About HOST visits

Adèle’s story

adele aubin lands end.jpgI’m from Canada, and studying French Literature at King’s College in London. Two weeks before Christmas I travelled to the western end of England to stay with a HOST family.

We went in a 'proper British pub' and played crib. It was really fun to see how people casually go out. We walked along the coastline and it was simply gorgeous!  I am very lucky I have been able to see these beautiful landscapes.

We also did some Christmassy activities such as ice skating and seeing the Christmas lights in the harbours near by. In short, this is a one-time life experience which I recommend to all international students.

At first, it might sound more exciting to spend a week-end in another big European city rather than to spend it in a family you don't know. However, you must get rid of this prejudice because you can go to that big city whenever you want.

The HOST experience is only possible for you as an international student. You need to take that opportunity. You discover a new part of the UK but, most of all, you will meet wonderful people who are keen on making you live a great experience. You have made this long journey to the UK, why not actually live it rather than only staying around your university?

Knowing people is a brilliant way to learn more about the country and they will be the best guides you could ever have because they actually want to meet you, learn about your culture and help you learn about the UK. Just do it, you will not regret it. I enjoyed every moment of my stay!

adele aubin with vashti tatham and girls mousehole lights (2).jpg

Why have a HOST visit?

The British Council and Foreign Office founded HOST in 1987. Thousands of students have enjoyed this experience.

5 reasons to have a HOST visit

  • It is a unique opportunity to experience the real life of Britain
  • It is safe – all the hosts are approved and known personally by HOST
  • It is very good value for money, and may cost you only your train fare
  • You will learn things which the university cannot teach you
  • You will have some very special memories to take home with you

And 3 reasons NOT to apply for a HOST visit

  • Please do not use HOST as a cheap form of tourism. It is about meeting people, sharing their lives, and cultural exchange. Your hosts will almost certainly show you their area, but this is not the main purpose of the visit.
  • Please do not go on a HOST visit if you need to be constantly connected to your phone or tablet. Instead, make the most of this short opportunity to engage with British people, have good conversations, and make new friends.
  • Please do not apply to HOST unless you have an open mind. Prepare to be surprised – and enjoy it!


HOST links international students at UK universities with friendly approved hosts who offer an invitation to their home for a day, a weekend, or at Christmas.

Who are the hosts?

All our hosts freely welcome students to share their lives during a short visit. There are hosts offering invitations in every  part of England, Wales, Scotland and N Ireland.

All our hosts are visited and approved by our volunteer regional organisers. We know your host and we know the home where you are going.

Our hosts are very varied - they are highly educated professionals and skilled manual workers; they are busy young families and active retired people; they live alone, and they are couples, and they are mixed generation families; they live in small towns and in the middle of the countryside, and by the sea, and in the suburbs of cities.

We do our best to match you with the right host for you. All our hosts are kind and generous with their hospitality, because they are interested in meeting international students and helping you to feel at home.

Who can apply for a HOST visit?

You can apply for a HOST visit if you are:

  • A registered student on a full-time course at a university or college in the UK. HOST cannot accept applications from outside the UK
  • Aged 18+
  • You will still be in the UK for at least 6 weeks after the date of your application
  • You can include your husband, wife, partner, children – if they are living in the UK for the duration of your study period. HOST cannot accept applications from visiting family members or friends
  • You can apply to go to the host with an international student friend – your friend must complete a separate application. Please make sure that you and your friend give us the same dates when you will both be available, and the same travel budget.

What does a HOST visit cost?

Application fee – the application fee helps to pay for HOST’s administrative costs (it is NOT a payment for the visit). Many universities pay all or part of this fee for their students. If you open the link below, you will find out how much your university requires you to pay towards the application fee.

Application Fees for HOST visits

Visit – there is no fee for the visit itself, thanks to the generosity of the hosts, who give their hospitality free of charge. You should take a little money with you so you can offer to pay, for example, your entrance fee, if you are out sight-seeing with your host

Travel – you are responsible for the cost of travel to your host. You can tell HOST your maximum budget for travel when you apply.

HOST's policy on refunds. If we are unable to find a suitable invitation for you on any of the dates you have given us, we will ask you for more dates. If you are unable to give us more dates, your application fee will be refunded.

But please note that in the following circumstances, no refund will be possible:

if you do not respond to our messages;

if you reduce your availability to fewer than 3 dates and we are unable to find an invitation for your remaining dates;

if you decline an invitation which is for a date you have given us, and which fits your criteria with regard to travel budget and pets etc;

if you cancel a visit after accepting an invitation;

in circumstances beyond our control - such as extreme weather interrupting transport services - although in this case we will always try to re-arrange your visit.


What students say about host

Ali Al-Agri from Yemen gives international students this advice from his experience:

HOST is your best window to Britain. If you want to learn more about british culture and people in a short period of time, HOST is your best option.

Esther Jawing from Malaysia visited a host family with a friend in May 2014. She wrote:

My Host family is indeed very amazing. They prepared all the british traditional foods during our stay there. We got to enjoy the countryside too and they really make us feel at home. We taught our host family's children our national and ethnic languages which was fun.

Christopher Chukwunta froim Nigeria spent Christmas 2014 in the West Country:

I was warned to be careful about possible racist treatment when I get to the UK, but with the very warm treatment I got from my host, and even strangers on the beach, I am convinced otherwise.

Le Phoung from Vietnam stayed with a host couple near London in February 2015:

Staying with a local host even just for 3 đays i felt like my English was getting better and I am so into the British accent:)

Elizabeth Quan from the USA enjoyed her visit in June 2014:

Host UK allowed me to really connect and get to know the English culture. My family showed me all the touristy places, but more importantly, their favorite areas that are not very well known. It is a great way to spend the weekend and make new friends!


Contact us

Unit K106, The Biscuit Factory, Tower Bridge Business Complex, 100 Clements Road, Southwark, London, SE16 4DG


Tel: 0207739 6292


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