‘Tech-Enabled’ Inn Proposed for Newbury Street location

A 12-room inn proposed for the Newbury Street building occupied by Shake Shack would be a game-changer in the city for what the would-be proprietor describes as “tech-enabled hospitality.”

Sonder, a hospitality company that operates in 30 cities worldwide, including three properties in Boston, is seeking an Innkeepers License from for 234-36 Newbury St., according to representatives for the applicant on hand virtually for the March 1 meeting of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay License and Building Use Committee.

There are no plans for on-site parking or exterior changes to the building, they said, although a new, dedicated entrance would be created for the proposed inn.

Besides not providing alcohol, the new inn also has no plans for a new restaurant, said Matt Eckel, the applicant’s attorney.

The Shack Shake isn’t involved in the proposal, but would stay as a ground-floor tenant in the building, Eckel added, while the inn would take over the currently unoccupied second to fourth floors, which were previously used as executive suites.

Once the inn opens, a manager would be on site from Friday and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Eckel said, and management would be on call the rest of the time.

During non-business hours, non-emergency requests would be handled through the Sonder Guest App, which, said Eckel, would also offer one-stop convenience for guests by proving them with an overview of the property; allowing them to check in and out of their rooms; and directing them on who to contact with specific questions during their stays, as well as offering them recommendation from locals on restaurants and other nearby attractions.

“We took a lot of time and effort building an operating model that can leverage the phone that sits in everyone’s pocket,” said Gregg Klein, general manger for Sonder Inc., as well as a Back Bay resident. “We’re able to really able to produce a ton of content in the app that gets filtered to the guests.”

Elliot Laffer, NABB’s chair, said, “It’s nice that you’re on Newbury Street and not on a residential street, which is what the zoning calls for. That puts you where you should be, and that’s a positive.”

Martyn Roetter, a member of NABB’s executive committee, said, “We recommend you apply for an Innkeepers License. We’re generally opposed to executive suites, especially at the moment, but we very much appreciate you getting an Innkeepers License.”

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