Airbnb guests will soon be able to book luxury suites in the heart of New York’s iconic Rockefeller Center.
The home-share titan is taking over 10 floors of 75 Rockefeller Plaza, with plans to convert them into 200 overnight apartment-style suites in a new partnership with RXR Realty, one of New York City’s largest real estate developers. The deal will create a "new category of urban lodging" in New York, the companies said in a joint statement.
The new Rockefeller suites will be individually curated and custom-designed, with views of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Empire State Building, and, seasonally, the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink and Christmas tree. The idea is to combine "all the comforts of home" while providing guests a "curated, authentic NYC experience and sense of community typically reserved for locals," Airbnb said.
Airbnb’s foray into luxury New York apartments comes as the company strives to reinvent itself from a scrappy home-share startup into an end-to-end travel platform, offering flights, accommodation and tourist experiences. Earlier this year, Airbnb agreed to buy HotelTonight - its biggest acquisition yet - in a move to increase hotel listings on the platform.
The partnership with RXR and the HotelTonight acquisition extend Airbnb’s reach even further into the hotel industry as it’s planning an initial public offering before late next year. Marriott International Inc. is expanding its own home-sharing business to the US, a person familiar with the hotel company’s plans said Monday.
Airbnb and RXR are also exploring plans to shift short term rentals into other RXR properties, such as the 47 Hall Street project across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
This partnership could help Airbnb legitimise its presence in New York City, where it has faced stiff resistance from local government. New York has some of the strictest home-share rental laws in the US. In New York, it’s illegal to rent out an apartment for anything less than 30 days without the permanent tenant present. This means potentially as many as one third of the estimated 55 000 Airbnb listings in New York are illegal, according to the city and fair-housing advocates.
"When we launched Airbnb over 10 years ago, it was immediately clear how people opening their homes could make guests feel like locals," Airbnb’s Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky said in a statement.
"With this new partnership with RXR, we hope to provide that same unique feeling, in the form of new spaces in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and elsewhere so that everyone can enjoy an authentic New York experience."