While many people are happy to rent out their properties on accommodation platforms, others are are wary of strangers staying at their beloved abodes. A new Hong Kong-based home rental site for luxury holiday homes that lets you book from friends-of-friends worldwide could be the answer, and this is the premise behind Stay One Degree.
Stay One Degree was founded by friends, Thomas Bennett and Jorge Munoz, who were frequent travellers and passionate about their own homes. The idea came from their own rental experiences, which frequently left them frustrated and disappointed with uninspiring homes at over-inflated prices. Meanwhile, beautiful homes within their social network lay empty and underutilised.
They were tired of staying in soulless hotels while they travelled, but while they were away, their own homes sat empty for many weeks of the year as they were nervous of renting to total strangers. “In addition to having bad experiences renting homes, we also had an awful experience renting out our own home to guests, after which we never rented it again,” Thomas tells Lonely Planet. “As a result, we wanted to find a solution that allowed us to rent only to and from trusted connections. Staying at friends’ houses was always a different experience. They felt like homes.”
When they next embarked on their next holidays, including one long trip to New Zealand, Thomas and Jorge decided to test a new concept. They would rent only from people they knew and trusted. Ahead of the trips, they reconnected with friends with beautiful homes, chatted over emails, coffees and lunches, and received recommendations and introductions to mutual friends.
“The experience was eye-opening,” they say. “Even speaking to strangers introduced by mutual friends was different. You had been “vouched for” and suddenly there was an implicit bond of trust.” In each location, their friends gave them a local’s perspective on the best places to eat and drink, must-see sights and trusted babysitters, etc.
This experience inspired the establishment of Stay One Degree, an accommodation platform for luxury holiday homes that allows you to connect and rent from people you trust all over the world. All the properties are only leased to friends or friends of friends, putting users, at most, one degree away from someone they trust, and offering a reassurance that the homes will be treated with respect. Prospective renters can chat and discover all the local knowledge and passion for their homes that your friends have to share.
Thomas says that the reaction since the service publicly launched at the start of the year has been amazing. Stay One Degree now has over 1000 homes and members in over 50 countries, and further information is available here.