It’s a well-known fact that hotels in India are ridiculously stuck up about letting unmarried couples stay together in a hotel, especially if they hold local IDs and are from the same city. Regardless of the fact that it’s 2016 and we’re all consenting adults, a lingering attitude of protecting ‘Indian culture’ and a hesitancy to deal with the moral police that hounds this country prevents most hotels from changing their rules. A new startup aims to change this for the better though.
StayUncle has tied up with hotels around the country where unmarried couples can rent rooms without hassle, something the privacy-starved lovers of this country direly needed.
This startup was the brainchild of Sanchit Sethi, a BITS-Pilani graduate. If recent events are any indication, his entrepreneurial venture has been long coming. Unmarried couples around India have been threatened, harassed and beaten up not just by goons with a political agenda, but by the police themselves, even being dragged out of their hotel rooms on occasion.
“There is no law in India that prohibits (unmarried) couples from renting a room,” Sanchit told Quartz. “As long as you have a government identity card, you should be given a room. We don’t live in the 1950s anymore. What we are trying to do is change the mindset of hoteliers.”
Sanchit initially started StayUncle alongside Blaze Arizanov, a digital marketer, in April 2015. However, it was originally targeted towards travellers looking to stay at a hotel for a shorter duration, as most Indian hotels only offer reservations on a 24-hour basis, which can be wasteful and expensive. “What was surprising was that 99% of the enquiries we were receiving were from unmarried couples looking for rooms. We started fresh all over again. This time, with the focus on unmarried couples,” Sethi said.
The startup links you with hotels where you can book rooms for a duration of 8-12 hours, rather than the whole 24.
At the moment, the company has tie-ups with 34 hotels in Delhi and 10 in Mumbai, and they plan to spread out further. Even hotels like the Trident and Oberoi have joined them, but they do face a lukewarm response from several hotels, with most of them claiming they want to avoid unnecessary hassle from the police.
An eight-hour stay at hotels that are listed on StayUncle costs between Rs.1400 and Rs.5000, and they ensure complete privacy.
It’s good to see someone finally taking on an issue which has plagued and annoyed harmless people just looking to get some time alone. Let’s hope business does well, more hotels come around, and the general mentality of unmarried couples in India progresses.