We love cities, but sometimes they take their toll on us. All that dense, efficient living can wear down introverts who just need some quiet time. But the typical “third space” — an alternative to home or work — can have its problems. Coffee shops can be noisy. You can’t really meditate in a bar. Napping in the library is technically a no-no.
Breather is a new service that aims to profit off these flaws by letting you rent a quiet, relaxing room in New York City or Montreal for around $25 an hour. (San Francisco and Boston are next.) You can study, sleep, meditate, take a phone call between meetings — anything but drugs, gambling, or sex. (Breather! Always spoiling the fun.) It’s basically a short-term hotel room without the stained comforter.
With Breather’s iPhone app or web app, you can find the nearest space and make a reservation. (So far there are rooms in NoMad, Soho, Flatiron, Penn Station, and the Garment District.) Then Breather sends you a code to unlock the door. Each room has a couch, yoga mat, fast wifi, and a bathroom; some have an “idea wall” ($10 says Breather was born on one). Breather charges your credit card when you leave, and cleaning staff whisk away any trace of you after you’ve gone (we assume the cleaning isn’t deep; just a pillow fluff here and a swift sweep there).
It’s an interesting way of commodifying privacy. Living near downtown (or close to wherever you work) is definitely a luxury; not everyone can pop home for a power nap. But so is paying $25 to hang out in a room of one’s own. We have a hard time imagining this being used by anyone other than a sleepy Dwell enthusiast with money to burn. For the rest of us, a locked bathroom stall might be the next best thing.