Lonely Planet Writer

A new app lets you hire rooms in world class luxury hotels for a few hours

If you’ve ever found yourself browsing whimsically through listings of the world’s best hotels wondering how you could ever afford such a place now could be your chance to get in on the action. Recharge, a mobile app that started off in San Francisco and is now in New York, allows users to hire out rooms in luxury hotels for brief periods; be it a few minutes or a few hours.

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New York is one of the cities where the app is available. Image by GettyImages/Alexander Spatari

You can use the app to book in about 20 hotels in each destination at any time of the day or night. Properties include five-star hotels like the Surrey and the Pierre in New York City and the Taj Campton Palace in San Francisco. Every hotel within the app has a service fee that ranges from $30 – $50 with the price increasing depend on how luxurious the brand is. Prices can fluctuate throughout the day.

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The app seems to be geared towards business individuals who might have a layover in the city. Image by GettyImages/Dan Dalton

“Hotel rooms are often occupied only for the overnight hours. From a hotelier’s point of view, the asset is underutilized for much of the day,” Sean F Hennessey, Clinical Asst. Professor at The Jonathan M. Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism told Lonely Planet News.

“Traditionally, hotels have not tried to sell rooms by the hour because (a) they feared illicit use and (b) the logistics for sales and housekeeping are daunting. Societal norms have eased perceptions about the first issue and the technology of smartphones and app have removed much of the friction of the second”.

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Get the luxury experience and book time off straight from your mobile. Image by GettyImages/Tom Merton

Who might use this app? Guests who may consider such a use include travellers with layovers, business people who might want a space to work or even locals who are looking to experience something completely new. Brief rentals are not a new concept, but they are often mostly found at budget hotels rather than the more affluent establishments.

“It seems unlikely that competition and increased usage are unlikely to drive down the cost of such services to be very low because the commission for the app and the cost of housekeeping and related hotel services will remain,” says Hennessey.

“Think of it this way: it may cost as much to clean a hotel room if the guest stays overnight or just stays an hour, that is, the cost of servicing the room does not decrease proportionally with length of use”.

According to Recharge, though the feature is only available in two cities, they are likely to expand soon. You can find out more about the app here.