Peace, quiet, and a love hotel for your soul in New York
An app called Breather is like AirBnB for a peaceful corner of a big city. It uses space in office buildings that can be rented by the hour.
You know how you like to love yourself? Oh, go on. Count the ways.
The problem is, though, that when you want a little space to be nice to yourself in a big city, you're left with either the library or Starbucks.
Yes, you could book into a gorgeous hotel, but that costs ugly money.
On the other hand, there's an app called Breather. Think of it as a little space for (what's left of) your soul.
Breather exists to find you a small oasis of peace and quiet when you have an hour to kill -- at a cost that's greater than a Starbucks coffee, but a lot less than a night at the New York Plaza.
Actually, speaking of the Plaza, Breather launches Thursday in New York, its first city in the US.
It's already performed some experimentation in Montreal, but now claims to be prepared for the city that never sleeps and where people will kick you out of their bed in anticipation of the next arrival.
Here's a bit of breathless Breather blurb for you: "Breather rooms are designed to give you the perfect time-out experience; whether you need fast wi-fi, a desk or a comfortable couch to kick back and read on." Yes, near Penn Station, for example.
All you have to do is download the app and reserve. The minimum is 30 minutes, the maximum a whole day.
Most of the Breather spaces used to be offices and have been tastefully designed to bathe you in the zen of the corporate killer, who's really just desperate at heart to be loved. (I paraphrase.)
Because I have lived, my mind immediately went to the Japanese concept of the love hotel. It stayed there, unfortunately.
So I asked Breather's founder, Julien Smith, whether these places will just end up being soiled by the more primal, less caring instincts of humanity.
He told me: "The first instinct is always to think that space like this could be abused. The reality is, it isn't. Users have their cards on file, we clean after every stay, and so, whatever happens, we know and we would ban them and charge them."
Perhaps as an extra incentive not to abuse them, Breather rooms have no curtains. Moreover, if you smoke in them, there will be hell to pay. Well, more money, to be precise.
For its New York launch, Breather will have rooms in Flatiron and Soho, and near Madison Square Garden. So they're perfect for being near my old apartment, Baltazar restaurant and perhaps the most laughable franchise in the NBA. (Perhaps no "perhaps.")
Each of the New York properties is $25 an hour. The Wi-Fi is free, but there are no Starbucks raspberry scones. There are also no Starbucks employees staring at you, wishing you'd hurry up or order another fine cream-topped concoction.
Smith offered this interesting summation: "New Yorkers can finally get the peace and quiet they deserve, anytime they want."
Oh, Julien. Your idea isn't for New Yorkers. What are they going to do with peace and quiet? Breather is for everyone else.