A new global network of furnished apartments wants to create a lifestyle brand for business travelers that captures a so-called middle-tier of multi-city “upscale nomads,” seeking to standardize and upmarket the lodging part of the sharing economy as a better option for corporate housing.
According to Stayawhile CEO Janine Yorio, the focus of the new startup isn’t on the much-hyped digital nomad demographic, those who bounce between far-flung locations due to cheap rent the newfound freedom of telecommuting. They’re aiming for a more mainstream audience, somewhere between those digital nomads looking for cheap rent and wealthy executives who can afford multiple apartments in different cities.
The idea is to offer standard, well-designed spaces in various cities, giving those with a multi-city lifestyle flexibility as well as a recognizable place to call home. Users, who must apply for membership and pass credit checks, can also store personal items and clothing in “trunks” (basically large storage bags) at each location.
The standardization of decor across cities and buildings—all units are studio apartments with private kitchens and bathrooms, and have 50” Samsung televisions, Amazon Echo Dots, Roomcast, Leesa mattresses, Parachute bedding, PuurBody bath and body products, and kitchens and bathrooms stocked by Crate & Barrel—recalls the “AirSpace” concept, a harmonization of taste and decor across multiple cities.
Yorio, previously head of acquisitions and development for Andre Balazs Properties (which runs Standard Hotels and Chateau Marmont), points to the brand’s design philosophy as a differentiator. They’re aiming to be more Ace Hotel and less corporate housing (head designer Shana Sigmond was head of design for WeWork and previously worked on Ace and Standard hotels). The attraction is simplicity and standardization: it’s like a long-term sublet without the hassle of a landlord and additional paperwork.
“It’s as if Airbnb and Soho house had a baby,” Yorio says, “if a boutique hotel company decided to create housing for upscale nomads.”
Yorio sees a big opportunity in the corporate housing market, which generates $3 billion in revenue each year, according to the industry group Corporate Housing Providers Association (CHPA). Rental apartments in the U.S. alone are a $182 billion industry serving 35 million residents. Stayawhile seeks to provide both a better experience and more flexibility, with options for relatively short-term stays.
Last week, Staywhile opened a pair of locations in Manhattan, at 71 Broadway and 229 Chrystie Street, as well as apartments in Boston and Long Island City in Queens, New York. Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Miami locations are expected later this year, with London, Paris, and Los Angeles on the docket for 2018. Prices for members start at about $1,000 a week for space in a Stayawhile unit (with minimum stays of a month), which Yorio says is less than a hotel, on par with a nice Airbnb, and a little more expensive than an apartment. Maintenance, Wi-Fi, and all taxes are included.