Why are Indians Using Love Hotels?

Most of you must have watched a film called ‘Jab we Met’ . The movie has a scene where Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor are checking in for a room in a hotel. But since they were an unmarried couple, the receptionist subjected them to judgment. They got room to stay in but what followed after that was a police raid due to which several unmarried couples present in the hotel at the time of raid were arrested.

“For how many hours do you want one?” This story isn’t that of only movies. Such instances have been found in real life as well. Pooja, a Mumbai-based PR executive, narrates an incident that happened in 2016 wherein she was checking in a hotel with her boyfriend then even the staff of the hotel was judging her. She said that despite the fact that they both were adults, they were denied a hotel room. And we know that such an experience is not unique in India. Many people live with their parents until they marry, and so before that, they have to go to hotel rooms for privacy.

Being denied a hotel room is merely one consequence. Sometimes, people have to face far worse consequences. For instance, sometimes, the police arrests them while sometimes. several religious hard-line groups, such as Bajrang Dal attack couples celebrating events like Valentine’s. “It is wrong to roam around hands in hands and locked in an embrace. It has a negative effect on our culture and the religious people.

Sir, we can spot these “love advocates” on the street and can keep an eye on them.” “Say, if you walk on the street and you spot one of these “love advocates”, how do you recognize them? “We can spot them in the blink of an eye.” “You can spot them in the blink of an eye? Just by looking at them?” “Yes sir, absolutely!” In a conservative society like India, where the roaming around of unmarried couples is a huge problem, some companies have burgeoned in the same society, looking for a business opportunity in this scenario And these companies have established “Love Hotels” that are meant to offer a short duration of stay to couples We will talk about these love hotels in this video. The idea of love hotels is new to India but is not really new for the world For instance, consider Japan.

“Love Hotels have always been a staple of Japan. They offer a very simple, elegant answer to an all too common problem.” There are more than 30,000 love hotels in Japan. They can be found in almost every big city. The Love hotels industry is a $40 billion industry in Japan. Japan got its first love hotel in 1968. Post the Second world war, people generally lived with their extended families. So, to have some private moments, love hotels became an escape route for Japanese couples Moreover, the introduction of automobiles in Japan in the 1960s, gave this concept a great push.

These love hotels not only offer privacy but also amenities land a “theme” to couples. The Meguro Emperor, which opened in 1973 in Japan, was the first castle-style love hotel Today, you can see a variety of love hotels Be it an underwater theme or a UFO theme-based one.

As we all know, the biggest advantage of these love hotels is privacy. When you go to a Love hotel in Japan, then you don’t even meet a hotel staff. When you enter the hotel, you will see a screen displaying the rooms and facilities with the cost involved All you need is to select your desired room and you get access to the room. Even when you park your car in the parking lot, the number plate of your car will be covered to keep your identity secret. Now you might think that only in Western and advanced societies like Japan such hotels might exist. And that such things do not exist in India.

But many companies are setting up Love Hotels in India as well. StayUncle, Brevistay, MiStay, Bag2Bag and Oyo’s Relationship Mode are some examples of such Love hotels. StayUncle’s co-founder, Sanchit Sethi shared his experiences of what inspired him to start off with love hotels in India. His initial business model was to target travelers that came to cities for a very short span of time. For example, business travelers. But he saw that 99% of the inquiries were from unmarried couples This is why he changed his business model and focused instead on unmarried couples.

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And the tag-line of StayUncle became – “Couples need a room. Not a judgment.” He says that very few hotels were signing up on their platform Because many people saw this as going against their culture However, just within a few months, the hotels realized that this business had a huge demand. Until today, StayUncle has partnered with more than 1,000 hotels in 40 cities. including socially conservative places like Patna and Bhopal. StayUncle hotels offer rooms to couples for a duration as short as 8-10 hours. Additionally, they also provide free love kits, which have several items, for example condoms.

