Airbnb’s “live like a local” fantasy can quickly morph into a nightmare when your host’s sun-dappled apartment photos turn out to conceal a roach infestation. But hotels can be so homogeneous. Now a new crop of startups is offering a hybrid alternative: apartment hotels, lodging that promises the comfort and roominess of a homestay (minus the flaky homeowner) with the consistency and in-room amenities of a hotel.
New York–based upstart Domio—which just raised a $12 million series A—snags long-term leases on buildings or units in mixed-use apartment complexes, then converts them into sleekly furnished pads with hotel-esque perks. Last year, competing apartment-hoteliers TurnKey and Sonder raised $31 million and $85 million, respectively. These companies claim to offer travelers prices up to 25 percent lower than similarly sized hotels by, for instance, sliding into height-restricted, less touristy neighborhoods and swapping staff for smartphone check-ins and chatbot concierges. (Of course, a glitchy app may make you miss dependable, old-school front desk service.) Even traditional hoteliers are wooing Airbnbers: Last spring Marriott introduced a pilot program of vetted homestays called Tribute Portfolio Homes.
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