vlog 2 | how to stay in luxury accommodation in Iceland on a budget

Here’s how you can stay in this luxury home in Iceland for just £27 a night.

With Iceland not being known as a ‘budget destination’, we were quite ready to spend our week traversing the ring road in pretty basic accommodation.

So imagine James’ face when we turned up here:

It is genuinely one of the most beautiful places I have ever stayed in.

But a place like this is likely to set you back hundreds of pounds a night, right?

Wrong.

Here slides in one of my favourite websites: Love Home Swap.

Love Home Swap is what it sounds like – a website that allows you to swap your home with other people across the globe.

Yet, if like me, you think ‘who in their right mind would swap their luxury pad for my gaff?’ then don’t be put off just yet, because they offer an alternative service that for me, has worked an absolute treat.

It’s called a points swap. Quite simply, instead of swapping our home, we swapped points to stay at this beautiful cabin in Iceland.

So how do I get points?

On joining the website, you’ll be allocated points. At the time of writing, these are the current rates:

Lite – 0 points
Standard – 200 points
Premium – 500 points

With my refer a friend link, you get 25% off your first year which brings the Premium membership to £9 a month. You do have to pay in full so this will set you back £108.

Whilst this can feel like a lot, let’s take the Icelandic home of DREAMS you’ve seen above as an example.

On Love Home Swap, it’s 220 points a night meaning that with the Premium membership, you can ‘afford’ to stay there for two nights.

Two nights = 440 points
Premium membership = £108

Therefore, the nightly price would equal £54 costing just £27 each if two of you were staying.

It’s worth saying that this place sleeps SIX (two doubles and two single beds), so if you were heading there with a group, it would be just £9 a night each.

Absolute madness.

Do I have to add my home when signing up?

Yes you do! The crux of this website is swapping your home with someone else, yet the points swap allows you to get started without having someone come and stay at your place.

Do I have to pay up before I’ve booked the place?

You do have to sign up before you can confirm a home but you will get a two week free trial when you sign up that allows you to message people and get something in place before you spend your money.

This is exactly what I did when I used Love Home Swap for the first time for a trip to New York. And look where we ended up!

How likely is it that we’ll find a place?

It depends on where you’re going. Big cities and popular tourist destinations will tend to have more options, but a lot of it does come down to whether the owner has availability, whether they’re wanting to do a points swap (some don’t offer this) and whether you have enough points!

I found it really difficult to find a place in New York and it took me four weeks (I had a month free trial) to bag my place. However with Iceland, I actually found four different places that would accept my points, so it all just depends!

Whatever you find, just make sure you put a reminder in to cancel your membership before your trial is up so that it doesn’t end up costing you a thing.

From my own experience, Love Home Swap’s customer service is brilliant and they were in constant contact with my during my free trial to see if they could help.

How easy is it to cancel?

You’re in touch with a real person by email and so cancelling would be very straightforward if that’s what you needed to do. You can also reach them by phone.

What tips would you give for finding a swap?

Love Home Swap is a community. Whilst they do now have some places that allow you to book ‘instantly’, this isn’t like booking a place on Booking.com or Airbnb. These are largely people’s homes and therefore you may have to wait a little longer for a response and you can’t demand services in the same way that you could with a hotel.

Also, you book homes through messages so my top tip would be to be personable and warm. Tell your potential hostees about yourself. Why are you visiting the area? What are you excited about? What do you like about their home?

If they’ve got five different people offering the same deal, what would make them choose you over the others?

Also, especially if you sign up for the Premium service, you get access to the site’s dedicated ‘Swap Team’ who can find places that match your wants. Use this! It’s their job to help and it will make your search so much easier.

Do you offer a discount?

Why YES I DO cheers for asking pal 🤣 Love Home Swap have a refer a friend scheme that’s open to all their members which gives mates 25% off the prices online. This is genuinely the cheapest way for you to sign up:

2 weeks free trial and 25% off

What do I get in return? 3 months free membership! Cheers lads.

Are you getting paid to tell me all this?

