Travel Agent met this week with Enrique Sarasola, founder of Room Mate Hotels. These urban boutique bed-and-breakfasts, featured throughout Spain, New York and Miami, have individual names to give them, as Sarasola describes it, unique personalities. He hopes that travelers will feel as comfortable at these properties as they do when they crash with their friends—hence the brand’s name.
As the original Room Mate opened in Madrid, the hotels mimic the Spanish style of serving breakfast until lunchtime. To make the properties affordable to hip urban travelers, many of the rooms in the European hotels cost as little as €100 per night, with breakfast included. (Suites can cost up to €350 per night.) There are few in-house amenities (although the New York property, centrally located in Times Square, has a pool in the lobby), but each hotel has arrangements with gyms, restaurants and other business within a brief walking distance.
One feature that sets Room Mate Hotels apart from other youth-oriented properties is the digital guidebooks that are available upon check-in. Guests can download a virtual pamphlet to their cell phones to learn about the hotel and the neighborhood, increasing portability and saving trees at the same time.
The hotels offer commissions of up to 12 percent to agents, and Sarasola has plans to expand to new countries and cities in the coming years, including more hotels in New York.