As apartment rents hit record highs, ‘longer-stay’ guests get all-inclusive accommodation without a lease
From entrepreneurs who have moved to Dubai to start their own businesses, to fitness instructors, many residents live in the UAE without lease contracts. Known as “long-stay guests,” these residents make hotel rooms their home.
The fitness trainers have built a “community of customers and exercise enthusiasts” around the hotel, according to Paul Bridger, chief operating officer of Rove Hotels, which launched extended-stay packages in 2017 .
“(Packages) really started to gain traction after the Covid-19 pandemic started. Given the uncertainty, people started looking for long-term, affordable and convenient accommodation options that didn’t require them to sign an annual contract,” Bridger told Khaleej Times.
The monthly stay package includes all utilities, housekeeping, laundry, internet connection and access to the swimming pool and gym. Some hotels also offer free breakfast.
Bridger claims these make hotel rooms more affordable than traditional apartment rentals.
Dubai’s rental market has continued its upward trend this year, with average annual rents for apartments surging nearly 28% in the first two months of 2023. That has led some residents to move to hotels and serviced apartments, experts say.
“The fact that this option comes with amenities like a pool and gym and no extra internet fees makes it a smarter choice than renting an apartment,” Bridger said.
Currently, Rove Hotels has more than 300 long-stay guests.
At Premier Inn, long term guests stay for 30 to 120 days. Simon Leigh, managing director of Premier Inn Mena, said its 11 hotels in the UAE and Qatar welcomed more than 1.6 million guests a year. “About 240,000 people (15%) are ‘long stayers’ who book for weeks – sometimes months – at a time,” he told Khaleej Times.
Who Chooses Extended Stay Hotels?
According to experts, recently introduced visas, such as the freelance visa and the retirement visa, have led to an increase in long-term guests.
At Rove, monthly rentals are popular with “remote workers, digital nomads, those who have recently moved to Dubai and are looking for temporary accommodation, and residents who prefer the flexibility of monthly rentals.”
Leigh said some of the long-term residents were families who had just arrived in the UAE and finalized permanent residency arrangements; while others were entrepreneurs working on long-term work projects. “Some people are visiting family on holiday, others are working here without family and they’ve chosen to live with us rather than rent their own accommodation.”
Rove’s long stay packages start from Dh4,999 per month and go up to Dh14,999 (inclusive of all taxes). “Prices also depend on seasonality and become more affordable during the summer months (May-September),” Bridger said.
Payments are made at the beginning of each month. “It gives them the convenience of not having to pay upfront, while also allowing them to keep the same room instead of changing rooms periodically.”
Anthony Wright, regional general manager of hotel apartment brand Suha Hospitality, said prices for a studio apartment range from Dh60,000 a year in Jaddaf to Dh80,000 a year in Bur Dubai. A three bedroom hotel apartment in JBR costs around AED 300,000 per annum.
Long stays can be booked in the same way as regular stays. No additional paperwork is required, Bridger said.
Leigh added that “terms and conditions apply to hotel stays of any length”.
There is also minimal paperwork for hotel apartments, Wright said. “Another fantastic benefit of living in a hotel apartment is that you don’t need any external contracts for your stay. All aspects of your stay are taken care of by the hotel apartment operator themselves. Dewa, Ejari, WiFi are all taken care of by the hotel management. The only contract is at check-in Sign the paperwork to begin with, even if it’s only for long-term guests.”
Leigh highlighted how people will see people using laptops in Premier Inn reception areas, restaurants and coffee shops. “We also have private meeting rooms in some hotels and are exploring new concepts in terms of communal workspaces,” he said.
Rove offers a shared lounge area. “Additionally, our ongoing partnership with letswork, the largest co-working platform in the region, offers packages that include unlimited tea, coffee, water and special discounts on meeting rooms and catering,” said Bridger.
In hotel apartments, tenants tend to use part of the living room as a temporary office. “We’re offering services like enhanced broadband to further strengthen their work operations so they can work without interruption and stay connected at all times,” Wright said.