RECHARGE | On-Demand Hotel Rooms
I love flying, but landing in Paris for New Year’s Eve was creepy. I never even saw the runway through the thick fog before we were on the ground. Just a little added bit of stress that made me cross my fingers that the hotel would let us check in for a shower and quick nap before conquering the day. Unfortunately, the hotel was booked. My partner and I wandered the streets of Paris until check-in time.
The property did not offer an early check-in option and we did not want to book a day room elsewhere. We were the type of travelers Recharge, a new app, is targeting. Recharge is a service that allows on-demand hotel room bookings. It charges by the minute with a general half-hour minimum. I opened the app several times in Manhattan over a few days and found the lowest rates to be $50/hour ($.83/minute) and the highest at $120/hour ($2.00/minute).
Sasha Sherman, Recharge’s general manager, told TravelZork that rooms “(are) the alternative third space. Recharge is access to peace quiet, internet, bed, shower. All the things that create the experience of home.”
Recharge appeals to a range of business and leisure travelers. Sherman gave examples of commuters in San Francisco and New York, where recharge is currently available, who may want a private place to unwind before the drive or train home. Recharge also offers an opportunity to freshen up before an event somewhere other than an office or bathroom stall.
The app is a good solution for visitors as well. After a red-eye, a business person has the opportunity to change and grab a shower before a big meeting. Recharge is now available at three airport-area hotels in San Francisco, which can tip the scale away from hanging out at the airport lounge for an excruciatingly long layover. Sherman said, “It’s about ease of access and breadth of options.”
Testing Recharge – WestHouse
I put Recharge to the test. It is not necessarily a flaw, but one thing to remember about Recharge is that rooms are only available on-demand, which means advance reservations are not available. I wanted to do my first trial run at NYLO in Manhattan, which was closest to my location. But it was unavailable at that moment. Instead, I opted for the similarly priced WestHouse, which is more than a mile away. It is not a huge distance, but it meant a subway ride.
The process at WestHouse was flawless. I told the front desk I booked with Recharge. Within moments, two members of the management team personally greeted me. I was handed my keys and given a kind, but time-sensitive greeting and told about the amenities. Yes, amenities. At some properties, guests are given access to the gym and may take advantage of services like room service. I also got a coupon for 20% off at the salon. Nice touch!
The room was great. It was clean and spacious. Decor was modern and I helped myself to a complimentary bottle of water. The one hiccup, which is more the property’s issue than Recharge’s, was wifi. I had difficulty logging in with my guest and room information. I tried the alternate login, which also did not work. I was on a tight schedule, so did not call the front desk for a remedy.
One of my favorite features of Recharge is check-out. All I had to do was tap the check-out button and I was done. Everything processed automatically. I dropped my key at the front desk out of courtesy and was thanked.
Another Test – Knickerbocker Hotel
Once I walked out of the front door, I chose my next hotel, New York’s iconic Knickerbocker near Times Square. It took about 15 minutes to walk over. Of note, Recharge guests are charged when they get the keys or 30 minutes after the reservation is confirmed.
The concierge desk directed me to reception. The process took a little bit longer than I would have liked. The front desk agent, who was polite and on top of her game, explained the issue. Recharge has its own interface. The delay was having to take the information from that dashboard and move in into the hotel’s system. My experience took about five minutes. By no means was that long, but Recharge is made for people with very limited time. When a user only has 30 allotted minutes to use the room, five minutes is a big deal.
The room itself was a standard New York double and the bathroom was a good size. The property completed a renovation about two years ago, so everything was modern and clean. Once again, I was thrilled with the quick check-out feature. If extras, such as room service, are purchased, that is reconciled after the stay.
The ease of getting into a hotel room so quickly and for a per-minute charge may bring thoughts of this service being used for activities considered… less than savory. Recharge did not have a comment about that. But, like any other booking engine, Recharge does not control why its guests are booking and what they are doing inside of a room.
Overall, Recharge fulfills its mission to quickly get people into high-quality hotel rooms. Recharge says it is using guest feedback to determine its next expansion steps.