A new hospitality company claims to combine the best parts of hotels and apartments. I spent the night in one of their NYC units - here's why I think it's going to change the way people travel.
Katie Warren/Business Insider
- Sonder is an apartment-rental company that claims to combine the best parts of a hotel and a private home.
- It's one of several new hybrid companies like Lyric and Blueground that combine elements of hotels and apartment rentals.
- Unlike Airbnb, which is mainly made up of individuals renting out their homes, Sonder leases and manages its own rentals, which are licensed as hotels.
- Sonder has 9,000 properties in cities including New York, Chicago, Washington DC, San Diego, Austin, Miami, New Orleans, London, and Dubai.
- I recently stayed in a Sonder apartment in New York City, and the way it combined aspects of an apartment with hotel-like cleanliness and amenities made it an enjoyable and comfortable stay.
- But I also found that in order to take full advantage of a Sonder, you probably need more than one night to stay there.
- Editorial Note: Business Insider paid a discounted media rate for one night's stay in a Sonder apartment.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
In my travels - both personal and for work - I've stayed in countless Airbnbs and hotels.I tend to prefer Airbnbs for their homeyness and often find that they have better value, but I've also encountered unwelcome surprises including unreachable hosts, strange odors, and in one case, an unbelievably loud cat whose meowing kept me up all night.
Most of Sonder's units are hotel-licensed, meaning they must comply with hotel safety codes and pay hotel taxes, according to a spokesperson for the brand.On a recent November evening, I spent the night at a Sonder apartment in New York City to see what it was all about. Here's what it was like.
Sonder is an apartment-rental company that claims to combine the best parts of a hotel and a home.
I booked a Sonder apartment on Broad Street in Manhattan's Financial District.Advertisement
20 Broad Street, where I booked my Sonder, is a 29-story luxury rental building.
I arrived at about 6:15 on a November evening.Advertisement
It was already dark outside, but 20 Broad Street's lobby was brightly lit and decorated for the holidays.
I told the person at the reception desk that I was here to check in to a Sonder rental, and he directed me toward a concierge near the back of the lobby.Advertisement
I passed by the main set of elevators, which is used by residents and their guests only — not by Sonder users.
The Sonder concierge — who turned out to be a person after all, not a machine — checked my name on a list. He also checked the IDs of both myself and my companion.Advertisement
At 20 Broad Street, Sonder has its own dedicated set of elevators for guests.
Sonder guests also have access to amenities including a lounge, a luggage storage room, an essentials closet stocked with things like extra toiletries and towels, a theater room, and a co-working space.Advertisement
My Sonder apartment was on the fifth floor. I didn't see or hear anybody else around when I stepped out of the elevators.
The apartment was just diagonal from the elevators.Advertisement
Access to my Sonder apartment was keyless. I entered the code that had been provided to me on the Sonder app.
My first impression upon stepping into the apartment was surprise at how big it was.Advertisement
A handwritten note attached to the wall right by the door read: "Welcome home."
The first bedroom came with a king-size bed.Advertisement
The other bedroom seemed to be slightly larger, but with a queen-size bed.
There were two spacious closets in the hallway with built-in shelving, hangers, and luggage stands.Advertisement
The bathroom was the part of the apartment that reminded me the most of a hotel.
In a drawer underneath the sink, there were extra towels and toilet paper, as well as a hairdryer.Advertisement
The bathroom was stocked with Jonathan Adler toiletries.
The living area was spacious for New York City. The modern furnishings included a sofa and coffee table, an armchair, a TV, and a small dining nook.Advertisement
Sonder apartments come with fully equipped kitchens.
There were cooking essentials like olive oil, salt, and pepper.Advertisement
The kitchen seemed to have all the basics you'd need for cooking, from pots and pans, baking trays, a colander, and a cheese grater ...
... to cooking utensils like a spatula, tongs, a ladle, and measuring cups.Advertisement
There were also bowls and plates, coffee mugs, tumblers, and stemless wine glasses.
There was even a Bosch dishwasher, a coveted amenity in New York apartments.Advertisement
A coffee station came stocked with coffee and creamer, as well as various types of teas.
On the kitchen counter was a welcome packet with detailed instructions on how to use the TV, appliances, and sofa bed, as well as how to adjust the thermostat.Advertisement
I was pleasantly surprised that the kitchen was stocked with everything I could think of needing for cooking and cleaning up, including paper towels, dish soap, and a sponge.
And there was plenty of space in the fridge to store groceries.Advertisement
One of the best parts of the apartment — especially if you're staying a while — is the washer and dryer.
Once I'd checked out the apartment, I headed down to the fourth-floor lounge, which was hard to miss, thanks to the huge, illuminated Sonder sign.Advertisement
The lounge was clearly designed to look like someone's cozy living room.
Also on the fourth floor was the essentials closet, which guests can visit to grab anything from extra laundry pods, toilet paper, and towels, to mini bottles of olive oil.Advertisement
On the sixth floor of my Sonder building was a game room, which featured a large leather wraparound couch and a sleek wooden ping pong table.
There were even a couple of arcade games tucked away in the corner.Advertisement
On the eighth floor was the theater room.
The coworking space on the ninth floor had an assortment of work areas.Advertisement
I could use myself using amenities like the coworking space if I were staying longer, but during my Sonder stay, I really just wanted to hang out in the apartment.
Overall, my night in the Sonder apartment was enjoyable and comfortable. I only wished I would've had more time to make use of the kitchen and the amenities.Advertisement
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