked local food is served.

At home stays, food is usually included in your stay, so you don’t have to worry about paying for your meals separately. The best part is that they serve you their own local cuisine, which is home-cooked and organically produced. At Daragaon, I relished the delicious hand-made pasta made with the local wheat.   


Warm hospitality is the very essence of a home stay.

Who doesn’t like to be treated warmly? Home stays pour out an extra dose of hospitality upon their guests. However, they don’t get over-friendly with any guest. They maintain the necessary distance. No guest’s privacy is disturbed in any manner. You are free to do anything and relax at your own pace. There is genial friendliness, respect and care that you can expect from your home-stay hosts.


There is scope for insightful conversations.

A travel experience becomes richer with conversations. That’s exactly what you get at home stays. Since your hosts are the locals of that place, they tend to share a lot of interesting stuff about their culture and the general way of life.


Better cleanliness is maintained.

As I mentioned earlier, my room and the bathroom were so well arranged at Daragaon that I couldn’t have asked for more. Home stays maintain a high level of cleanliness, and if in case there is something that you need according to your own preference, they are always ready to do the needful.


Home stays help you connect with the place deeply.

Staying at a home stay gives a feeling of being hosted by a local, which instantly connects you with the place. Even if you just relax or take a stroll in the lawn, you get to absorb so much.   


You can have authentic experiences.

It’s my favourite part. At Daragaon, they arrange bonfires and other rural activities for guests, such as fishing, milking the cows, etc. I enjoyed their local beverage Tongba, which is made from fermented millets. It is a protein-rich drink and can hit you if had too much!



Home stays are safe.

Lastly, you can be rest assured that you are staying with a family. You can interact with the lady of the house, see how she cooks, eat with the family and sleep in peace knowing that your safety is also your hosts’ concern.

Would you prefer home stays over hotels? Is Daragaon Village Retreat your kind of a place to stay?
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19 comments:

  1. great post. I've never had a pre-arranged homestay, but I have had quite a few that happened by chance. The best way to connect with where you are!

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    1. Oh, getting to stay at a local's home by chance is even better! :) I wish I get to experience that! Yes, home stays connect you to the place deeply.

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  2. Wow it's really amazing how a little village has such a wonderful and hygienic homestay. The best thing about homestay is one gets to experience local cuisines without the fear of catching some stomach issues. Since I Am a foodie I love these places.

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    1. Yup! Home stays maintain hygiene and serve delicious local cuisine. I think every traveller should experience staying in a home stay.

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  3. gorgeous. been doing homestays in coorg and loving it so far

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    1. Home stays in Coorg! Great. I hope to make it there in December.

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  4. Some of my best travel experiences have been because of great home stays. I agree that they give a much more authentic and local experience than staying in a hotel. During my travels to Cuba, home stays were the cheapest option. I stayed with families all throughout the country and it made those trips some of the most memorable of my life. And I love the fact that they usually cook for you. It's amazing having home-cooked local food :)

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    1. So true, Justine! :) Home stays give you that comfy feeling that hits the right note. Yes, home-cooked meal is the best thing about it.

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  5. Lovely! Nobody would ant to leave such home stays.

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  6. I introduced a friend of mine to home stays and pensions in Europe, and he immediately decided he would search them out wherever he travelled. When they're good, they're really good - thanks for sharing :)

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    1. Yup, when they are good, they are really good. Home stays are in!

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  7. These are beautiful Renuka. Thanks for maintaing the list...

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  8. woowwww!!!! its amazing to see this homestay... god bless you and your efforts shive sir

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  9. It was our second marriage anniversary, before the stated month approached I started finalize the list of best places we want be during our anniversary. In my hubby's mind Andaman was playing hide and seek game and for me I wanted to take him the India' romantic city Udaipur, since my days in Udaipur I always be in the city with him. After so many discussions we both zeroed down withe city of Western most India. Everything was supposed to finalized from hotels to train tickets to flight tickets and then also particular budget set down for my extra shopping !!! We were all set for our holiday to Udaipur and one fine morning some thing strike my mind .. I was like why a western city that too far for us where we are sitting the remotest north -eastern part of the country. Why if we could explore to a place nearby ?? why not Sikkim. why not the some offbeat places of this small state of India ?? why not some less explored place rather then normal touristy place like Gangtok ?? Hubby was quite apprehensive... Offbeat destinations ?? home stays ?? will it be that safe ?? did you have advance knowledge ?? information about it?? we will be traveling as a couple right ? For him offbeat destinations, home stays, nature trail , hiking are only words .. he never experienced with all these; only because his genera and his work profile was totally different that what I do.

    I asked him to get relax..like always it was me who decide where else we would be going, booking hotels tickets etc. He only takes the headache of money thing !

    I googled few home stays of Sikkim .. several pops out. Somehow I have finalized Daragaon Retreat and I wanted to know more about the places nearby so I had spent a good amount of time on internet about its whereabouts. I called my boss Piran Elavia and mobile Google about North-East. He said you can go its a nice village name Darap & Daragaon Home retreat is in Darap. I'll infrom Shiva too ; the manager over there. I was happy all set for our trip to Darap.

    Once we reach after the 4/5 hours journey on the bumpy road we were completely awestruck ! Especially my husband... he was more then happy ..It was a cold silly afternoon of month of January, I know how he hates winter and that too in some hilly areas but to my surprise instead of getting into the bed he started exploring the area nearby and the compound of the home stay itself.

    The three days of our staying was some kinds experience. While we were on our way to the hike Rimby River he kept saying once we are going back we will go for a soft trek or hike every month to nearby places...

    Our anniversary celebrated by the village kids and Shiva's family. The homemade food and warmness and generosity we received from his family is just wonderful.

    He was happy .. content ..relax and looking at him I felt I may gift him best anniversary gift ... he didn't say a formal thank you ..but I cloud sense his emotions.

    Our experience in Darap was beyond word, I have been to many home stays in North-East and many offbeat destinations on my given assignment but those were always work related but the happiness I saw on my husband face was something worth I desire. After all you fell good when the person you care much is happy !!

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    1. Nice to know about your experience, Indrani. :-) I'm glad that you could take your husband to such a beautiful place. Darap village retreat is really a lovely home stay.

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  10. Great to hear about this home stay Shiva da if my Clint plan for homstay I will surely contact you .

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