Explaining this strategy, Amit Sharma, the CEO of StayUncle says- “We are not in the hotel business, but in the freedom-of-expression business.” But adopting this strategy wasn’t easy. The StayUncle co-founders have been on the receiving end of many threats on social media They narrate that one mother cursed them for exposing their young daughter to such culture. But the success of StayUncle shows us that there is a huge demand for such hotels in India Now.

The first and the most obvious reason is that these hotels give privacy and freedom to couples. Bollywood’s cult romantic films have shown so many times how the hero and heroine conceal their relationship from their respective families. That’s because love marriages still rare in India According to a survey conducted in urban India in 2018, Just 3% of the respondents had a “love marriage” Love marriage is extremely difficult in India because not only are such couples dissuaded by their families, but by the society as well.

For instance, Hyderabad’s popular Indira park set a poster outside, stating- “Unmarried couples are not allowed inside the park.” In fact, popular websites such as Cleartrip and MakeMyTrip allow customers to book rooms but their T&C specifies that couples who are unmarried could be denied entry by the hotel. In an incident in Kolkata, a young couple was reportedly harassed by co-passengers in metro because the young couple was alleged “too close” together. That is the concept and mentality that the love hotels are trying to change.

According to Sanchit Sethi, there is no law in India that prohibits (unmarried) couples from renting a room. As long as they have a government identity card, they should be given a room. We don’t live in the 1950s anymore. Apart from these Love Hotels, many couples are making use of the services of Air BnB. For instance, a 23-year old shared her Airbnb experience and said that they didn’t need to prove that they are married when they rented a room in Mumbai. They stayed there with a Marathi family who respected their privacy. The second reason why these love hotels are booming is that the taboo of premarital relationships in India is slowly waning.

This means that unmarried couples can freely date and roam around in India And the reason for a thriving dating environment in India could be the migration of the people from their cities and villages for employment in India. This migration takes them out of their familial homes, which makes it easier for them to date. And dating apps have played a very important role in that.

While these two factors may be the reason why it has become easier for couples to make use of the services of the Love hotels, but this has also created an atmosphere of tension between the old culture and the new culture. For example, there was an instance in 2019 in Coimbatore wherein members of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), marched into the Collector’s Office of Coimbatore with a complaint- They wanted to shut down an OYO hotel that was giving rooms to unmarried couples.

According to them, the atmosphere of their city was getting spoiled because of this The next day, the local Tehsildar sealed the Hotel’s property and a couple that was in the hotel at that time was sent to the Police station. even though the Madras High court had cancelled this order. The court had maintained that a live-in relationship between two adults does not amount to an offense When journalist Nidheesh MK asked a member of the All India Democratic Women’s Association about this, the member replied that the youngsters of today should have some understanding about marriage How would the girls get married if they make use of Love Hotels?

The comment made by that lady has been heard by us multiple times by either our families or the people that live nearby us. But the question is that despite this conservative culture, how is the demand for love hotels mushrooming in so many cities? This clearly means that the culture of India is changing gradually. For example, the neighborhood in Coimbatore in which this OYO hotel controversy took place, is named “Nav India”, which means- New India and it is located in a posh colony. This colony has around 11 colleges and schools. Now that so many youngsters come into this colony, young couples holding hands and roaming around has become a common sight And this cultural change is the cause of these clashes For example, the secretary of the Resident Welfare Association there says that several residents are fed up of the hotel They complain that several hotel guests indulge in indecent practices such as drinking and sleeping together.

He says that he has a young son at home and he does not want him to see this culture So, amidst this culture clash, what is the future of these Love hotels? A Delhi based Hotel Businessman says that Stay Uncle has changed the mindset of the public, but even now, many hotels do not want to publicly announce that that they are giving rooms to unmarried couples. Infact, he says that they face questions from even their staff for giving rooms to unmarried couples This shows us clearly that even though there is a demand for love hotels which matches the societal change, But several people- be it from another generation or different political groups are still rigid about changing their mindset. “We can spot them in the blink of an eye.” “You can spot them in the blink of an eye? Just by looking at them?”

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