An Englishman’s home is… a £3 a night hotel

Written by Lisa Stanley Mann on 2nd October 2016

As London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, launches an enquiry into the ever-growing economically debilitating trend of foreign property ownership in London, a 24-year-old India-born entrepreneur, Rhea Silva, has launched a £3.8m ($5m) fundraising campaign for a new chain of social-impact driven, super-budget hotels.

Chototel is listing on the £400mn Social Stock Exchange to fund the development of two $2-$5 per night hotels in India, one near Mumbai and a second in Pune.

Hotel by name, less so by nature. Chototel is seeking to change the way we view home ownership in general. Silva hopes the huge savings in rent offered by a Chototel will appeal most to the growing numbers of people who cannot afford, or are no longer willing to pay, large monthly rents. She says: “people like to stay in places where they’re not spending 50-60% of their income on housing . . . They’re more into the idea of convenience.”

After India, along with Dubai and Lagos in Nigeria, Silva sees opportunity in the UK, in Bristol in particular. She has recruited Chris Phillips, the chairman of Places for People, one of the UK’s largest property managers and developers, to chair Chototel.

On Bristol, Chototel says: “It is one of the most productive cities in the UK, yet in terms of house prices is the tenth least affordable.

Chototel’s model is to disrupt the current housing market status quo by developing compact, scalable, quick-to-build low-rental properties.

Chototel’s ‘flat-pack’ construction methodology has reduced construction cycles to 180 days. Each room clocks in at just 280 square feet, designed to accommodate the new average family size of 2.14 people, while maximising space in up-and-coming, urban locations.

As the number of homes increases, so does the amount of energy needed to light, heat and cool them. The houses of the future need to be respond to the demand for more homes in a way that is also environmentally responsible. Chototel has reduced the energy required by each room to just 180 watts at peak load, and its closed-loop utility system ensures that the energy that powers each Chototel is generated from sustainable resources.

Each room will be fitted with a ‘microbot’ to enable guests to track and pay for utilities on a pay-per-use basis – Chototel expects this to appeal to the next generation of renters who are both environmentally conscious and tech-savvy.

Silva adds: “The whole real-estate sector needs innovation, yet from both a moral and market-driven standpoint, the issue of sustainability cannot be ignored in the scramble to build more houses.”

Chototel is also a B-Corp.

Chototel is the 40th company to list on the Social Stock Exchange, an exchange of businesses delivering a social and environmental return as well as a financial one.