Entirely Contactless Accommodation Experiences in the UK


The past year has been particularly difficult for the accommodation industry. Travel has been open, closed, restricted, limited you name it. This has subsequently left accommodation operators with no choice but either to struggle though with minimal occupancy and skeleton staffing or close entirely.

It’s devastating to say the least.

While some have admitted defeat, a handful of next gen accommodation innovators have been powering full steam ahead and surprisingly doing quite well.

Why and how? The answer is simple: They’ve become entirely contactless.

A handful of accommodation providers have been busy adopting a plethora of advancements which have in fact been around for quite some time.

Some of these being:

  • The introduction of email & text automation for communication
  • Smart device access to accommodation via app or link
  • Payments and procedures being carried out online via payment links and digital guest identity checks either by app or in digital forms.

Big players such as Hilton have been leading the way in trying to gradually introduce this with some success over the past several years. However, the pandemic certainly has sped up consumer demand.

Some of these technologies have become more affordable and competitive in recent years, which allows smaller accommodation providers to offer these contactless experiences.

In light of this, here are three new players which in the past 12 months been having some success in achieving this in the UK market.

Sonder, London UK

Photo Credit: 2021 Sonder All Rights Reserved

Sonder has become adept at reinventing lean luxury serviced accommodation. Originating in the USA, Sonder has in recent years taken up a foothold in the UK on which they have continued to expand during the pandemic.

In September 2020, Sonder launched Chelsea Green in London, a ‘tech-enabled’ hotel that features a fully digital self-check-in service as well as keyless access to guestrooms.

With more sites planned to open over the coming 12 months, this business model works hand in hand with those who still require serviced apartments for business travel and extended stays.

Your Apartment, Bristol UK

Photo Credit: 2021 Copyright – Your Apartment

Your Apartment is a player in the serviced apartment & short term lets accommodation market. As the pandemic struck back in March, they used the opportunity to reposition themselves in the market with as entirely contactless experience.

Through adopting automation, e-payments and e-verification, they have managed to keep all of their stock open and their occupancy above 65% since March 2020.

In recent months, they’ve taken their contactless concept a step further launching Your Apartment – Clifton Village. This location is a tech-driven and entirely contactless aparthotel in Bristol with keyless access to their apartments via a smartphone application.

Village Hotels, UK-wide

Photo Credit: Village Hotels - Institute of Hospitality

In the chain category, and in addition to Hilton, IHG & Marriott, Village Hotels have been one of the few who have really committed and benefitted from adopting the contactless experience.

Aside from being safer in the current climate, Village Hotels have managed to incorporate contactless technology to help streamline their appeal as a hotel experience which fits in with its guests’ lifestyle.

Unlike Sonder & Your Apartment, Village Hotels have an integrated custom application which also allows its guests to not only access their room but also order food in its various pubs, bars & restaurants. Additionally, the app has a feature where guests can also communicate digitally with members of the staff should they need anything to enhance their stay.