For those of us who have experienced the frustration of the dreaded roam – that is, the moment you step into another country, and your smartphone switches into money-guzzling roam mode– the elegantly simple solution offered by London's onefinestay is a welcome relief. Book a stay at one of their residential homes and they give you a free iPhone for use while you're on vacation. Not only do you avoid roaming charges, you have the added benefit of insider apps provided by the company to help you navigate London like a local.
The iPhone comes loaded with recommendations for the area, information about the home, currency converter and itinerary planner, access to housekeeping for additional cleaning and room service, telephone numbers for services like babysitting or bike rentals, and access to various travel guides. If you're really old-school, you can actually use the phone as a phone (how quaint); local calls are free, as are internet access, Google maps, and a weather app.
onefinestay bills itself as London's "first unhotel," because visitors actually stay in real homes while the owners are away. Call it immersive travel without those pesky legal issues. The company handpicks the homes, so there's no need to worry about walking into a taxidermy ferret collection or a flooded basement. Amenities like White Company or Kiehl's toiletries, fresh towels, free Wifi, a phone-in 24/7 help desk, and a concierge welcome make for a hotel-like experience while the homey residence provides a cozy respite from impersonal hotel rooms. To add to your experience, the homeowners leave you with recommendations for things to do in your area, so you can hit the ground running or, you know, lazily sauntering.
Photo credit: Courtesy of onefinestay; London via Shutterstock