Available on: iPhone, iPod, iPad and Android phones
What is it?
It claims to put an entire city in your pocket and, after trying out for myself, I agree this app does exactly that. Stay.com’s app features guides to more than 130 cities around the world, from Manchester to Marrakech, Abu Dhabi to Atlanta and London to Luxembourg, if you’re going on a city break and need expert advice on where to stay, shop, eat and things to do, this app can give you all that and more.
Once you have downloaded the app, you are asked to sign in. (Though you don’t have to if you’re only there to browse, in that case you should select the “browsing” option). However, I recommend that you do sign in if you want to make the most of the app’s features. There are two ways of signing in: By creating a Stay.com account directly from the app or using your Facebook account.
The app is great in utilising social networks, so if you don’t have a problem with giving Facebook access, then this is the best option for you as it will allow you to benefit and enjoy more of the app’s features.
Once in, users can select which city they are travelling to and access tons of useful information which can be gathered in the form of an interactive map by downloading Stay.com’s expert guides in full, at no charge, for offline viewing. This is a positive for those who will want to use the Travel guides at their destination as it will help avoid international data charges on your phone.
Each guide combines expert advice provided by Stay.com’s international Travel experts, partner sites, input from fellow travellers and friends and users’ own preferences, making old-style guidebooks virtually obsolete.
A ‘city in your pocket’ benefits:
Users start by picking a destination, reading reviews, browsing information about the local area then add the things that interest them into their own customisable guide.
Furthermore, once you have selected a city there are travel-specific subguides under each to help travellers looking for something more particular. For example, I selected Los Angeles and found nine subguides for the city including ‘Kids’ activities in Los Angeles’, ‘Shop like the locals in Los Angeles’ and ‘Find the perfect beach in Los Angeles’ among others.
Tap on one of these and you can view the list of attractions including museums, restaurants, hotels, shopping districts and more - and if you’ve been to one of the locations, you can rate it. You can also search local highlights according to their popularity or their distance from your current location.
As mentioned above, the feature that makes this app innovative, practical, interesting and super useful, is that you can add things to your interactive map, browse your guide and discover places to visit, in your destination, without an internet connection, so there’s no need to worry about incurring expensive roaming charges while you’re abroad.
Maps and guides take up less than 5MB and allow you to pan, zoom and swipe around cities and they're always available offline too. If you want to see what is around you, you can click on the map view and a recommendation of places to see, eat, shop and have fun will pop up on the map around you.
The great thing is that if you have been to a city and discovered a great restaurant, for example, and you see that the app had failed to note its presence then you can fix this by making your own guide to that city: simple, exciting and great for user-engagement.
Any addition to the personal travel guide will be automatically synced once on Wi-Fi, incorporating input from multiple users – be they friends or fellow travellers.
The app’s integration with Facebook is my favourite feature. It allows you to request travel suggestions from friends, invite people to collaborate on a personal guide or even travel together so that you can all access the same guide at once.
This is particularly useful if you’re travelling with a group of friends but don’t necessarily share all the same interests. It gives you the knowledge of local attractions and sites so if, once you’re at your destination, you want to split up to do different activities but then meet for lunch at the same restaurant, this app is the perfect partner for helping you get around and enjoy the best of both worlds.
You can invite your friends to help you build a travel itinerary. Either by informally asking your Facebook friends’ recommendations on places to stay, see, eat and shop in the city and they don’t need to have a Stay.com account to do so.
Or you can create your own personalised guide, selecting locations and attractions that may not appear in the Stay.com guides, such as that great restaurant you discovered or a clothing boutique you found in a hidden corner of the city. This allows you to build a more bespoke itinerary for your trip.
There is also an option for you to share the guides with your own friends via Facebook, Twitter, or email.
The app is great for when you’re travelling to some of the world’s biggest and well-known cities, however, if you’re thinking of going off the beaten path, Stay.com’s app will not be as useful to your trip. You won’t be able to construct a personalised guide prior to travel for, say, Scottsdale, Arizona. On the other hand, if you’re visiting, for example, London, Venice, Miami or Tokyo, then there’s more than plenty to use on the app.
This app combines everything in one place and allows you to view the information on a handy interactive map, making user-experience fun and the access to, and quality of, information top notch. Stay.com’s app is a social Travel App through and through; it draws a great balance between expert advice, user-friendly functions and incredibly valuable information from every day travellers. It is the one-stop-shop for all your travel needs and for that reason the app gets a travel-tastic 5/5.
Do you have the Stay.com app? Tell us what you think of the app in the comments below or tweet us @FemaleFirst_UK
Shabana Adam @Shabana_FAM