Free Hotel Smartphone Rental Finally Lands in the US

Aug 10, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

For years, hotels throughout Asia, Europe and other regions have offered smartphones to their guests to use free of charge for the duration of their stay.

The service, provided by a company called Handy, includes an Android handset loaded up with popular apps and support for free international phone calls, mobile data and even room-to-room calling. Hotels, not guests, pay $1 per device per day.

Handy is apparently available in roughly 650,000 hotel rooms in 82 countries around the world, so I was surprised to learn that hotels in the United States hadn’t yet offered the service. That changed just this week — the NoMo SoHo Hotel in New York City is the first property to hand out Handy smartphones in the US.

Photo courtesy of Handy.
Photo courtesy of Handy.

According to the hotel, these particular devices include the following:

  • Free voice calling to Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain and the UK
  • Free data plan
  • A one-time New York City phone number and personal extension
  • Connectivity to the hotel and direct dial to hotel services anytime, anywhere
  • Pre-loaded with emergency contacts and essential travel information to make travel hassle-free
  • A complete listing of NoMo SoHo’s discounts and promotions at neighborhood retailers and service providers
  • Access to LUXOS, a local luxury lifestyle and travel guide that allows travelers to discover new experiences
  • Ability to download apps, import contacts and upload photos
  • Connections to social media accounts, web browsers and maps/directions
  • All personal data is auto-erased upon check-out

I haven’t stayed at the NoMo SoHo myself, but the property appears to be decently popular on TripAdvisor — it’s currently ranked #269 of 479 hotels in New York City, with an average rating of 4.0. Weekday rates are usually well above $300, but I found some weekend dates closer to the $200 mark.

A Premium King room. Photo courtesy of NoMo SoHo.
A Premium King room. Photo courtesy of NoMo SoHo.

Unfortunately you can’t book a stay on points — and the property doesn’t participate in Amex’s phenomenal Fine Hotels & Resorts program, or Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection — but if you’re visiting from out of the country, the ability to avoid buying a local SIM or paying roaming charges could help make a stay more affordable overall.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.