Chateau, beach house or penthouse? Why home-swaps are the new holidays

·4 min read
Do you fancy swapping for a castle? (

How we all long for a break as the pandemic rolls on. But while some have bitten the bullet and forked out for flights, hotels and transport - as well as very pricy COVID tests - others have been saving their money, aware that the job market is uncertain and Christmas is looming.

There is a solution though, which can save families a fortune and means they can live like locals, without the strictures of hotel breakfast times or a self-catering villa with two blunt knives and a bent tin opener serving as 'kitchen equipment.'

Home-swapping is fast becoming the hottest new trend, as objections rise to the 'AirB&B-ification' of popular tourism cities such as Edinburgh, and some councils look to legislate against an excess of second properties. 

Read more: October half term getaway guide: The hottest staycations and jet-set holidays to book now

Swapping homes means you can visit somewhere you've always wanted to go for nothing - and you may get a dog, a car and hard-won insider local knowledge thrown in too. 

Of course, your own home has to be in a desirable location, and in visitor-worthy condition. If so, there are houseboats, castle, city penthouses and beach-side shacks on offer.

Happy smiling family with daughters in the car with sea background. Portrait of a smiling family with children at beach in the car. Holiday and travel concept
Where will you go next time? (Getty Images)

If so, according to leading global home-swap company Love Home Swap, the practise could save consumers £65,200 on holidays over a 20-year period*. 

Their recent report, which dubs home-swapping 'the future of travel' suggests that 20% think it would be a cost-effective way to explore a new area without paying for accommodation, 15% find the idea intriguing, and 13% say it would be an exciting way to try somewhere completely different.

Read more: UK Covid travel: Which countries are on the red list?

The site divides stays into classic swaps - a direct property exchange - and 'points' swaps, which allow users to earn points for hosting and 'spend' the points when they travel. 

"If you want a swap to Paris, but the owner of your dream home has just visited your city, they can host you for Points instead. With the Points you give them, they can book their trip to Bali."

Watch: Taking advantage of home swapping

The site charges for points swaps. and gives thorough advice on how to get swap-ready. 

"Before agreeing a swap, it’s always a good idea to discuss your cleaning expectations, as someone else’s version of clean may not be yours," they warn.

"It’s also useful to confirm whether you are expecting to receive a cleaning fee or vice versa, as this will need to be factored into the total cost of the home swap."

Expectations such as feeding gerbils or watering plants must be discussed, too - as well as remembering to leave the wi-fi password and organising bill payments if you're staying more than a few days.

If you like the idea, and you live somewhere cool, cute or classy, here's some of the amazing places on offer. Swap you. 

The French Chateau (Love Home Swap)

This French chateau has 36 hectares of grounds and sleeps 12. In between Bordeaux and Toulouse, it offers 18th century-style decoration, marble bathrooms, wooden panelling and open fires, along with a heated pool and a swimming lake in the grounds. Whether they will swap for your 3-bed semi is another matter....

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The converted chapel. (Love Home Swap)

This recently converted 1866 chapel with wonderful views is in a picturesque village in the Peak District National Park. It sleeps five with two bathrooms and is tastefully decorated across the huge open plan living space and enormous country-style kitchen. 

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The country cabin (Love Home Swap)

This award-winning Colorado retreat sleeps 10 in seven bedrooms. It has views of the mountains, a vast outside dining area, a deck to relax and gaze over the fields, and the interior is cosy, with panelled rooms, and a cottage-chic vibe. 

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The Brazilian beach bungalow (Love Home Swap)

This amazing Brazilian beach bungalow ticks all the tropical getaway boxes. Crisp white linens, billowing drapes, day beds and direct access to the beach make this an unforgettable swap. It sleeps six and has two luxury-hotel style bathrooms, too. 

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The modern masterpiece (Love Home Swap)

Oh, just a stunning modern build on a private island in Seattle. This beach-front home is accessible by ferry, and sleeps eight. There are sweeping views across the water, glass walls to maximise the view and you're surrounded by nature. 

Watch: Home swapping is cheaper alternative to hotels, Airbnb

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