Linda Barker: everyone back to ours for the Homestay challenge

Got a spare room? Are you ready to welcome the world to Hull? We’ve teamed up with celebrity interior designer Linda Barker and Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY) to show how you can play a part in Hull UK City of Culture 2017 – by opening your front door and playing host.

First to rise to the Homestay challenge is East Yorkshire-based Linda, of BBC home makeover show Changing Rooms fame. Using furniture from Hull charity shops – including Emmaus Superstore and Humber Wood Recycling – and city centre salvage yards, she has created a fabulous, low-cost outdoor showroom to inspire you to transform your spare room into overnight accommodation for friends, family, or paying visitors.

Linda said: “You don’t need a big budget to makeover your spare room – all you need is an imagination. Hull boasts some fantastic treasure troves where you can pick up second-hand items that, with a little bit creative thinking, can be given a new lease of life. There’s never been a better time to turn your spare bedroom into a unique piece of Hull culture.”

Martin Green, CEO and director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, added: “Every resident of the city is the face of Hull 2017 so we want you to embrace the ‘everyone back to ours’ spirit by throwing open your front doors. After all, what better way is there to learn about a culture than to dive in at the deep end and live with its people, who can offer an authentic home-from-home experience?”

Anybody who accepts the Homestay challenge will be able to sign up for The Big Welcome training, offered by VHEY to hospitality and tourism professionals. The training aims to create more ambassadors to tell the world about the city, region and Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

Anthony Yates, visitor economy manager for Visit Hull and East Yorkshire, said: “City of Culture is expected to bring in an extra million visitors to the city from all over the world. Whether it’s friends and family or an interesting visitor who you’ve rented your room out to, we want each and every guest to have a fantastic experience and leave with a lasting impression that Hull is a city with a personality like no other.”

To find out more about the Homestay challenge, including top home makeover tips, visit 

You can find out more about the Government’s tax-free Rent a Room Scheme here.