One of my most disappointing life experiences came by way of a loyalty scheme. There was a man asking for spare change for a coffee outside Caffè Nero; I truly didn’t have any change in my purse but what I DID have was a loyalty card which, when I bought my coffee, got its final stamp, entitling me to a freebie next time. Elated, I walked back outside, apologised to the man for the fact that I’d had no coins and said,
“But you can go and get a coffee with this!”
He took it from me, looked at me scathingly, dropped it on the ground and turned his back on me. Faith in loyalty schemes – and indeed, in human nature – gusting down the street on the same breeze that was carrying my fully-stamped card away.
Wanup may very well have restored my faith, however. Although coffee and travel tend to jostle for my attention in the “life essentials” rankings, I’m also acutely aware that part of the joy of travelling is the fact that it allows you to sample the coffee in various destinations. Coffee doesn’t facilitate travel, unless you include the journey from “urgghhhh” to “semi-human”.
So travel wins – and, better still, Wanup rewards it.
Aimed at travellers who value the experiential side of visiting a new destination, Wanup, with its portfolio of over 1,000 accommodations in 15 European cities encourages stays at independent hotels rather than the ubiquitous chains or Airbnbs. The hotels within the portfolio have all been carefully selected on the basis of their individual features and the strength of their customer reviews; members can choose from boutique hotels in chic city locations or relaxed beachside settings – there’s even a castle or two on the books. For us, the luxe Hotel Lumen, just a short walk away from the Louvre, was the base from which our Parisian explorations set off; its incredible centrality was only slightly outshone by its fabulously opulent decor, where small spaces are embraced by use of moody colours and enlivened by clever lighting, gleaming metals and sumptuous fabrics.
And the rewards? In-stay perks for a Wanup traveller include food and beverage discounts, free WiFi, early check ins and late check outs; you also earn a €40 voucher on joining. Up to 6% of each booking comes back to you in ‘travel cash,’ which can either be redeemed on your current stay or saved up towards a later one.
Partnerships with organisations aimed at boosting traveller experience by way of ‘authenticism’ form one element of the way that savvy travellers can ‘spend’ their rewards. One of these is Musement, which offers access to local tours and attractions, tailored to customer interest. I’d wandered the streets of The Marais many times in the past, but the knowledge and insight provided by our guide layered the neighbourhood with new charm.
And then there’s EatWith an international supper club concept (there are over 25,000 hosts in over 130 countries) that’s surely irresistible to those whose passion for good food is as strong as their curiosity about the residents of the city they’re visiting.
For me, this was the highlight of a weekend in Paris with Wanup. Having visited the City of Light several times, I’ve often been frustrated by its impenetrability. Wandering the markets, giving all the heart eyes to the luscious colours of fresh fruits and vegetables, I’ve seen people who are definitely not tourists filling their bags. Walking past those wonderful facades, seeing those grand doors …who opens them at the day’s end? At Les Puces de Clignancourt, the flea markets at the end of Metro Line 4, I’ve seen incredible bric a brac and antiques for which there’s almost certainly not a weekend traveller client base. Who’s buying it and what do their homes look like?
So what an absolute delight to navigate the Metro and walk the streets of a previously unvisited neighbourhood. To ring a buzzer and have the option of walking up several flights of curly stairs or riding a claustrophobically petite (and all the more charming for it) escalator to the relevant floor. And then, of course, to enter an utterly swoon-worthy apartment and eat a meal that’s been prepared in an ACTUAL Parisian kitchen with market-sourced ingredients arranged simply, so as to let their flavours and freshness shine.
The following day, we see people posing outside the Louvre, making endless attempts to achieve that ubiquitous Insta-shot that makes it look as though they’re setting the pyramid down with their finger and thumb. Smugness isn’t pretty, but you can blame us for allowing ourselves to indulge in a brief flicker of it?
Hôtel Lumen Paris Louvre is a Wanup Select hotel. Stays at Hôtel Lumen Paris Louvre start from €178.5 per room per night. To find out more about Wanup Club, visit www.wanup.com