Staying in old Shanghai villas gain popularity among younger people
By Chen Xiaoshu

With so many people on the move for this year's Spring Festival, that means many are also looking for a place to lay their head. The fast-developing homestay industry in China offers new options. In previous years, it largely served as a bridge to bring people closer to nature, through rural tourism. However, in recent years, some business operators have found success in the country's big cities. We'll walk you through an urban homestay in Shanghai.

A two-storey Shanghai villa with over a hundred years of history is located on Yuyuan road, the place with the most traditional buildings in Shanghai. Now it has been transformed into a homestay, especially popular with young consumers. It costs 400 to 500 yuan for a one-night stay, or around 60 to 74 U.S. dollars.   

Wu Ben, associate professor of Department of Tourism at the Fudan University said: "When people choose homestays in Shanghai, many of them prefer the Jing'an and Huangpu districts. Because the homestays there are in historic buildings – renovated old villas of the past century. There you can see stone-ringed doors and old lanes with traditional elements and landscaping features."   

A homestay guest said: "We in the post-1990 generation like going to popular landmarks. I think living in an old villa is a good choice."

Peng Tao, president of Airbnb China, speaks at a conference. /VCG Photo‍

Peng Tao, president of Airbnb China, speaks at a conference. /VCG Photo‍

According to data released by China's State Information Center, over 70 percent of homestay guests are under 30 years old. This consumer group prefers experiencing a living environment of their own, thus providing a potential market for transforming old villas into temporary urban homes. 

Peng Tao, president of Airbnb China, said:" Shanghai is a unique place with housing that has a lot of character. Over 70 percent of the visitors who come to this city are under 30, and nearly one-fifth of them are foreign tourists. For them, homestays seem to be a better choice for experiencing local customs and culture. "

Over the past two years, homestays have rapidly taken up more market share in the domestic lodging market, and it's urban homestays that are getting the lion's share of that growth. In the first quarter of 2018, the average market share of homestays nationwide was around 30 percent. But in cities the market share was even higher – at around 50 percent. And in Shanghai, the figure was around 60 percent.

(Cover: A night view of a villa /VCG Photo)