VIBRATING beds, mirrored ceilings and black satin sheets: hotels that rent rooms by the hour often have rather salacious connotations, having begun in Japan, where kitsch love hotels started the fashion in the 1960s for covert encounters. But the times, as Bob once said, they are a-changin’.
Recharge is the latest service to offer very short-term hotel accommodation. Founded in San Francisco, guests can use the new app there and in New York.
And there’s nothing seedy about it — hot properties like the W and The Knickerbocker Hotel in the Big Apple, and the Taj Campton Place and Aloft in San Francisco, are all available, with the creators planning to roll out the service to major cities across the globe.
What would you use a pay-by-the-minute hotel room for, I wonder? A snappy shower, a sneaky snooze or an awesome shag pad? It would have to be a spontaneous shag, though. With the Recharge app, you can’t book rooms in advance and from the time of booking, guests have 30 minutes to get to the hotel and check in before the per-minute billing starts.
After your stay, hit check-out on the app and you’ll be charged only for the minutes you spend in the room. Four- and five-star hotel rooms come in at between 50p and £2.30 a minute, and the average stay is two hours. At its cheapest, your moment of passion will cost you around £60.
Who goes? Business travellers use the rooms for conference calls on the run and to freshen up before a meeting. It’s also found a market with families, particularly those with babies and small children who need naps or downtime away from the hustle and bustle of a big city.
But as a brief guest, are we allowed to ruffle up the bed? Swan about in a plush bathrobe? Eat the free biscuits? In short, yes. With Recharge, the per-minute guests benefit from the same amenities as if they were staying overnight, with extras like room service and minibars paid through the app.
Here in Europe, Dayuse.com pioneers the daytime short-let hotel room. It began in 2010 in Paris (where else?) and has gone on to transform hotels into daytime living spaces at 70 per cent less than night rates in cities around the world.
Although popular with travelling businessmen, we are reliably informed that ridiculous requests abound too. One recent guest asked Dayuse for a room with a wall of mirrors while another asked if they could bring along their pet rabbit. We assume it was of the furry variety.
Further details at recharge.co