As the holidays come to a close, a trend that caught on when Covid-19 caught up with Kenyans is the idea of doing vacations differently.
Because of fear of catching Covid, restrictions of travel and lessened income, it became necessary for people who still wanted to have holidays to do them differently. People had staycations, the kind of vacation that is mostly local, without having to travel too far.
Airbnb, where regular people rent out their homes to travellers, continued to grow in popularity over hotels, as people continued to party indoors when bars and restaurants were closed. The hotel industry suffered heavy losses because even as restrictions were eased, it took time for people to start booking them again, as many had discovered other ways to have vacations.
While airbnbs got popular, there was one thing they lack that was missed – the service that comes with hotels. As a result, one concept began to rise in popularity, as it was the sweet spot between Airbnbs and hotels – the concept of apartment hotels.
“An apartment hotel is a hotel that offers you basically all the services you would find in a hotel. The only difference is that instead of staying in a small, cramped room, you stay in a fully furnished, spacious apartment, but you still have all the services that you would find in a hotel,” says Eric Mbugua who is head of marketing at an apartment hotel in Nairobi.
In an Airbnb, you live in a full apartment, but with no service, and in a hotel you only have a room, but with all hotel services, in an apartment hotel, you get both.
“If you want to cook you have all the utensils, cutlery, cooking equipment – everything you need is provided, same as every other room, which has everything you would find in a home. Fully furnished means everything is there,” says Mbugua.
Since they are not just apartments, but apartment hotels, you also get all hotel services such as housekeeping, front office (meaning there is someone to check you in and place your luggage in the room); concierge (someone in charge of making sure you have checked into your room and taking care of your luggage, arranging excursions in the area in which the hotel is located), and restaurants where you can dine in.
You also have room service, which means if you do not want to cook in your apartment’s kitchen you can order food in your apartment. You also have a bar, leisure facilities like pool, gym, steam sauna and probably massage services.
Apartment hotels have also become popular with families because they are cheaper. “If you need three rooms for your family, you would have to book three separate rooms in a normal hotel, unlike booking one three-bedroomed apartment in an apartment hotel,” says Mbugua.
“It is also more cumbersome for you because if you are a family, you have to agree on what time you will meet outside your room. If you do not manage to get three rooms that are adjoining you might even be on different floors, depending on how occupied the hotel is at the time of booking, whereas in an apartment hotel you will all be in the same apartment with bedrooms. Families find that cheaper and more convenient.”
To get this level of convenience in a normal hotel, where the place you are staying is an actual fully furnished apartment and not just a room, you would usually have to book the presidential suite.
The equivalent of a presidential suite in an apartment hotel would be, say, a penthouse where your apartment occupies the whole floor.
Some apartment hotels have duplexes and even triplexes. In a duplex, for instance, you would have two floors with stairs within the same apartment.