We can think of a lot of good ideas to rent a hotel room by the minute.
Only one of them involves private time with a friend.
Some others: a shower, a nap, a soundproof space for a conference call, a work area more convivial than Starbucks.
Sometimes, hotels have empty rooms.
Sometimes, would-be guests need that room — but just for a little while.
Recharge wants to monetize that space — and as long as you don't mind paying the fee, everybody wins. Recharge focuses on high-end hotels, and the process is easy: You start paying 30 minutes after you book via the app or as soon as you pick up the hotel key. The fees are proportionate: As reported by Bloomberg, "prices in New York range from $0.83 to $2 per minute" — plus a hefty lodging tax. Book a standard overnight stay at 1 Hotel Central Park and it'll cost around $400. Pay the standard Recharge fee of $80 an hour, and that'll add up to $1,920.
How much is a half-hour of peace and quiet worth to you?
Better question: How much is a half-hour of peace and quiet worth to a business exec with an elephantine expense account? That's who Recharge is really targeting. If you stop and think about it, this sort of outlandish model is set up to bleed corporate accounts dry, say, the same way Gogo Inflight Internet costs $34 on a cross-country flight on Virgin.
Because imagine: you're a man with a unlimited spending account in a fly-in, fly-out business situation. Instead of changing in a Starbucks bathroom — a gorgeous room with a view.
Eighty bucks an hour starts sounding like a bargain.