Metro | 10/02/2012
ALTERNATIVE VALENTINE'S DAY
If mini-breaks aren’t for you, here are some less clichéd ways to have couple time, including hotel rooms by the hour By Lisa Scott
L’HOTEL Amour in Paris has always embraced its sleazy past.
Before graffiti artist André, Emmanuel transformed it into one of the city’s most sought-after boutique hotels, it used to be a brothel. Today, red neon lights blaze the word “Amour” on its crumbly facade, erotic art adorns the red interior and, if you want a room for just a few hours, you will be offered a discreet day-rate option. Wonderfully French, but surely just a clever marketing tactic?
Apparently no. Managers Thibaud D’ Agrèves and David Lebée noticed this service was becoming far more popular than originally expected.
“We quickly realized this day-use request was a frequent one – we were getting up to four a day – which was perfect for a hotel that has always been about matters of seduction”, says D’Agrèves. “Then David saw the potential of offering this option in hotels around the world, a proposal that had never been done before”.
Day Use Hotels launched in Paris in November 2010, allowing guests to book rooms by the hour in more than 80 of the best Parisian hotels. Soon, they had added properties in Switzerland and Belgium and last month London finally got in on the act, with luxury hotels such as the Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green and The Beaufort Hotel in Knightsbridge becoming part of the scheme. Plans for New York are already under way.
“We don’t like big brands and impersonal hotels with generic interiors” says D’Agrèves, commenting on the wealth of top-end boutique hotels available through Day Use Hotels. But perhaps his guest might prefer the anonymity of the bigger hotels if they’re using rooms for sex?“ The staff at the bigger hotels will till know what you’re doing’, says D’Agrèves.
“People who work in hotel have seen lot of things. It’s their job to be discreet. And why wouldn’t you want to be in beautiful surroundings?”
Indeed. So instead of spending next Tuesday evening in a restaurant filled with couples, consider spending the afternoon having sex with your partner instead. It will be arguably more fun, and with prices starting at £80 for three hours, it will also be cheaper than a meal and flowers. These are times of austerity after all.
D’Agrèves is confident Day use Hotels will take off in London as it has in Paris because it offers such good value for money. Take the St John Hotel in Soho: normally it would set you back £240 for the night but through the Day Use Hotels website you can hire one of its studios for six hours for £120 ( and, let’s be honest, you can get a lot of things done in six hours).
“It’s an answer to a crisis, people want to pay the right price even for seduction”, says D’Agrèves. he believes it will fill a practical purpose, too:”In London, there is a high percentage of the population living together as room-mates so it’s a nice way to get some privacy with your lover. We’re offering a break from the usual routine”.
Of course, using hotels for uninterrupted sex is nothing new. Japan, leading the salacious charge again, was the first country to open short-stay “ love hotels”. The inaugural model opened in Osaka in the late 1960s and was quickly followed by a succession of kitschy copycats that recognized anonymity had to preside over everything else. Soon these hotels offered a choice of entrance (including underground tunnels) and even frosted glass on the reception desk.
IN laid-back Brazil, love hotels are also popular but for different reasons: the average person lives with their parents until they are 30. 3 In those circumstances, it is difficult to have sex with your partner” says D’Agrèves. “ It’s an alternative for the “teenagers” still living at home”.
Back in Paris, Day Use Hotels is also seeing a rise in need that aren’t so amorous. Requests are coming from photographers wanting cheap studio for shoots, business travelers who need to rest between appointments and for companies who want an unusual setting for their meetings. So regardless of your needs, it seems a temporary luxury pit stop could be the answer.
For a full list of London hotels, visit www.dayuse-hotels.com