DIY Hotels and BYO Luxe Dining

There’s a new model for independent travelers: DIY (do it yourself) hotels, a latest trend in hospitality. The idea:

  • You arrive at your hotel and go directly to your room, where you punch in a code at the door and let yourself in.
  • At happy hour, you pour a glass of wine from bottles set out in the common area.
  • When you want advice on local attractions, you turn to a virtual concierge.

It’s for “guests who don’t like to have staff in their face when they’re coming and going” according to Michael Farrar of the Inn at St. Botolph in Boston. “We let you be,” he explained. If this hotel model is anything like the low cost airline carriers, to make travel accessible to more people, then I applaud it. But it’s easy to see it becoming a justification for cutting staff in upscale hotels – a dangerous precedent. That being said, I applaud the clever positioning.

Also, David Bouley’s recently announced that he’ll be launching BYO nights in the fall. At first glance, this comes across as a sensitive gesture for budget strapped diners, who still want to eat very well but appreciate opportunities to save wherever they can. But read the fine print. The idea is that diners bring their own wine, but then buy the six course tasting menu that will cost $350 per person. To add insult to injury the regular tasting menu is $95 without wine and $175 with wine. It’s hard to believe some people still out there think that consumers can be duped. The best comment on the BYO dinner was posted on Grub Street: “I will drink my own wine, cook my own truffles, and give the money to feed the poor” he said. 

Karen Weiner Escalera

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