Friday, 30 October 2009

Couchsurfing in style

Well, I wasn't strangled in my sleep by my couchsurfers. In fact they couldn't have been nicer. Couchsurfing.org is an online hospitality network where you can offer accommodation and/or find somewhere to stay for free, all over the world. You can fully check out people's profiles and references before you decide to stay with them or have them to stay with you and there is no obligation either to host someone who requests, or to offer an exchange with someone who hosts you. This is because it is based on the 'pay it forward' principle, whereby, instead of paying someone back when they do you a favour, you pay it forward to the next person who needs a favour from you. It's a completely different economic principle and is the same way that freecycle and clothes-swapping work.

I joined couchsurfing because I wanted to meet interesting people, and have so far had three couchsurfers to stay, but haven't yet surfed myself. This is not for want of stylish, comfortable places to stay, however. When I first heard about it, the name 'couchsurfing' conjured up a scummy sofa belonging to some crusty type with matted hair (maybe because of the 'surfer' bit?). Couchsurfing is actually a bit of a misnomer, though, as many people offer spare rooms, guest annexes, or even whole apartments FOR FREE. Here are a few I fancy visiting:

For the price of a Eurostar ticket you could stay in this stunning apartment in central Paris's chicest district, Le Marais...



...or perhaps this beautiful houseboat, moored beneath the Eiffel Tower, is more your tasse de the...
 


... Stay in this light-and-airy bedroom in Florence and get access to the swimming pool as well...



... or if you fancy some sunshine now the clocks have gone back, why not take the train down to Morocco and stay in your own room in this very stylish pad in Marrakech?



... Or, for an adventure even further afield, how about your own hut on a working coffee plantation in Kerala, South India?



Finally, if you're REALLY lucky, you might end up staying on a sofabed in sunny Lewes...



... hmm, that one looks rather familiar, now I come to think of it...

In other news, I turn into a drivelling idiot in front of eco-designer and star of a million tv makeover programmes, Oliver Heath. What was that crashing noise, you say? Oh, nothing serious, just me swooning at the thought of those twinkly brown eyes. More on this story later.

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