No. I’ve been a full paying member of Love Home Swap for two years and will continue paying whether people use my link or not. In my second year I paid £180 for my standard membership and having already stayed four nights in Napa and two nights in Iceland, it’s more than paid for itself already.

I’ve used all my points up, what do I do now?

I would absolutely recommend getting involved with the Love Home Swap community and accepting points swaps of your own! We’ve had a few people stay at our place when we were away and the points we’ve earned have allowed us to continue our cheap travels.

I don’t fancy home swapping – can I still do an Icelandic road trip for a similar price?

Absolutely. I already had two guesthouses lined up if Love Home Swap didn’t work out.

The first was Centric Guesthouse in Reykjavik .

£33.50 a night each for a double room with private bathroom.

We would have then got on the road first thing in the morning and made our way over to do the Golden Circle.

The second night would have been staying properly nestled into the Golden Circle route in Flagbjarnarholt (catchy) at Elin Guesthouse.

£30 a night each with a shared bathroom, but this property had an outdoor hot tub!

Sure, they’re not as fancy as where we ended up but both are clean and highly rated. They also have access to a shared kitchen meaning that you can really keep costs down when you’re on the road.

Coming up, we’ll be staying in a similar guesthouse so check back for what we made of it!


Catch up on the rest of the road trip:

Day 1Arriving in Iceland, supermarket prices and the 6 nights for £600 challenge
Day 2you’re reading this now!
Day 3Waterfalls, glaciers and black sand beaches on Iceland’s stunning south coast
Day 4 – Escaping the tourists on Iceland’s beautiful Eastern coastal roads

the millennials kyoto | full review with pictures

There’s nothing more quintessentially Japanese than a capsule hotel. Yet, shuffling your body into a pod the size of a portaloo is not for everybody.

And that’s where The Millennials comes in.

With a room measuring in at 3 square metres, it may not be enough room to swing a cat, yet its floor to ceiling height does mean that you’ll be able to get through a full rendition of the YMCA before bedtime (you mean you don’t do that before a night’s kip??!?).

Your Key

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Before we get stuck in, it’s worth explaining that you’ll operate most things at the hotel with your very own iPod touch (how very 2007). Not only is it your key, but it’s also your light switch, bed shuffler and alarm clock.

The Pods

After you’ve checked in, you’ll use your key to scan your way onto your designated floor – you can choose to stay with just men, just women or a mix (you don’t always get that last option in Japanese capsule hotels).

The vibes when you enter are very Malmaison meets Big Yellow Self Storage. It’s also dark. The exterior windows are blacked out, but the warm glow from each of the pods stop it from feeling like you’re about to take part in a sordid, x-rated version of Storage Hunters.

The Bed

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Next, you’ll arrive at your pod (it will have your ‘number’ on top) and find the bed in ‘sofa mode’. Squeezed in between each wall is a queen sized mattress but steady on fellas – THIS IS A NO SHARING ZONE. That bad boy is all yours. But to enjoy it to its fullest, you’d best straighten that bad boy out.

Oh yes. IT’S TIME TO USE THE IPOD!

Following a couple of prods, you’ll not only be able to turn the lights on and off, but watch in awe as the mattress slowly pans out to fill the entire size of the pod. I’d recommend doing it whilst you’re sat on it to give yourself that whole ‘going in for an MRI scan’ vibe without having to, you know, go in for an MRI scan.

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Your key also gives you the option to set an alarm that not only dims up the light for you, but can also lift the bed too. For snoozers, there’s even a setting that rises in increments meaning that in 10 whole minutes, you’ll finally be upright. Absolute genius.

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Other things worth noting about the pod are that it’s got a slide out storage rack (big enough for a large suitcase), mirror and a helpful shelf with 2 plug points above the bed.

Your iPod touch will plug into a charger provided for you next to your bed.

On your bed when you arrive will be:

  • towel
  • slippers
  • toiletries bag (earplugs, cotton wool, toothbrush and hairbrush)

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You can also hire pyjamas for 300 yen a pop (that’s about £2.20).

