If you didn't buy a dog in 2020, you started a podcast. As tempting as a four-legged SUITCASE mascot was, we went with the latter. After spending the entirety of season 1 recording from a wardrobe, when season 2 rolled around I knew it was time to up my game and seek out somewhere soundproof but stylish.
Enter Sonder. The next generation of self-catering stays that mixes savvy tech with thoughtful design. Whether you're mixing up your home office or embarking on a city staycation - we greedily opted for both - Sonder has a portfolio of properties from New Orleans to Mayfair, Madrid to Minneapolis.
On our visit (and after painstakingly browsing hundreds pads worthy of Architectural Digest's front page on the Sonder app) we opted to bed down in The Arts Council, lured by the high ceilings, arched windows and the ability to record without competing with our housemate's Netflix resonating through the walls.
After picking our chosen property, we were sent step-by-step instructions detailing building codes, how to operate the heating and neighbourhood recommendations. Better yet, this information is always on-hand, throughout your stay. Despite being a millennial, tech does tend to get me in a bit of a tizz and plenty of times I've locked myself out of my apartment, unable to remember the door code. With Sonder? It's like having your sensible friend that makes sure everyone's home at the end of the night with you at all times.
Tech is the key to saving the travel industry and Sonder has nailed theirs. It's a seamless, self-service journey that means you skip check-in - and we mean, really skip check-in - there's no apologising for your shoddy just-landed appearance or not-slept-a-wink eye bags, and in my case, on my staycation in my home city of London, I could dump my bags and head out to do what I wanted to do.
Combining the convenience of a hotel with the freedom of a self-catering stay, Sonder has answered a multi-hyphenate millennials podcast-recording prayers and provided a stay that blurs the boundaries between work and play.
Our apartment was a lesson in modern Scandi minimalism. Antique lamps sat atop a vintage-looking woven rug, a small library's worth of books were artfully strewn across a marble table, a gallerist's selection of art hung on the walls and, on the bed were the fluffiest, vanilla-hued satin sheets we've ever had the pleasure of climbing into. Within seconds of entering our new design-driven pad, we'd requested to extend our stay on the Sonder app.
Aside from the state-of-the-art kitchen, Netflix-ready flat-screen TV and the fully stocked bathroom cabinet with woody fragrance lotions and potions, you'll also find a coffee machine, and wait for it, a washing machine stocked with detergent and fabric softener. We're not sure whether it's lockdown-induced obsession with cleanliness or boredom of fighting our housemates for the machine at home but we practically squealed when we found this.
Sonder's real draw though? Your on-hand, in-app concierge that can take care of everything from late check-out to switching a light bulb, all within a few taps.
Where should we go for a food shop?
Wreak havoc on the fully equipped kitchen - we're talking chef's knives, woks, peelers, the lot - and whip up dishes from one of your favorite restaurants' home delivery kits. Making use of that Masterchef-worthy kitchen also helps keep stays affordble - this is bougie on a budget.
What about if we want to eat out?
We became morning regulars at Bonne Bouche, tempted by its glistening almond croissants, and stopped by Strutton Ground Market for lunch. Without sounding like a Craig David 90s soundtrack, on Monday we snacked on burritos, Tuesday a stuffed-to-bursting falafel wrap and Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we gorged on takeaway plates piled high with fiery jerk chicken.
Aside from our sample of each of Strutton Ground Market's stalls on a rotating basis, The Cinnamon Club (for modern Indian fare), Lorne (a lesson in locavore menus) and A. Wong (famed for its legendary dim sum) are all within walking distance of the apartment.
Who should we bring?
Someone who wants a change of scene and will enjoy upgrading their own surroundings - partner, housemate or your pet. Working from home has you feeling haggard? Go it alone. A change of scene in a swoon-worthy crash pad is all it takes to reignite your creative flame.
Anything essentials we need to pack?
Sonder has thought of everything and got it all covered. Use the app to request everything from fresh towels or extra shower gel to more dishwasher tablets and fabric softener. We told you, seamless.
Things you should know…
That you'll probably have booked your next Sonder stay before you finish your first.
Likelihood is after your stay you won't want to return to your traditional flight-and-hotel model and will be searching the Sonder app for your next boutique bolthole. Flicking through the app feels a bit like interior browsing Pinterest on a Sunday evening and with everything in your stay being made so easy, the cleanliness and the safe, self contained spaces, you'll soon, like us, be hooked.
What abouts its green credentials?
Sonder takes care of people as well as the planet. During the pandemic they provided Sonder rooms to those in need, including healthcare workers and patients seeking aftercare, as well as helping local artists with creative partnerships in multiple Sonder cities.
Within a short walk, you can find...
The whole city is at your disposal. Amble along the river, dip in and out of St James's nibbling at Paxton & Whitfield cheese samples as you go, scoot around Tate Britain or saunter along the Southbank.