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mtnrdredux_gw

Has anyone stayed at a Sonder property?

mtnrdredux_gw
5 years ago
last modified: 5 years ago

https://www.sonder.com/about


I came across the company when I was looking for Air BnB space in Boston; many of them were owned by this Montreal-based company called "Sonder".

They seem to be buying up urban apartments and converting them into Air BnB. It seems like a good solution in that it can provide a professional level of service and maintenance, while still providing some of the individuality and spaciousness that make Air BnBs attractive. I wonder if major hotel chains are looking at this. Though a long time customer of luxury chains, they generally no longer interest me given the quality and variety I have found with Air BnB. Resorts or special settings aside, traditional hotels now seem so ... boring ... a big line up of doors? I don't live in a cookie-cutter subdivision, why would I vacation that way.

I am not sure if companies like Sonder will end up being good or bad.

Comments (29)

  • Mimou-GW
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Wow. That sounds like a great idea. We stay in a townhouse on occasion that is owned by a hotel in a resort town. I like that we get housekeeping if we want it.

    But, I can see there might be a worry that they could look mass produced and become boring,

  • chispa
    5 years ago

    Agree with Mimou, won't the urban apartments become boring and cookie-cutter once you remove the unique individual owner? It then becomes no different than the condo resorts that Marriott, Hilton, etc have around the country/world.

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  • Delilah66
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Sorry, but I'm more interested in the locales I visit than my hardly used lodging, but then I don't travel as much as you do. No help here.

  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    5 years ago

    I still love hotels. there is something I don’t like about staying in someone’s house, even if I know it’s not really their personal house. I like staying at a friend’s House, I don’t mean to sound unfriendly. But give me a top notch hotel in a great locale and I’m good. I totally get your point about getting a peek into interesting houses though.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    Original Author
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Mimou and Chispa,

    Well, their very business model is based on two things that Air BnB excels at. Those are, 1) giving you a lot of space, a full kitchen and laundry, and 2)delivering a non-cookie-cutter charm. I don't see why that can't be done. The first one is easy, but important. Travelling as a family, we like to have a living room we can all sit around in and chat at the end of the day. Even in most hotel suites, the living room is not that roomy for five. As for the second, all the units are in different parts of the city(ies) and each has its own features and character (based on what I saw in Boston). Just like any group of apartments.

    Second, the decor is not cookie cutter in the sense of a hotel, but it is "cookie-cutter" in the sense that it is all bright and light, somewhat minimalist, and looks like it was done recently. But that kind of continuity, form my POV is a "good" cookie cutter. When I look on Air BnB I have to wade thru a lot of no-go's .. eg Dark Tuscan homes, Black Leather Bachelor, and Geese-in-Bonnets-Country.

    Delilah, I am entirely the opposite. Because of my interest in decor, I have been known to alter my itinerary to be able to stay at a certain inn or boutique hotel or apartment. I feel that where I stay totally frames my whole experience of a place and is important.

    Zalco, As long as they are professionally cleaned (and in my experience they are) and are not filled with other people's belongings (apart from kitchen eqp and decor), have scrupulously clean and new linens, I have no issue at all with being in someone's "home". Usually I find the higher-end Air BnB are not people's primary residences. They are either run as businesses or used for guests etc. One house we rented in San Francisco outdid the Four Seasons in my book. She had sets of fluffy white towels for each guest, tied with beautiful brown grosgrain ribbon, bottled Fiji waters by the beds, and a basket of local goodies in the kitchen.

  • Rita / Bring Back Sophie 4 Real
    5 years ago

    Having more breathing room when you travel as a family is a huge deal. The ability to sit around the living room with tea and cookies at the end of the day is huge, as is the ability to do laundry (this was especially important back int he day when my boys were little!)

