Luxury travel for less

How to plan an affordable luxury holiday

Thanks to the sharing economy, you may be able to book your dream holiday for less. We explain how.

If you’re dreaming of a luxury holiday, but don’t want to spend a fortune, you could still get a 5-star experience through the sharing economy.

Sharing websites and apps, like Airbnb , enable peer-to-peer renting of goods and services, and have revolutionised the way we travel. In the UK, the sharing economy is now worth £500m, and this is expected to rise to £9bn in less than 10 years 1.

Until now, the sharing economy has been associated with cutting costs, but now there are also plenty of luxury peer-to-peer options available.

Accommodation

Sites where owners can rent their empty living space to holidaymakers are on the rise. One of these sites is Airbnb, which has more than 2 million listings worldwide 2. Indeed, there are now more beds available to let through Airbnb than there are through any of the world’s biggest hotel chains 3.

You can stay in a Manhattan apartment with high ceilings, chandeliers and modern art, or even rent your own private tropical island off the coast of Belize in Central America – all for less that you might expect. For the more remote locations though, make sure you factor in the cost of travelling too.

For travellers who enjoy the service element of a hotel but are looking for a luxury ‘home away from home’ experience in an enviable location, sites like onefinestay are another option 4.

 

With it, you can choose a pre-inspected and professionally cleaned property in London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris or Rome. You’ll be welcomed by a representative and given a smartphone on arrival with free data and local calls to use throughout your trip.

Other sharing economy sites, such as LoveHomeSwap , let you swap homes directly with other users. There are plenty of 5-star listings available, include a restored farmhouse with private pool overlooking the Tuscan countryside 5 and an authentic gothic chateau in northern France 6.

 

Debbie Wosskow the owner of LoveHomeSwap, says: ‘I had the idea for LoveHomeSwap when I had a particularly cramped yet very expensive holiday in St Lucia that didn’t work for us as a young family. I realised I’d spent lots of money on my home in London that was sitting empty – there had to be a way to make the most of the assets I own when I go on holiday.’

LoveHomeSwap enables you to accrue ‘Swap Points’ if another member stays in your home but you don’t stay in theirs. Points can then be used to stay at other member’s homes in the future. You set your own value, starting at 50 Swap Points per night and going up to 300, increasing by 50 Swap Points each time. Membership fees for LoveHomeSwap apply.

Transport

Once your accommodation’s booked, services like PrivateFly  promise to help you arrive in style.

Users can book seats on the empty leg flights of private jets, when aircraft are being moved into position for the next booked flight. If you’re willing to be flexible, you can book seats up to 75% less than the usual charter price 7. Tickets often cost more than you would pay for a standard flight, but it gets more affordable if you can share the bill with friends or family.

You could also have an executive car waiting for you at the airport with Uber. The app connects passengers with nearby drivers and is available in hundreds of cities across the globe. Fares are calculated using a base fare, combined with the time taken and distance travelled 8.

Alternatively, you can enjoy the luxury of parking near the airport or railway station for considerably less than you’d pay in a car park using sites such as JustPark . It specialises in pre-bookable parking, connecting drivers in search of parking spaces with anyone who has a space available either on a private driveway, car park, church or school 9.

 

Before you book

Remember to do your research. Most peer-to-peer websites provide profiles of the owner, along with reviews left by previous users and references.

Also, make sure you understand all the costs involved and the cancellation policy, which may vary from listing to listing even on the same website. If you’re unclear about any of the details, contact the owner or the website directly.

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