Will Airbnb become passé?

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In Southampton, this will be the first hometel to open

Opening in Southampton next month is a hometel, the first of many if the company behind the concept has its business plan correct.

Claimed to be a new concept in providing accommodation to the traveller, a hometel is a cross between a home and a hotel. Unlike a home, a hometel has staff who can clean up after you, do the dishes and provide a sense of security that an individual staying in a home cannot.

Unlike a hotel, you have kitchen facilities if you want to cook, some leisure facilities (like rowing nachines) if you want to use them but you also don’t need to use any of these services if you prefer to be in your own little kingdom. Unlike a hotel you can get a family of average size into one room as some rooms have a mezzanine for additional beds and you can have meals whenever you like not just when the hotel says meals are available. And you don’t have to settle for the few sarnies and omelettes that are available from what some accommodation providers call a 24 hour room service.

this will be the mezzanine area for children or additional travellers so most rooms can take four people

And talking of 24 hours, does it irritate you when you book a hotel or guest room and you are told that check-in as at 3pm and check-out is at 10am, 11 or midday? Although you are paying for a day/night you are only getting 17 or 18 hours. If you a hometel, the owners are saying you get a full day not just a part of it. Book in at 2pm and you can stay until 1.59 pm the next day.  You would think that this wouldn’t leave enough time to clean and prepare the room for the next guest but Room 2 say they will manage this. If they can, then guests might not even bother to think about hotels or flat rentals in the future.

Unlike booking a flat or apartment in a home, the Southampton hometel isn’t in a suburb but is close to the city centre. You don’t have to spend a while getting to the city centre to see the sights whereas many private flats are a bus or train journey away from the centre. From the hometel in Southampton, I was in the old town looking at the Mayflower monument and the city walls in just a few minutes. If the devlopers can continue to build or adapt in city centres and offer reasonable pricing then they will attract both business and leisure travellers.

the kitchen area has a cooker and a microwave

In an interview with the developers, Room2, they see a hometel as combining the best bits of a hotel and the best bits of a home and providing the flexibility that the modern traveller wants. For those used to pokey hotel rooms in central London or New York’s Manhattan then even the smallest room in a hometel is bigger. Wifi is free whereas some hotels still have the audacity to charge.

What also marks a difference from many hotels and certainly a home, is that the hometel concept is designed to act as a community meeting point as well. Room2 are turning part of the reception area (they call it ‘The Living Room’) into a place where people can enjoy a pint and a get together so maybe a truer definition of a hometel is that it is a combination of bar, hotel and home but in a modern context.

For those who have to work as well but don’t want to disturb the family in their rooms there will be workplaces as well.

whilst the bathroom conaitains all that you need as is large enough to swing the proverbial cat!

You can have food delivered, buy your own in a neighbouring supermarket or go to the hometel café meaning that unlike hotels that try to attract all the business at the expense of local pubs and restaurants, Room 2 lets the guest spend spread into the local community. You don’t have to smuggle a meal in under your jacket whilst a haughty concierge makes it plainly obvious that he thinks you a cheapskate for not eating in the hotel restaurant. And if you want your pet to stay with you in the room, no problem. Unless you are one of those people travelling with a pet elephant or a lion; then they will probably say no.

By 2025, Room 2 is hoping to have 1,000 rooms in hometels up and down the country with Manchester and west London likely to be the next locations.

Given the crackdown by governments around the world on how much time private flat owners can rent out their properties via Airbnb or some similar booking site, it could be that the hometel launch is accurately timed.

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