  • 3katz4me
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I'm also in the 'no longer care to stay in a hotel' camp. I like to be able to have some breakfast food on hand and evening snacks along with my choice of beverages. We never do a lot of major cooking-in when on vacation so I don't take full advantage of cooking gear. And I too like to have a comfortable, pleasant place to relax at the end of the day; i.e. not on the bed or an uncomfortable chair or sleep sofa crammed into a corner. Love a nice vacation rental and I especially like the idea of staying in a city neighborhood where some local people actually live vs. the hotel strip. I've had great vacation rental experiences - some very, very nice places with no indication they double as someone's home/second home.

    I will say the very first vacation rental we stayed in, arranged for by friends, was obviously someone's second home (some of their stuff in the closets, etc.) I really didn't care for that and have never rented a place like that since.

    ETA: Just took a look at some of the Sonder properties - a little too minimalist and stark for my taste but I'd certainly consider if it was in a location where I wanted to be. They do have a bit more of a prescribed look that's pretty similar across all of them.

  • IdaClaire
    5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I have not stayed at a Sonder property, but I would. I have not stayed in a hotel (except for business travel) in many years. Whether traveling with my DH or my mother, our preference is always to stay in a 2-bedroom home where we can truly relax and have a "home away from home" experience if you will. Having a fully-stocked kitchen, laundry room, and most of all two bedrooms (a must when DH and I travel, as he snores like a freight train and I never got a moment's sleep when we've had to share a hotel room) is the most comfortable way for us. Experiencing self-catering cottages (found through a variety of online sources) in the UK has been a highlight of my overseas travel. (Sticky End Cottage in the English East Midlands - photo below - was one of the most amazing and charming places I’ve ever set foot in.) We’re soon staying in a 2-bedroom, 2-bath cabin in a New Mexico mountain town, and it’s so cute that I’m a little worried I’m going to be hard pressed to tear myself away and get outdoors to hike, which is what we’re really there to do. For our trip to Iceland next year, we’ve reserved an Air BnB accommodation that is the home of a couple of researchers who travel throughout the country much of the year. Their daughter handles the rental of their apartment when they’re away. Part of the fun of the vacation experience for me has been, and continues to be, researching these places to stay and then locking in on just the right one. A hotel stay would just not ever be the same for me.



  • Nothing Left to Say
    5 years ago

    Having had a very bad Air Bnb experience with a clogged overflowing toilet in the only bathroom and an owner who took no responsibility and reacted with extreme hostility to my request for a partial refund (first and only person I’ve ever blocked on my phone), I’m not so enchanted with them. Especially as Air Bnb took no action to help me until I got my credit card company involved. I suppose professional ownership of the units might mitigate that risk to some extent.


    Are companies like this following zoning rules and paying hotel tax? Because that’s also a big issue with the Air Bnb model where people buy units solely for short term rentals, taking those units out of the housing market and driving up the cost of housing for locals and failing to pay taxes.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Gorgeous, ida. Do you have interior photos? I totally agree that researching them is part of the fun! Many of our stays in greece will be air bnb or of that ilk.


    I agree that the Sonder rentals have a sort of a "look" but unless I was looking in another country it is probably a look id choose anyway. A bit HGVT-y.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    Original Author
    5 years ago

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    CRL, wow, awful. Did they have a lot of positive reviews? Not only have I never had an issue with an Air BnB rental, I have been delighted with them. And I had been a total 4S devotee (they do have incredible service, and for business travel there it no substitute for their over-night dry cleaning).

    I think the risk of non-compliance is higher with one-off owner. I notice that in some markets Sonder only offers 30 day minimums; that is likely a zoning thing. The AIRBNB Business model does create zoning and taxation and competitive challenges, much like Uber and Lyft have.

  • Nothing Left to Say
    5 years ago

    There were only three units available in the geographic area I was interested in. I rented the unit for my visiting parents so I wanted it near my home. The one I choose had the most reviews—all positive—though it was not a huge number and had the Air Bnb superhost designation. I had previously used Air Bnb and been pleased but that experience was so bad that I have not used them in the years since.


