Romance by the hour : The hotel trend hitting London's fanciest enclaves
By Jenny Coad, Deputy Travel Editor, Daily Mail
Hotels with an hourly rate don’t have the smartest reputations.
You tend to find them in grubby side streets near train stations and red light districts, not in the posh London enclaves of Knightsbridge and Marylebone - until now.
The website www.dayuse-hotels.com, launched by a group of Parisien (of course) hoteliers, has arrived in the city with talk of a hotel revolution. The idea is to make use of all those empty rooms and fill them for a couple of hours with those after a snooze, a spruce up or something spicier.
Yes. These business-minded fellow are aiming to take by-the-hour romos out of the gutter and place them on a silver platter for anyone who is interested.
As one of the founders, Thibaud d’Agreves, delicately explains, the idea is particularly popular ‘for matters of seduction.’
Of course, in Paris, the city of romance and romantic affairs, they wouldn’t put up with anything less than cossetting luxury - even in the throes of passion, illicit or otherwise.
Thibaud tells me that 95 per cent of the website’s traffic in the city of lights is for those conducting affairs - and 5 per cent for work related meetings. Most of the bookings are made by women - and almost all of the hotels accept cash payments. After all, no one wants to leave a paper trail.
In London he expects there to be an 80 per cent to 20 per cent split between pleasure and work. But then, we’re an international city with people passing through for business on an hourly basis, Thibaud assures me. Nothing to do with our ability to seduce, you understand.
In London Thibaud recommends the Beaufort in Knightsbridge, which costs from £150 for a room between 12 and 4. That doesn’t give you much time to indulge in their cream tea. St John Hotel, off Leicester Square has a more generous 6 hours for £120 in their executive studio.
Go to Paris, though, and they have fine-tuned their part-time romantic offerings. The wonderfully discreet Hotel Particulier, in Montmartre, promises two glasses of champagne and room from 1-5 for £140, for example. The website currently offers hotels across 50 cities (mostly in France) with 80 in Paris and is launching New York next month.
The idea behind the concept apparently came from Brazil, a country known for its beautiful beaches, beautiful people and energetic passion. It is also home to the infamous love hotels. These range from the cheesy to the slick - if that’s your bent.
They cater for both high and low end, from young Brazilian couples seeking privacy to VIPS in need of excitement. The famously top end VIP suites in Rio de Janeiro, offer rooms with everything from erotic channels to erotic chairs. Awkward if you are conducting a business meeting, presumably. But there’s no need for a front here.
A Brazilian friend tells me there is no stigma attached to spending a night in a love hotel - except, that is, if you are Ronaldo and you’ve invited three transvestites over. He ran into trouble in 2008 when he booked them (by mistake, he claimed) for a night at the Papillon Motel in his hometown.
But as the name suggests, the love hotels are mostly used by lovers wanting some peace and space. And we can all relate to that. Who wouldn’t want a few hours off. Whether escaping noisy flatmates or children, a few clandestine hours is a romantic proposition.
Five hours might not give you much scope to explore the mini bar or have a long luxurious soak in the tub. And you can forget the lazy breakfast (often the nicest bit).
But then this could be a recession-proof answer just in time for Valentine’s day.
'Can’t afford a night? Why not surprise your beloved with a few hours in a swanky room?'
The time pressure alone will guarantee a certain frisson, even if it is short-lived...
What do you think about the new high-end hotels by the hour? Is it a tacky stunt or could it be big business? Have your say here...