Apr 13, 2016: In Mumbai, India’s glittering cultural capital, police raids in 2015 snatched up 40 unmarried young couples who were staying in private hotel rooms, under the charges of "public indecency." Elsewhere in India, young men and women have been beaten for hanging out together in public (in at least one case, to death) by self-appointed moral police trying to uphold traditional values by force.
Young couples have little room in India’s crowded cities, so they end up hooking up at abandoned monuments. Manwhile, many hotels demand a marriage certificate before renting a room.
Thus the necessity of the one-year-old startup StayUncle, which sells 8-hour stays at major hotel chains for a $30 average. It’s like Kayak or Hotels.com, but more socially progressive.
As Quartz reports, the service has 30 partner hotels around New Delhi and 10 in Mumbai, and more in 20 other cities across the Subcontinent. Guests can book on the StayUncle site or through WhatsApp.
"There is no law in India that prohibits (unmarried) couples from renting a room," founder Sanchit Sethi told Quartz. "As long as you have a government identity card, you should be given a room."
It’s a hard sell: Sethi says that for every ten hotels he pitches on joining StayUncle, two or three sign up.
The original idea of the startup was to accommodate short-term travelers, but most inquiries came from couples — leading Sethi to orient the service that way.
"We don’t live in the 1950s anymore," Sethi told Quartz. "What we are trying to do is change the mindset of hoteliers."