It all started some 7 years back when Manish and Shilpi moved back to Gurgaon from Mumbai. Adman Manish had just switched jobs to a boutique consulting firm in Delhi. Looking for a house, they traded up for a large villa in Gurgaon.
Savvy with digital and social media and the desire to meet interesting people all the time, the couple started a B&B from their residence. Their positive experience with couch-surfing in Mumbai had given them the necessary insights to start. However, it was not of much help in the beginning. The first 90 days were an experience of running a shop without footfalls. Finally, a desperate call to a dear friend – Ram Badrinathan landed them their first long stay guest. Thus began their small hospitality journey. Still it was a largely a story of low occupancy and struggling to stay afloat.
In the initial days, when asked by a friend what this was all about, Manish famously remarked – this was his ‘social media driven ‘Unhotel’ project. Now 7 years later, after hosting hundreds of guests from more than 70 countries, the Unhotel has begun to gather steam.
Cinnamon Stays – their urban unwind has been No. 1 on Tripadvisor continuously for the last 7 years. In 2014, it was voted the No. 15 ranked B&B in the whole country. A rare feat for a B&B in a non touristy destination. Their second homestay is now the No. 5 ranked B&B in Varanasi. Run by Shilpi’s mother and an aunt, Granny’s Inn has now become the most talked about #silverstartup in North India.
The Unhotel journey has been one of learning the basics of hospitality, preserving the soul of ‘atithi devo bhava’ and doing it with consistency over the years. Manish and Shilpi are now 90% into the Unhotel project – trying to rope in owner driven, boutique accommodation into the Unhotel Club. The balance 10% is claimed by their son – Neo. The chosen one.
In their world of the Unhotel the focus is on a ‘home-inside-a-hotel’ kind of experience and the feeling of #comeandbelong. It’s an OPEN, evolving project. And crowd-sourced for ideas and funds. Follow us on our adventure!