Swap a house or bor­row a bed

Con­vent and monastery stays are all the rage de­spite, in most cases, rea­son­ably early cur­fews

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

WITH our cur­rency so strong and more trav­ellers up­grad­ing to the once seem­ingly unattain­able five-star realm, par­tic­u­larly in Europe, it’s in­ter­est­ing that hous­eswap­ping is on the in­crease. Home­Ex­change.com re­ports a 9 per cent in­crease for Septem­ber com­pared with the cor­re­spond­ing month last year.

Ed Kushins, who founded the com­pany in 1992, says France is among the most peren­ni­ally pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions in Europe, at­tract­ing more in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors this year than in 2011, ‘‘but with a sig­nif­i­cant change in their ac­com­mo­da­tion choices [in­clud­ing] a 5.5 per cent growth [in home swaps]’’.

Ex­chang­ing res­i­dences re­quires plan­ning and pur- pose, but if you are headed to Bri­tain or con­ti­nen­tal Europe in the next few months and want some­thing out of the main­stream con­sider Bri­tain’s Land­mark Trust (land­mark­trust.org.uk), which of­fers re­stored her­itage digs and the oc­ca­sional folly, from fer­ry­men’s cot­tages to wa­ter tow­ers.

The Ir­ish Land­mark Trust (irish­land­mark.com) has about 20 prop­er­ties on its books, in­clud­ing a ‘‘minia­ture me­dieval cas­tle’’ in County Cork and light­keep­ers’ houses by Belfast Lough. In Por­tu­gal, there’s a net­work of about 45 rus­tic pou­sadas (pou­sadas.pt), typ­i­cally in build­ings of ar­chi­tec­tural merit, while Spain has a wide spread of paradores (paradores-spain.com), which give a sim­i­lar sense of place and his­tory.

In Italy, con­vent and monastery stays are all the rage (monasterys­tays.com) de­spite, in most cases, rea­son­ably early cur­fews and min­i­mum two-night stays. A good re­source for such ac­com­mo­da­tion across Europe is the reg­u­larly updated Good Night & God Bless guide­book by Tr­ish Clark (good­nigh­tand­god­b­less.com).

Back at Home­Ex­change.com, ‘‘a young [Paris] fam­ily seek­ing hot weather and beaches [ in Aus­tralia] in Jan­uary-Fe­bru­ary is will­ing to swap their apart­ment in a non-si­mul­ta­ne­ous ex­change’’. Sounds just the ticket.

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