    The owner refused to come to the house because he was at a dinner with friends and refused to authorize a plumber. He demanded that I wash the old towels he had directed me to use to clean up even though there was no accessible washer and dryer in the unit. And then he became irate and irrational when I requested a partial refund because the house was uninhabitable for one night and my parents ended up at my house with Dh and I sleeping in our living room.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Wow, CRL, can you imagine if you did not have that option? Awful. Hope you excoriated him in the review.

  • Nothing Left to Say
    5 years ago

    It is precisely the thought of not having that option that has kept me from using Air Bnb again. I would have to feel sure that I could secure other lodging immediately. At least at a hotel, there is some staff and usually they have an empty room they can move you to if necessary.


    Since Air Bnb took no action until I got AmEx involved, the window for my review had closed before the dispute was resolved. The home is no longer listed on Air Bnb, but I have no idea why that is.

  • rosesstink
    5 years ago

    Have not used Air Bnd or similar. We rent from individuals or stay in m/hotels. I am only posting because of comments upthread about how the trend affects the local market. I think this is something we should all think about. If Hilton (or whatever corporation) is buying housing for their (I would say) fake bnb type rentals that would normally be bought by individuals, is the housing market adversely affected? Big bucks corporations competing with individuals for property.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    Roses, yes, it is an interesting question. Similar issue when foreign nationals buy up property and price out locals (ask Vancouver). Same thing in many Manhattan buildings ... empty, owned by foreign nationals as pied a terre or simply a "safe" investment. I have friends who really dislike how much of a community they have lost as a result. IDK, though, owners are often only too happy to see buyers of any kind drive up prices. I tend to believe in free markets (as long as everyone pays their fair share of taxes) but OTOH I think urban planning is important.

  • czarinalex
    5 years ago

    My dh and I stopped staying in hotels a long time ago. We've rented houses or condos all over the country. Almost all were found through VRBO. I've never done AirBnB. We are quiet vacationers, even when our children were younger.

    When we started visiting southern California for a month at a time during the winter, we found a condo complex where rentals were allowed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Over the years, more and more investors bought in this complex because it was very lucrative. We were friendly with the neighbors of the condo we always rented. They complained to us that it was loud and crazy, especially during the summer months with so many vacationers there. I understand their concerns. Finally, last year the HOA there voted in new rules restricting rentals to at least 30 days. Many of the towns along the coast have enacted regulations about short term rentals. It really can change the fabric of a neighborhood.


  • Zalco/bring back Sophie!
    5 years ago

    So totally OT, but we have started to drift a bit. I have no problem with people renting out their property for short term stays. I think it is a property rights issue. But buying up multiple residences to turn them into hotels for all intents and purposes while evading hotel regulations worries me. Regulations like commercial vs residential zoning come to mind.

  • mtnrdredux_gw
    Original Author
    5 years ago

    I don't disagree, Zalco.

    And speaking of OT, how cool is this houeboat property? Have to go back to Charleston just to try it!

  • rockybird
    5 years ago

    I looked into renting a Sonder property in New Orleans in May. I figured they were buying up condos and converting them to Air BnB’s. When I called and pressed them about the location of the condos, I was told they were all on the rail line. Some of the AirBnB reviews remarked that there was a lot of noise. I decided that Sonder might be buying the units that no one else wants to buy. I also became concerned at the very cheap price in comparison to hotels in NOLA. When I asked about bed bugs, I was told some places had an issue with them, but it did not sound like a widespread problem.

  • Christine Carlson
    4 years ago

    This company is profiteering from the pandemic. They have 9,000 properties so they are leveraging their size/power to refuse to credit anyone who cannot use their booking due to COVID lock-down requirements. While most property owners are issuing full refunds or credits, Sonder is keeping everyone's hard-earned money and refusing to refund a dime. A company with these ethics doesn't deserve your business.

