Indian apps offer couples privacy for a price

No marriage, no problem: Indian apps offer couples privacy for a price

On any given evening in Mumbai, dozens of canoodling lovebirds can be spotted along the city's famous seafront

In this photo taken on February 11, 2020 a man uses an app on a tablet to book a couple-friendly hotel room in Mumbai. (AFP Photo)

A new raft of Indian apps which offer rooms to unmarried couples are helping overturn traditional norms in a country where premarital sex remains a taboo.

From StayUncle and BreviStay, which offer hourly packages, to Softbank-funded Oyo, which allows users to search for couple-friendly hotels via its 'Relationship Mode', young entrepreneurs are tapping into a previously neglected market to lucrative effect.

The development is good news for Pooja, a Mumbai-based PR executive who tried to check in to a hotel with her then boyfriend in 2016 and found that the romantic experience quickly turned ugly as staff enquired about her marital status.

"I could feel them judging me," Pooja, whose name has been changed on her request, told AFP.

Stung by their questions, she decided to lie.

"We were both above 18 -- they had no reason to deny us a room, but it was all just so awkward," she said.

On any given evening in Mumbai, dozens of canoodling lovebirds can be spotted along the city's famous seafront, their backs to the slow-moving traffic as they seek out personal space in the world's second-most populous nation.

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