Home swaps are nothing new. We wrote about them way back when in the Dark Ages of travel almost before Twitter and Instagram (yes, kids, there really was such a time). The gist is simple:

  • You own a home in Destination X
  • You’d like to vacation in Destination Z
  • Someone in Destination Z also owns a home
  • They’d like to vacation in your hometown (Destination X)
  • You both agree to exchange stays at each other’s homes for a predetermined period of time

Sounds simple enough and, on paper, it is. This quid pro quo scenario typically provides both parties with free accommodations. In the real world, however, the probability of matching up these two theoretical parties — who each wants inverse vacations during the same timeframe — is often low.

What’s worse is that it can be difficult to know exactly what you’re getting. Would you want to swap your 5-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot chalet for a 1-bedroom, walk-up apartment? You get the picture …

Enter 3rdHome.com: the world’s most luxurious home swap site (my words, not theirs …). They graciously offered to let us take their service for a spin to see what we thought. Here’s what we found …

The Skinny

3rdHome.com (homepage)

So, what is 3rdHome? In their own words:

3RD HOME is an exclusive private club for luxury second homeowners. Our members enjoy the use of other club members’ homes all over the world without the expense of renting.

Does your vacation home ever sit empty? How would you like to turn those empty weeks into vacations in exciting, new and luxurious destinations?

3rd Home in Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Traveler’s Take

The general concept is similar to other home swap/exchange sites with two notable differences. First, the site’s use of “keys” allows owners to open their homes for booking and get paid in virtual currency. Owners can then use those keys to book any number of other homes on the site. Larger, more luxurious homes earn more keys for their owners, and likewise cost more keys to book.

Secondly, the quality of homes on the site is second-to-none. We’re talking off-the-charts luxury with massive homes in stunning locations around the globe. 3rdHome doesn’t go into too many specifics, but the gist:

To be accepted into our club, members’ properties must be located in a desirable location with quality furnishings, appointments, and amenities.

Needless to say, it’s exclusive. And if you need to ask if you’re home is good enough, it probably isn’t.

The good folks at 3rdHome asked us to register and book our own stay just like any other traveler. Our experience was seamless from beginning to end. It went so smoothly that we questioned whether we’d missed a few steps along the way. Since we don’t own a 3rdHome-worthy home of our own to rent, we were provided with four complimentary keys to seed our new account. From there, we were able to book any home we wanted, provided the stay required four or less keys and the desired home was available during the timeframe we requested.

3rdHome in Stowe, Vermont

Since the site operates around the world, the opportunities feel almost limitless. In just a few minutes, we’d stumbled upon a stunning home in Stowe, Vermont. Five bedrooms, seven baths, nearly 6,000 square feet of living space, chef’s kitchen, outdoor fireplace, multiple patios, the list goes on … all located on the side of Mount Mansfield – the state’s tallest mountain.

This was the sort of home situated in a development with lots of words, like “The Residences at Black Cedar Pines” or “The Plantations on Windworth River Ocean Park” or the like. During our one-week stay, we took to calling our home “The Estate at Stowe at Vermont”. [SOMETHING] at [SOMETHING] always equals luxury, so it seemed only fitting.

Master Bedroom at Our Stowe Estate
View from the Master Bedroom Balcony © Mike Richard

Upon arrival, we were promptly greeted by the owner’s property management company and provided a tour of the house. Coupled with the provided binder that detailed all the inner workings of the property (AC system, entertainment and surround sound systems, outdoor grill, etc.), we felt right at home. The owners even left a hand-signed card and complimentary bottle of ice wine – a thoughtful and totally unexpected touch. Ten minutes after arriving, it felt less like a traditional home “exchange” and more like staying at a close friend’s place while they were away on vacation.

Dining Room Dancing at Our Stowe Estate
Dining Room Dancing at our Stowe Estate © Mike Richard

On the downside, our 3rd home was so comfortable and so rich with amenities, that we felt compelled to never leave. We cooked in our chef’s kitchen almost every night of the week. We watched the sunset behind Mount Mansfield while enjoying local ice wine from one of our three outdoor patios. Mrs. Vagabondish donned her best pearls and twirled in the dining room, since it seemed silly for just the two of us to enjoy dinner at a table built for twelve.

Fresh Paella on the Patio in Stowe, Vermont
Fresh Paella on the Patio in Stowe © Mike Richard

At the end of our short seven days in Stowe, we both agreed that it was among the most relaxing vacations we’ve ever shared.

Pricing

The typical $2,500 (USD) initiation fee is currently being waived for all new, approved members. Beyond that, the costs are entirely reasonable. Simply use the keys you’ve already earned to secure a reservation, then pay a nominal exchange fee ($395-$995) for each one-week stay.

The Bottom Line

If you’re the jet-setting sort of luxury traveler who already has roots in a swanky home (or two), 3rdHome provides a great alternative to get out and see the world in the same level of luxury to which you’re accustomed. We love the key system which provides unlimited flexibility, even allowing for last-minute bookings, to some of the world’s most stunning homes.

Check out a no-risk, complimentary 3rdHome.com membership today!

Disclosure: Vagabondish was provided complimentary accommodations from 3rdHome in advance of this post. Read our view on sponsored content.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Let\'s Make Sure You\'re Human ... * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.