  • User
    4 years ago

    I won’t stay in an Air BNB because of all the obvious problems they cause for the neighborhood residents and the municipality—-they pay no lodging tax even though they benefit from the public dollars spent on advertisement and promotion, often they defy zoning regulations and they drive up the price of real estate for homebuyers who would be bona fide residents. Agree with CC above that a company that withholds deposits and prepayments for lodging that cannot be used by government decree is reprehensible. If true, I would not stay in one of their properties.

  • llitm
    4 years ago

    I have no experience with Sonder but wanted to update my airbnb experiences following an inquiry I made here about them. Years ago, when they were relatively new, we tried a couple and were deeply disappointed. I asked for opinions about them maybe a year ago and because of the positive experiences, we dipped our toes back in the water. The first was at Christmas in Mexico with DD and DSIL. I cannot begin to tell you how much we loved it! Everything was absolutely perfect and far exceeded our expectations. So often we are on the go-go-go when on vacation but this place was so comfortable and lovely that we found ourselves very happy to spend some days there hanging by the pool, playing games on the large veranda overlooking the pool and water, grilling and drinking margs outdoors. It was very, very special and we would return in a heartbeat. "Superhost" designated.

    The second experience was in D.C. a couple of months ago where our first nightmare ventures into airbnb began. Our primary requirement was that it would be walking distance to our kids' home of which there aren't a lot of options. A "superhost" designated apt. was available with stellar reviews. We LOVED it, too. Nothing fancy or extravagant but so nicely decorated, lwell appointed, ight and bright, good sheets and bed, thoughtful snacks and pantry items, and it could not have been cleaner. The owners live upstairs. We had a reservation for May but unfortunately just canceled it, hoping to reschedule soon.

    Last thing. We also almost always stay in smaller boutique hotels and nicer bnb's. There have been SO many memorable ones. The breakfasts are almost always wonderful and satiate us well into the afternoon. So many interesting conversations occur at these breakfasts. DH is the one who enjoys researching and booking our trips and accommodations. Before booking he used to always ask me to take a look. I would veto many based on decor, lack of light, bathroom in the wrong location, yada, yada. But, wow, have to say he's gotten GOOD! Usually his options are all very acceptable but I still need to look them over because he may still throw in a zinger now and then! ;) Anyway, I appreciate the encouragement I received to try airbnb again!

  • dedtired
    4 years ago

    Didn’t read all the comments. We stayed in something similar to Sonder in Victoria. I reserved it through VRBO . It was a large modern apartment in a high rise.The apartment was owned by Canada Stays. I wouldn’t do it again simply because of the complications in securing the reservation. Once I had reserved through vrbo, all communication was off that site and through Canada Stays. I had an awful time reaching them although they were helpful once I did. Communication was not smooth .


    The apartment was gorgeous but it was easy to tell who were full time residents in the building and who rented through Canada Stays. Basically we got the cold shoulder from full timers. Can’t say that I blame them. Too many strangers coming and going and futzing around with the. very complicated key fobs for the parking garage and elevator.


    Generally I love Airbnb and VRBO. We’ve stayed in some great places, much better than a hotel.

  • nosoccermom
    4 years ago

    Re Airbnb: "they pay no lodging tax even though they benefit from the public dollars spent on advertisement and promotion"

    I recently stayed at an Airbnb, where local rules did require paying a tax of about 15% --- can't remember the exact amount.

  • Bonnie
    4 years ago

    Last month my daughters and II stayed in 2 Airbnb’s, one in Charleston, the other in Savannah. Both were absolutely wonderful properties, continuing to confirm for me and my family that this is our preferred lodging when traveling. We paid taxes in both destinations.

  • Joey Smith
    12 days ago

    Sonder - booked a long weekend in Fort Lauderdale with sonder. Two days before my flight they randomly cancel my room. They said they are no longer doing Sonder at this location. What? Two days before my stay you close the Sonder down. But they said they could rebook me for a different room. Didn’t make any sense.

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