My recent trip to Barcelona underscored for me the value of points-based home exchange. I was traveling with a friend and just passing through the city for 3 nights. We wanted a place to stay where we wouldn’t need to share a bed, and ideally it would be centrally located so we could maximize our 2 days in the city for sightseeing and eating.
We looked at hotels, but prices are not cheap in Barcelona. We did find a few hotels using SPG points that were decent options, but those points are quite valuable to us, as they transfer to airline miles at a rate far better than other hotel currencies.
I sent out a number of requests on both Love Home Swap and Guest 2 Guest, the two home exchange networks that I use for points-based exchange. Since my wife was staying home for this trip I didn’t have the option of seeking out a simultaneous swap, but even if our flat had been empty I think the odds of finding someone looking for a 3 night swap from Barcelona, on my exact dates, were pretty low. I have a decent stockpile of points from previously hosting guests on these two sites so I certainly didn’t mind spending them for free lodging.
I got a positive response from two of my inquiries offering me a place to stay. Unfortunately one of them was only for 2 of the 3 nights we needed, so we had only one option. Fortunately that option worked out quite well.
The place I found was used by the host as a vacation rental, and when she doesn’t have paying guests she lists it on Love Home Swap to earn swap points. December is low tourist season so it was not surprising that the apartment was available during my stay. And although it was a one bedroom apartment, the living room had a pull-out futon couch so that we could each have our own beds.
The host was very helpful in communicating about logistics, and her husband met us in the apartment when we arrived to show us around the flat. It was a small apartment on the top floor of a very old building. For some reason, the fifth floor was actually seven flights up, in a building without an elevator. So we enjoyed a workout every time we returned to the apartment. The location was perfect for sightseeing but without many tourists in the neighborhood so we could enjoy local cafes and get a flavor of the city.
The unique tile floor was apparently put in by the original (rather famous) architect, and the building looked like it could use some updating. But the apartment itself was perfect for our needs. In addition to being free, one of the best features of home exchange, we had far more space (and more beds) than we would have had in a hotel. Although we wanted to maximize our Barcelona food experience and didn’t need a kitchen, if we had stayed longer I definitely would have cooked some meals.
If you want to read more about points-based exchange check out my three-part series on home exchange points.
If you want to read more about house swapping in Barcelona, check out my review of a longer stay there last year. (Coincidentally, last year’s Barcelona home exchange was just a short distance from this recent swap.)