Lodging options abound in New Orleans. For travelers willing to look past the usual, Sonder offers apartment-style living in mutli-unit buildings and hotels alike.
We’d never heard of Sonder before we hit the lobby of the Jung Hotel. En route the front desk, there was a sign directing Sonder guests to check in on the second floor. We saw several fellow travelers head for the alternate check in while we exchanged pleasantries for credit cards with the front desk attendant. She explained that it was essentially a separate Airbnb-style property run within the hotel. Naturally, I asked whose rates were lower. I received only a smile in response.
Once Malinda and I were settled, I did a search for an executive king at the Jung and got a rate of $885 for five (5) nights. The rough equivalent for Sonder was $667.91– significant enough to warrant further investigation.
Note: I did only as much “reviewing” of Sonder as I would’ve done had we known about them before booking directly with the Jung. It consisted of poking around their site, googling the company, downloading the app and comparing rates for the same travel dates. I did not reach out to Sonder and we have not stayed at any of their properties. Here’s what I found…
What is Sonder?
Sonder bills itself as sort of a mashup between the best of Airbnb, extended stay apartment living and a luxury hotel chain– all conveniently located in the hippest neighborhoods around the world. According to the company’s site, it was born out of the frustration of unsatisfying Airbnb experiences ranging from uncertain check-ins to unsavory living conditions. Key in their pitch is that the accommodations are what you’d have in your own home– or that of your favorite stylish, upscale friend or relative who is still utterly down to earth. We cannot currently confirm or deny, but will happily report back once we’ve stayed on site.
Every Sonder, from a studio to a six bedroom, has been purposefully designed and outfitted as an entire living space with the amenities of a home. Whether your stay is two days, two months or two years, Sonder ensures a unique, yet consistent experience. –www.sonder.com
In New Orleans, Sonder is the “largest single operator of vacation rentals in the city.” Per NOLA.com, the short-term rental company leased 110 luxury units of the Jung in October of 2018, following lackluster rentals of the mixed residential / hotel property in NOLA’s reawakening Central Business District. Founded in 2014, the Sonder is a short-term rental company with properties in fourteen, mostly-US cities. They’re represented in enough vacation mainstays for family, festivals and fun to be a legit option. Perennial favorites like Austin, Houston, San Francisco, Chicago and Miami make the cut. Options in New York and Washington, DC only accommodate stays of no fewer than thirty (30) days. Montreal, London and Rome comprise a brief, but sufficient, list of Sonder’s international possibilities.
How Sonder works
Once you check in, Sonder relegates most direct communication and requests to text messaging. You’ve already likely booked on the site or through an app rather than a human being, so why stop there. Right?! Interesting. And depending on what you’re looking for from a stay in any given city– it could work. Or not.
Unlike a typical Airbnb, there is usually no one on site to welcome you to the dwelling. Actual hotels in which they’ve leased space (e.g. The Jung) seem to be among the exceptions. About 72 hours before check in, they’ll send you instructions on how to enter your Sonder– including secure access or lockbox location. It’s like an Airbnb without the privacy concerns and casual racism. Book wisely. Your card is charged for the full stay when you reserve your room. The service advises booking at least a week in advance of your stay and directs users to handle last minute bookings via text, rather than through the website. If your plans change once you’ve booked, you can only get a full refund if you cancel within 24 hours.
- There is no daily housekeeping service. For fresh linens or extra towels you’ll have to text Sonder.
- Certain Sonder hotel properties like The Jung may offer housekeeping and Room service. Inquire.
- Cooking Utensils and basic condiments are provided as well as “excellent” toiletries.