Business is booming for two-hour 'love rooms'
The Connexion | January 2012
Passion has paid off for the people behind new-style 'quickie' hotels which offer a chance to spice up your sex life - or just catch up on sleep. A year after its launch HANNAH WESTLEY takes a new look at a business on the rise.
WE'VE all heard of the famous French cinq à sept, right? For those new to the notion of Gallic luurve, the 5 à 7 are traditionally the hours a French businessman would devote to his secretary while his wife thought he was in an after-work meeting.
However, these days it is no longer the jealously guarded secret it once was - and is even condoned by the hotel industry itself.
Dayuse-hotels.com is a concept that allows lovers, married couples seeking to spice up their sex lives or tired businessmen and women to rent a hotel room for a few hours and make the most of hotels which might usually be beuond their price range.
Since launching in November 2010 the hotel website has had phenomenal success and now has more than 150 luxury and boutique hotels in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg where rooms can be rented for a short period during the day.
It has just launched 15 hotels in New York while planning to spread to 11 other major world cities this year.
Its reservation system does not try to hide any blushes when it comes to its amorous designs and its advertising is aimed specifically at "amorous nomads in search of a refuge in the hour of desire".
In other words, in French hotel jargon, it hopes to attract people looking for a quick or a tac-tac !
The internet site even allows clients to opt for the kit coquin (the cheeky kit) or the "sexy room which breathes eroticism" and which is, naturally, fitted with "an animal-shaped rug to bring out your wild side."
Dayuse-hotels was set up by five associated who met while working at the first Paris "love hotel", the Amour hotel.
They came up with the idea after a colleague returned from brazil and director David Lebée said : "Brazilian lov hotels are popular particularly with young unmarried couples who want to meet discreetly without suffering pressure from the family.
"At the Amour Hotel, where I worked as manager, people were having to pay for an entire night but were only occupying the room for an afternoon."
Now even big hotel chains are adopting the concept to offer weary travellers chance of a rest between flights and meeting.
At the heart of Charles de Gaulle's Terminal 2, the Sheraton Hotel gives travellers the chance to "take a warm bath" or a "rest in a room for a few hours" between flights and between the hours of 9.00 and 18.00.
"The system allows hotels to hire out the same room twice in a single day," says Lebée.
Sheraton clients can opt for a toiletry kit (slippers, toothbrush, razor) and a rapid drycleaning service that lets them freshen up before their next flight.
"When we created the site we thought we would attract mainly lovers : clndestine lovers who needed some privacy or somewhere to hide."
In fact, it was the problem of attracting the wrong kind of client - those who hire a girl as well as a room for an hour - that prevented similar hotels from opening until now.
Love hotels have been around in Japa and Brazil for many year but in France it was thought they would encourage prostitution. "The economic argument is the only one that discourages a man from coming with a prostitute," said Lebée.
Legal problems hit Amour Hotel when it opened in Paris in 2006 and had to close.
Now, Lebée says : "Rooms can be rented for a minimum of three hours." He has been surprised by the type of clientele they receive. "We get a lot of business people who are looking for somewhere to sleep for a few hours.
"But in the main our clients are lovers - not all of them unfaithful, however. It's pretty much 50/50.
"We get the married couples as well; people who have kids or who want to experience some fun, something out of the ordinary."
Growing corporate demand means the reservation system for the company - whose slogan is 'Un second lit, une seconde vie' (a second bed, a second life) - is now available with an app for iPhone and iPad.
The site guarantees discretion : it does not require the client to leave their credit card details.
An SMS is sent to the client and, in exchange for confirmation, he or she gets a number which allows them to pick up their key at the hotel reception. payment is then made at the hotel.
In siw months, the chain went from receiving three to 60 reservations a day.
From its humble beginnings with the Amour Hotel, the client is now spoilt for choice. Originally there were seven hotels and now there is a selection of 120 four and five-star 'boutique hotels' in 20 towns in France (there are 60 in Paris alone) and 150 with Switzerland and Luxembourg.
For those with a smaller budget but the same needs, the company has started up dayuse-pascher.com which offers cheaper options without, we are assured, "vulgarising" the experience.
Lebée said the idea became so popular that they launched the cheap site "so everyone has access".
The budget site has 40 two and three-star hotels where prices range between €40-€70. Rooms are usually available between 11.00 and 18.00.
These days you can go for hour '5 à 7' in classy fashion or you get down and dirty on the cheap.
"Lots of the hotels we work with offer champagne to the clients. Couples are taking a room not just to have sex but to flirt, to make love. And the advantage with a renting a room during a day is that it's often between 30 and 70% cheaper than usual.
"So couples are often getting to see luxury accommodation which they wouldn't usually be able to afford."