We discovered the beauty of couchsurfing early last year, but what’s it all about?
On www.couchsurfing.com you will find a community of people from all around the world who are willing to host travelers free of charge. The “couch” itself varies greatly as some hosts will offer you a nice bed in a private room, other might give you a mattress to sleep on in the living room and some might stick to the website’s name and let you crash on their couch. The only agenda for hosting is to meet people, enjoy their company and make friends from all over, which often broadens your view of the world. We experienced our most memorable and educating travels while staying with the locals rather then at a hotel.
Before we knew about couchsurfing we used to travel mostly through Airbnb, a website that also offers accommodation with locals, but unlike couchsurfing you will have to pay a nightly fee. Therefore, business often gets mixed with pleasure, so to our opinion the atmosphere isn’t as relaxed and loose when you hang out with your host when no money is in the equation. However your accommodation usually involves a nice bed and fresh linens which you cannot always assume in couchsurfing.
Hiking with our couchsurfing host in Muscat, Oman
The couchsurfing community is also about paying it forward. Although we have often been guests during our travels, we also try to host as much as we can at our own home in Iceland. This is not a prerequisite but highly appreciated since the community wouldn’t be possible without the welcoming hosts. Since 2010, we have used both couchsurfing and airbnb on our travels abroad and for hosting back in Iceland. Our experience has almost always been positive…..
SO lets give you an example of couchsurfing in Dubai.
Why you should do Couchsurfing in Dubai
Dubai is the listed as one of the most expensive cities in the world, and that includes the hotels, making it difficult for students or middle class people to travel there on budget. However there are many ways to make your stay affordable and one of them is skipping the cost of a hotel room which is rarely under 100$ a night!
There are more then 13 thousand hosts listed on couchsurfing in Dubai, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find a suitable host. To increase your chance of finding a host its best to plan ahead and send inquires at least a few days or weeks in advance to as many hosts as possible. You can limit your searching options to gender, login activity, positive references or even type of accommodation (private room, shared room, couch etc.).
What makes couchsurfing in Dubai unique is the chance of being hosted in a very high class apartments. It’s not unusual to be hosted in tall skyscrapers with infinity pools and private gyms for use, a rare find in other cities.
Infinity pool in Burj Khalifa
Dubai is built along the costal line, making distances problematic for travellers without a car. Most likely your Dubai-host will have a car (as everyone does in Dubai.) From our experience your host will be more then happy to drive you around and show you what the city has to offer. Some might even offer their spare car for private use!
We stayed with 5 different hosts in Dubai, each stay more different then the other. Most of the couchsurfing hosts were expats looking for some company or just willing to help fellow travellers. Our accommodation was usually quite luxurious and sometimes comparable to a five star hotel. For instance our first host invited us to stay in his apartment in the Cayan Twisting Tower with a private room and bathroom. The view on the 47th floor over the Dubai Marina was spectacular.
Beautiful apartment in Cayan Twisting Tower
The View from the Apartment
I think one of our highlights of couchsurfing is when a host invited us his private apartment in the highest building in the world, Burj Khalifa! It was a strange feeling walking past all the Ferraris and golden Lamborghinis, past all the Armani suited security staff into this amazing building, wearing casual shorts and a wife-beater.
The apartment was in a typical bachelor style with big windows and modern furnitures. The owner doesn’t even live in the apartment (he lives in his huge beach house with his 5 servants), but instead offers couchsurfers to stay there from time to time! We enjoyed every moment standing by the bright windows looking at the amazing view and the fountain shows in the evening.
It was really interesting meeting the owner of the apartment. Apparently he was highly ranked in a clothing manufacturing company for all the well known brands (Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Louis Vuitton etc.) with 25 thousand employees under his command. While we were getting to know our host over a glass of wine suddenly someone knocked at the door. A young woman entered the apartment and introduced herself. They started talking quite formally and we quickly realised that she was there for a job interview. Our host asked her a lot of difficult questions with us sitting right in front of her. Our presence didn’t seem to bother him at all, however the girl looked quite stressed and was definitely not expecting 3 Icelandic observers during her interview. However see did good and let’s hope she got her dream job.
Fountain show view from the apartment in Burj Khalifa
The gym in Burj Khalifa
Nice view in the Jacuzzi on 78th floor
Though it is nice to stay in big luxurious apartments, living in a shared studio apartment on a couch can be just as great or even better. It all depends on the host you are staying with. One of our host was really memorable, his name was Shaji and lived in the Gardens, a nice residential neighbourhood close to Ibn Battuta mall. We got really along with Shaji, he was really curious about our travels and our home country. He was more then willing to help us out with everything we needed.
He showed us around old Dubai and took us out to some really nice local Indian restaurants and insisted on paying the bill. He is one of the reasons we love couchsurfing. While we stayed with Shaji he was hosting six other lovely travellers from Poland and Romania. Despite that he really didn’t leave anyone out and was interested to get to know each and every couchsurfer. He taught us that you should travel with your mind, body and mouth, meaning that you should leave all the stressfulness behind at home and immerse yourself within the culture around you, testing your limits and tasting whats in front of you.
Shaji is a talented writer and will soon be publishing his first book on Amazon, called “The Mango Tree”. Shaji has a beautiful philosophy towards life which he reflects in his stories.
All of the couchsurfers staying at Shaji’s
Most of our hosts welcomed us like old friends, offering us drinks and food. They offer to show you around, each one with their local secrets. This is something you won’t experience staying at a hotel, where you are more likely to get commissioned information on tourist agencies or expensive restaurants.
In our opinion couchsurfing is one of the best ways to travel if you are looking for local experiences and adventures. So if you are ever planning a trip to Dubai we truly recommend considering couchsurfing as an different alternative to the “normal” hotels.
Did you like this post? Check out things to see and do in Dubai
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