Anonymous hotel rooms, plastic key cards, and an ice machine down the hall: These are all “don’t”s at Airbnb-backed Lyric.
The company, which specializes in short-term apartment rentals, is betting that business travelers value design and a homey atmosphere enough to leave behind their chain-hotel loyalty points. And while it has billed itself as “the leading tech and data-powered real estate and lifestyle hospitality company,” Lyric leans heavily on aesthetics.
“We’ve moved into the Instagram era of hospitality consumption,” Andrew Kitchell, Lyric’s CEO and cofounder, told Business Insider.
Lyric gave Business Insider an exclusive look at what it calls its “design ethos” deck. The company says it uses the guide internally as a framework for design decisions and when presenting to real-estate developers it’s looking to partner with. Lyric leases space, remodels it, and rents it out on a short-term basis.
Lyric’s chief experience officer, Ravi Hampole, was previously the vice president of global brand design at Starwood Hotels, which was bought by Marriott in 2016 and known for its brands like Westin, Sheraton, and Aloft.
“There is no other company in this space that has focused this much on brand and design,” Hampole said of Lyric.
Lyric, which has raised $185 million in total, has apartments geared toward travelers in 14 US cities. It snagged $160 million in a combination of debt and equity funding in April in a Series B round led by Airbnb, which also lists the smaller company’s rentals on its site. It declined to share its valuation with Business Insider.
Airbnb was joined in the latest fundraising round by the real-estate firms RXR Realty and Tishman Speyer, as well as Fifth Wall, a big venture-capital investor in companies that combine tech and real estate that also was part of Lyric’s Series A.
But Lyric is not alone in looking to combine short-term apartment rentals with more hotel-like accommodations. In July, Sonder said that it closed a $210 million Series D funding round that brought its valuation north of $1 billion and that Airbnb’s former chief financial officer, Laurence Tosi, was joining its board.
Big hotels are also jumping in with similar offerings. In April, Marriott started partnering with property-management companies to offer home rentals.
And Airbnb, one of the highest-valued private startups in the US, has continued to push into corporate-focused rentals. On Monday, it said it was buying Urbandoor, a listing site for furnished apartments geared toward professionals.
Hampole said he was trying to bring the “narrative-based” design he learned at Starwood to apartment-like spaces. But that brings a lot of challenges, as Lyric needs to provide flexible accommodations that appeal to both business travelers and tourists.
“This is a space for you to build your own narrative — a space you could have a meeting in, you could have a dinner party in, you could be staying there for a weekend with family or friends, or you could be staying there for business,” he said.
The design guide shows concepts that Lyric wants to focus on when designing its rental units. For example, the company wants to be “bold” but not too bold — the Lyric version of bold does not include aggressive colors or clutter, according to the slides.
Take a look through the slides below to learn more about Lyric’s design approach.