Accomodation is always an important issue when travelling. For years I've been a huge Couch Surfing enthusiast, choosing the real local experience over the comfort. It was never about the money but about great adventures. Many amazing friendships were made then (and last until now), some of my best travel memories came with Couch Surfing and it definitely helped me to fall in love with off the beaten path travel and connecting with local people. But with time I became kind of tired of all the great CS madness and often stayed in hostels instead. I didn't have to depend on someone's schedule while hostels also gave me the possibility to meet lots of people. But in this case they were fellow travellers. And it was great in a way, I made some friends there too but I kind of miss the local experience that always came with CS.
So for my stay in Toronto I've decided to try something now, something that connects both the local experience of CS and the independence of the hostel. I've booked myself a room via Wimdu. This fairly new platform was founded 2 years ago but I've been hearing about it from people ever since. Just like with CS, it took me a while to browse through various properties available before I've decided where I wanna stay. I chose Pauline's house because of the good location, good reviews and my intuition. There were lots of different places to rent in Toronto, from private rooms to fancy apartments and I'm sure everyone would find something good for themselves. I just felt I'd be good in Elliott House.
The whole reservation process on Wimdu's website is easy. After creating an account (standard procedure) you're free to book the property you're interested in. However once you click "book" you need to wait for the confirmation from your host if the date and the room/flat you requested in available. In my case the response came very quickly, still on the same day. What I didn't like was that my card was charged by Wimdu right away with the full price, unlike on other booking platforms when you pay upon arrival. But I read that it's for safety reasons - if something is wrong with the accomodation you booked (it doesn't meat the requirements, it turns out to be booked up etc) Wimdu can move you easily to another place. That explanation makes some sense.
After my reservation was confirmed I got a lovely email from Pauline with all the directions how to get to her place so I could plan ahead everything. Few days before arrival I got another email - it turned out the room I booked initially is occupied by another long-term guest. I was offered another room instead - a bigger one - and I didn't have to pay extra. But of course if I wanted to I could have stayed in the room I booked (then the other guest would have been moved to the bigger room), it was all up to me. Since I'm a really easy goign person I didn't mind the change at all.
I arrived to Toronto late in the evening, after the whole day of travelling from Baie St. Paul. Despite the late hours Pauline was waiting for me to welcome me in her house and show me around. The room was really spacious and beautiful. It was a little bit dark but I didn't mind that at all - it turned out to be quite perfect when I was comming back exhausted after busy days exploring Toronto and the room was pleasantly cool. There was a welcome basket with snacks and drinks too - so nice and thoughtful! I also got my own pair of keyes so I wouldn't have needed to depend on the owners.
Pauline's house was a large Victorian building with over 100 years of history. Downstairs was kitchen, dining room (where the included breakfast was served) and living room - I could easily use all of these places whenever I wanted to and even when Pauline or her family members were around they didn't make me feel like an unwelcomed guest - quite the contrary. They all were extremely nice, polite and chatty. All the other rooms to rent (four) were occupied, I met a nice Swiss guy and an Austrian girl there. Hosts lived in the basement so didn't disturb guests all that much. I was there in the time of Orthodox Easter and the celebrations for friends and family took place at Pauline's. I was invited to them as well but didn't want to bother guest too much so I didn't join them.
When I was leaving my flight wasn't to depart until late in the evening. Even if check out time was at 11am Pauline let me use the room until I leave. I could still have taken a nap in the afternoon if I wanted to etc. All in all my time in Elliott House was really lovely and exactly what I expected from Wimdu, the mix of independence and local experience. I think in future that's the kind of accomodation I might book during my travels.
Where do you stay when travelling?
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