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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.
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.
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.
Know before you go.
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