Airbnbs have been the popular stay option for everybody from backpackers to students to serious vacationers, but the future belongs to an ‘in-between space’. These are swanky, affordable hybrid staying options that combine the casual comfort of an Airbnb and the professionalism of a hotel. Some of the popular ones building a name for themselves include Sonder, Bode, and StayAlfred.
Built into an existing or a new apartment building, these spaces have been high in demand, especially since the pandemic broke out. They were booked as isolation spaces at first, and later by those wanting to work remotely. These are self-contained accommodations that offer hotel-like services such as smooth digital booking and check-in, keyless entry, concierge service, housekeeping... even a coffee shop or a snack bar.
The apartments are well-stocked like in an Airbnb. The kitchen is fully functional and there is a clean-up service in most apartments. Sonder is the most popular one among the lot. It has 9,000 apartments spread across London, New York, Washington DC, Austin, San Diego, Miami and New Orleans. Because these apartments are managed by the company itself, one does not have to deal with an individual over a broken faucet or a smelly carpet. Rooms are spotless, the Wi-Fi runs strong, there is liberal walking space, and you have the front desk looking into your requests 24/7.
Design is at the heart of the Sonder experience, a feature that makes it stand apart from others. Take for instance, the property at The Heid Callowhill, Philadelphia. It has a hand-painted mural in the bedroom made by a local artist, which adds creativity and culture to the room.
The locations are chosen carefully too. For instance, take the Sonder at The Hotel Maison de Ville, a historic property in New Orleans’ French Quarter. This was a building built by Jean-Baptiste Lilie Sarpy in 1800 after the Great New Orleans Fire of 1788, which within five hours, had consumed most of the city. The space stands adjacent to cottages that are now believed to be the oldest buildings in New Orleans.
The one in Chicago, on the other hand, tells a story of its own. It is situated in the Loop’s historic Plymouth Building, a classic architectural gem, with a neo-gothic facade juxtaposed with swanky interiors, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, and a co-working lobby.
Bode, another such space in Nashville and Chattanooga with new locations on the horizon in Palm Springs, Greenville and Savannah, has cafés on its premises that you can hop over anytime for a quick bite. There is a little market to collect amenities you may have forgotten, and also entertainment areas such as ping pong tables or fire pits.
Domino in 11 cities, including New Orleans, San Diego and Miami, gives you the option of calling an in-room masseuse. Oh, and you might also want to check out the minibar. The snacks are free. Be willing to shell out a bit more and you can upgrade to a space that comes with a gaming room or a movie theatre, or even a separate elevator bank. Do you need any more reason to book one?