We are often asked this question – How did it all start, why is it called ‘Unhotel’? So here’s our story…
In 2009, we – Shilpi and Manish – and our 6-year-old son-Neo moved from Bombay to Gurgaon. An adman, with an HR partner looking for a house in a depressed realty market. We had a surfeit of choices. Found a largish villa that became the first of the Unhotels – ‘Cinnamon Stays’ – a bed & breakfast in concrete Gurgaon. A haven to indulge our passion, but most importantly a place where ‘strangers become friends’.
That year we also started Granny’s Inn – a small inn run by Shilpi’s feisty mother in one of the most ancient, spiritual and chaotic cities of the planet – Varanasi. Granny’s inn was nominated for the Outlook Responsible Tourism awards in 2018.
In the middle of 2016, while doing a workshop on Krishna Consciousness we decided to become an Experiential Travel Company instead of merely running homestays. And the Unhotel which had been an ‘idea-in-the-head’ for the longest time began taking shape.
The Unhotel (unlike-a-hotel) to us is a warm, friendly accommodation with loads of character and creativity. It is a place for passion and creativity, for learning and experiencing, for making long-lasting memories that are unique to the place and its people.
Along the way, we decided we would create a micro-chain that cares for the planet as much as it does for profitability. And is focussed on people rather than just an ROI number!
Today, we work with 50-plus unhotel partners, dozens of corporates, freelance artists, and many independent storytellers! From one small idea, we are a growing business, with dedicated verticals. #reclaimyspace (focussed on all women trips), #Unlearn (playful and outdoorsy learning vertical), #Unbound (corporate offerings and off-sites), #HUES (LGBTI travel vertical), and are currently working towards a millennial, pocket-friendly travel market, too!
The Unhotel Co. in 2020 is a multi-vertical travel experiences company – curating trips both within India and across the seven seas. Whether you want to explore your own beloved India, are visiting us from far off places, or are Indian wanting to globetrot – we’ve got you all covered!
The Fun is in the ‘Un’ – always a Creative take on the familiar – unhotels, unlearning, unplanned, unbound possibilities
Through our products and services we help ‘strangers become friends’
We believe in the power of Stories – of people, places, culture and art.
We love to Collaborate – everyone we will ever meet knows something we don’t.
Make Promises we can Keep.
We aim to be a Planet Positive company.
Everything that we do should add back more to the planet than we take away.
The Founders, Manish Sinha and Shilpi Singh, have had very different career paths and worldviews.
As business partners, their journey commenced when they started their
first B&B, Cinnamon Stays, in 2010, and ran it successfully for a decade.
Manish Sinha was an ad man for 15 years, where he helped build digital marketing & communication strategies for the likes of Airtel, Samsung and Nokia. Stints at JWT, Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, Mudra and finally as Chief Strategy Officer at Digitas.
He had graduated from NIT Surat in the early nineties and then went on to do an MBA which introduced him to the world of advertising.
He always had this creative bent and that’s what made him excel at creative strategy and a flourishing career as an adman. In 2012/13, he teamed up with Ritesh Agarwal and mentored his company – Oravel, which later became the unicorn – OYO Rooms. The brand name OYO is Manish’s gift to his mentee – Ritesh. There is a not-so-pleasant end to this story here.
The story of Manish being smartly played out of Oravel is an underground legend in the Delhi start-up scene. But Manish walked on and followed his heart and Unhotel happened. Most recently, along with Shilpi, he has created a digital and social media agency – Studio4, as a response to the COVID-19 crisis to help small businesses!
Shilpi is an Executive Coach & Co Founder, Unhotel. In an era which does not believe in multitasking, Shilpi wears more than one hat. She leads the Coaching Practice at Beyond Diversity Foundation, World’s Top 10 Diversity consulting firm.
A mishmash of career is what makes her journey more enriching and exciting. HR professional, content weaver, natural networker, Shilpi connects dots of life in a meaningful way. She has been instrumental in building local networks and promoting local entrepreneurship and community engagement at various Unhotel locations.
Helping individuals in their personal and career growth, building a culture of trust and authenticity, inspiring women to take charge of their lives and now exploring India are the passion areas of Shilpi. Her initiative #Reclaimyspace encourages women to explore, travel and reclaim public space.
Shilpi is an alumni of the prestigious Vital Voices global women leadership mentoring program.
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The Unhotel® Co. is a brand of Cinnamon Marketing Services. (c) 2020.