By Jerry Rosenberg, Feature Writer cityXtraMagazine.com
On a recent trip to London, I had the pleasure of meeting, Ken Russell, the owner and CEO of Home Around the World, the leading gay home swap site. Based in London, with members in over 30 countries who trade their homes as an alternative to staying in expensive and impersonal hotel rooms.
I joined this incredible website, purely by the luck of the draw! We had just bought an apartment in Manhattan, near Columbus Circle, in the Hell’s kitchen neighborhood, as an additional home, and thought this would be a wonderful property to exchange. Although there are many mainstream home swapping sites on the Internet I wondered if there was one catering to the LGBT community. I googled ‘gay home exchange’ and discovered Home Around the World. I did a little research and realized that it was a website that I would love to be a part of.
Shortly after joining, I had the opportunity to come to London for the opening of “Beautiful’, the Carole King musical, so I started sending out inquiries to London members. I knew January would be a hard month to arrange a home swap; however I was delighted to find that members were only too willing to offer me a hospitality exchange in their home.
I had decisions to make because I had three wonderful offers! I chose Carl, in Kings Cross, on the Regent’s Canal. Carl was a wonderful host, and although it wasn’t expected, he took me out, and introduced me to his friends that added a new dimension to my London vacation. We still keep in touch and we always have dinner whenever I am in London. I know I've made a wonderful new friend for life!
While in London I also got together with the other two couples who had offered to host me. One couple, Edward and David, invited me to afternoon tea and to see their lovely town home so that I would have the opportunity meet them as a prelude to staying with them in the future. We became immediate friends, and I not only have I stayed with them twice in London, I've also visited them in their summer home, in France! We are friends for life!
The second couple, Tim and William, were very gracious and kind. I met Tim, and spent a lovely afternoon with him and we became pen pals. I have met so many great people, through Tim, in London and also in Rome.
I have also traded in Paris, Glasgow and Chicago, and have pending trades in, San Francisco, Melbourne, Australia, San Diego, and in Spain.
I have recommended HATW to so many friends, gay and gay friendly, with beautiful homes around the world, because I feel that when you travel, if you're able to swap homes, or do a hospitality exchange, you are always going to meet new and interesting people. And the bonus is that your money goes so much further when you're not paying for a hotel and all the taxes that are added to it.
Over the years, Home around the World has proven time and time again to be a wonderful network of making friendships all over the world, while saving money on accommodation costs. I salute Ken Russell for starting and maintaining Home Around The World, so successfully, for so many years. www.homearoundtheworld.com