Airbnb has had a massive impact in the lodging industry. It hasn't eaten away at hotel stays -- occupancies at hotels around the world are at record highs -- but it has encouraged a new breed of traveler to get out and explore. To boot, Airbnb has begun to find its way into corporate booking policies while also ensuring that hotels maintain their amenity list.
The ease of finding a rental apartment hasn't signaled a death knell for hotels, but the competition sure is keeping them on their toes. However, there's a niche between the typical hotel and an Airbnb when it comes to amenities -- and a new upstart dubbed Be Mate is trying to fill it.
How does it work?
Be Mate's search functions are similar to those of Airbnb. You enter a location and date range, and it shows you a list of privately-owned apartments that you can cozy up in for a few days. It offers the personal charm of being in someone's abode, which -- as Airbnb customers have shown -- has a unique appeal to certain travelers.
Where Be Mate differs from Airbnb is that it offers pre-approved apartments with the amenities you'd find in a conventional hotel: a 24/7 concierge, baggage handling, and key pick-up. Each one is also located near a partner hotel, where guests can walk over and enjoy onsite luxuries like a pool or a gym. Room service and housekeeping require an added fee, though we presume those interested in renting out an apartment are not necessarily looking for someone to tidy up after them.
Perhaps the biggest perk for international travelers is the included 3G data connection, which is likely delivered via a hotspot that connects to the local nation's cellular network.
As of now, Be Mate only operates in eight cities: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Florence, Istanbul, Madrid, Malaga, Miami, and New York. And customer service is only available via email or live chat; they are still working out the kinks with the latter.
What about pricing?
Generally, a night's stay will run you between $80 and $400, but it's important to keep in mind that everything offered is upscale. Unlike Airbnb, where you can find very rudimentary places if you wish, everything on Be Mate is luxe.
Furthermore, these places tend to be in only the hottest of neighborhoods, where you'd pay more for a hotel as well.
Who is this good for?
At present, Be Mate is ideal for high-end travelers who want the niceties of a hotel along with the uniqueness of an apartment. From our research, you won't often find Be Mate rates that are dramatically less than hotel rates, but it makes up for that by putting you in places that are entirely memorable. If you view lodging as a part of your journey -- not just a place to rest your head -- you'll get a great deal of value from staying in some of the world's finest privately-owned flats.
Unfortunately, Be Mate is not part of a hotel alliance, which makes it a poor choice for those intent on earning points with a certain chain. Airbnb suffers this same problem, and it's an area where hotels still trump the competition.
It's also great for larger families and special occasions. If you're hosting a party of six, you could very well save money by renting a single Be Mate apartment over three hotel rooms, and a party that large would no doubt benefit from some of those nearby hotel amenities. Moreover, an anniversary trip could certainly be made more special in a private residence, but with Be Mate, you don't lose those hotel touches along the way.
Have you tried out Be Mate? If so, we'd love to hear about your experience.