The Bathrooms

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You may get one whole pod to yourself but don’t get excited about a personal bidet. Instead, you’ll have a shared bathroom which is… Well, okay fine. It’s pretty damn nice actually. There’s hairdryers, a washer and dryer, hand soaps, hand creams, extra towels… The showers are also really decent with rainfall heads, shampoo and body wash. There’s also space to dress and undress behind your own locked door so you can make sure you don’t go flashing your bits to Kazimo from pod A19.

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The toilets, too, are kitted out really nicely and yes, the loos are electronic. Bum spritz, anyone?

The Lounge and Kitchen

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You know when you see a picture on a booking website and you’re like ‘yeah, yeah, someone’s had photoshop out here’ well DAMN. The lounge looks proper legit in real life as well. We’re talking serious boutique hotel vibes.

The kitchen has a whole host of contraptions (rice cooker, blender, mincer…) for you to use. There’s also a hob for cooking and a fridge to keep food fresh (when I say food, I obviously mean prosecco).

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Now, with shared kitchen spaces I’m always a bit worried that there will be one Lazy Lorraine who doesn’t pull her weight and ruins it for EVERYONE yet the place was immaculate during our 2 night stay. It almost felt like everyone couldn’t quite believe their luck with the place and therefore were refusing to defy the hotel gods by leaving an empty mug out.

Extras

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Theres free decent Wifi, irons for lending and bikes for renting. There’s even a ‘roof terrace’ (don’t get excited, there’s no view) if you need a bit of fresh air without having to leave.

However, the best extra has got to be the daily free beer hour.

YES YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT.

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Between 5:30pm – 6:30pm every single day, the staff wheel out a ‘do it yourself’ beer pump and it’s a help yourself affair.

If you’re thinking, ‘I’ll just rock up with some empty bottles and make the most of this thang’ then you’re probably going to get kneecapped. (I managed three glasses each night which I feel is getting to the limits of taking the piss).

Everyone was pretty respectful and it was a great chance to meet other people staying at The Millennials. In fact, that’s probably the reason they do it. That and the fact that they probably don’t have a licence which means that bringing a couple of beers or a bottle of wine back of an evening to enjoy is totally fine to do as well. WINNER.

Breakfast

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When booking, you may also notice that breakfast is included but don’t get too excited. It’s a fairly basic offering of a few breads and pastries. To the extent that we didn’t take it up on the second morning (more time for sleep) but if you’re on a budget, hell, it is free!

Cost

We stayed at The Millennials in Kyoto bang smack in the middle of Easter and Cherry Blossom Season. I may also have left booking quite late (what a plonker) and so the pods ended up costing us £65 a night each – including all taxes and fees. However, I have found the pods for as a little as £18 a night each and have done so on several occasions. Therefore, my tip would definitely be to BOOK EARLY!

£18 is unreal value and you could probably make that back in beer alone! Even at £65 a night each, I’d say it was definitely worth it as in comparison to other hotels at that time it was 1) cheaper and 2) so much nicer!

Booking

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As there were two of us, I booked the ‘adjoining smart capsule – mixed’ via Booking.com. This means that they’ll place you either next door or opposite one another (contrary to the photo above, we were actually opposite one another).

We were on the fourth floor and in pods A14 and A13. They felt really private however you are next to the showers and therefore if you’re a light sleeper, the sound of the door rolling back and forth may wake you in the morning.

The most private (and quiet!) would definitely be A08, A09 and A10 as you’re by the fire exit there meaning no through fare and off the main corridor. So why  not email master@themillennials.jp and request them!

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There’s also the option of having a pod with a projection screen (FANCY) for a couple of quid more.

Would I stay again?

Abso-bloody-lutely. I feel like I’m going a little overkill here but I’d genuinely say it’s one of the best places I’ve ever stayed in. I really expected it to be a bit gimmicky and was blown away with the high standard of features and service.

Since our stay in Kyoto, they’ve also opened a branch in Shibuya, Tokyo and are planning to open even more. So here’s hoping there will be even more to choose from in the near future. Hurrah!

You can also watch the video of my stay here.