In Jab We Met, Kareena and Shahid’s characters enter a hotel to temporarily rent a room for a few hours to rest before their onward journey. The sign outside the guest house says “Hotel Decent” and as they enter, a lecherous receptionist assumes the worst and makes passing remarks about the two of them – an unmarried pair looking for a place to rest. What follows is a humorous exchange of dialogues, followed by a smirking receptionist handing over the key to their room.

The stigma associated with leasing hotel rooms to unmarried couples has been prominent for decades. In fact, many unmarried couples feel the need to have some privacy of their own and are yet not given their sense of comfort thanks to the inhospitable nature of private residencies, guest houses and hotels.

Solving An Age-Old Problem

Sanchit Sethi, a graduate from BITS – Pilani, decided to bring an end to this problem aching our country by creating StayUncle, a short duration hotel room booking service, designed for unmarried couples who are finding it hard to spend some private moments together.
StayUncle’s tagline, visible on their website’s splash page – “Couples Need A Room, Not A Judgement” aptly summarizes the problem the startup is trying to solve. Originally created as a hotel-room aggregator for travellers needing hotel rooms for short durations, Sanchit decided to reposition his startup after realizing that most of his booking requests were coming from unmarried couples.

Co-Founded along with a childhood friend, Nand Singh and Blaze Arizanov, a digital marketing expert from Macedonia, the trio have revolutionized this space thanks to some innovative marketing on the digital sphere and has helped spread word about the brand virally.

How StayUncle Works

All properties on their platform are checked for security and quality before added into their database and customers can book two time slots online – either 10 AM to 7 PM or 9PM to 8AM, both very convenient for travellers and couples alike. They are currently functional in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Jaipur, Kolkata, Chennai, Pune and Shimla and are continuously adding to their portfolio. An average 3* hotel would cost anywhere between INR 1,500-3,500 while 4* and 5* properties would set you back anywhere between INR 4,000-5,500.

Starting off with small private hotels in the metros, StayUncle has now also managed to rope in the Oberoi and Trident hotels in Mumbai – showing the market that even the best hospitality brands are moving with the times and changing their mindset on rights of admission to their properties. StayUncle looks to enter 30 more cities across the length and breadth of our country in the next 12 months.

The Law and Its Implementation

Speaking about India’s Penal Code and the current law with respect to renting a room, Sanchit said,  

“There is no law in India that prohibits (unmarried) couples from renting a room. As long as you have a government identity card, you should be given a room.”

Irrespective of the given laws by which hotels are governed, unmarried couples still have a hard time to get a room, even if they are staying for long durations during holidays – causing much heartburn and heartbreak for couples. Many hotels do not let allow admission to people who are trying to book a hotel room in the same city as their residence to keep unmarried couples at bay, which is not only very narrow minded but also not legal.

Given the nascent nature of the project and the barriers it must cross to succeed – StayUncle has been great at doing what they do. Although India has a long way to go to get rid of the social stigma associated with private accommodation for unmarried couples, seeing the success of StayUncle in this sphere will surely motivate other such unique startups to solve such problems which are underlying throughout our society.

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