clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Should I rent a hotel room by the minute? (And for what?)

Recharge CEO Manny Bamfo explains on the latest Too Embarrassed to Ask.

If you buy something from a Vox link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Recharge CEO Manny Bamfo

Normally when you check into a hotel, you made the reservation days or weeks in advance and are staying overnight. A startup called Recharge says there are customers for whom neither of those things are true: They may only need the room for a few hours, and they use their phones to book a short-term stay on the go.

“Real estate right now is extremely rigid,” Recharge CEO Manny Bamfo said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. “Your apartment has to be a one-year lease, or at a hotel there’s a 12 pm checkout. You can’t control it. There’s a whole myriad of startups making that, at least on the supply side, much more fluid.”

Bamfo readily acknowledged that other companies outside the U.S. have catered to business travelers with a similar short-term rental model. But he said Recharge, which is currently only available in New York City and San Francisco, is finding repeat customers who live just outside those cities, or across town.

“All of a sudden we now have locals, as well as commuters and travelers,” he said. “We have customers that use us who come in from LA and we also have customers who come in from Palo Alto or Alameda, or we have customers who live in the Sunset and work in FiDi.”

You can listen to the new podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Overcast or wherever you listen to podcasts.

On the new podcast, Bamfo also answered questions from readers and listeners about the logistics of booking a Recharge room — including who cleans it. He said hotels pay their housekeepers based on how many rooms they clean per day, and that additional business from short-term Recharge customers means more money in those cleaners’ pockets.

“We add more work for cleaners,” he said. “Every individual Recharge clean is billed at the exact same rate as a regular clean, even though on average, cleaning a Recharge room is about half the time. But we still give the cleaners the same amount of cash as if they were to clean a room that somebody stayed in for three or four days.”

Bamfo also answered the obvious question asked by several Too Embarrassed to Ask listeners when we tweeted about renting hotel rooms by the minute: So, people are having sex in these rooms, right?

“Have people had intimate moments in Recharges? I’m sure,” he said.

Of course, that’s true of hotel rooms no matter how you book them. So don’t look so surprised.

Have questions about Recharge that we didn’t get to in this episode? Tweet them to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed, or email them to

Be sure to follow @LaurenGoode, @KaraSwisher and @Recode to be alerted when we’re looking for questions about a specific topic.

This article originally appeared on

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.