This Smartphone Can Be Your Personal Concierge in Paris
The next must-have accessory for travelers to Paris just might be the Insidr — a 4G smartphone, 24-hour concierge, and comprehensive travel guide all rolled into one. The device was launched by brother and sister cofounders and Paris natives Ben and Nina Forlani, whose aim is to provide a seamless travel experience for visitors who want to live like a local without too much legwork. “We love our city and wanted the tourists who come here to have an authentic experience,” Ben says.
The Insidr, which can be rented by the day and is operable throughout France, provides unlimited calling and texting within Europe as well as unlimited Web browsing. Starting in June, the device will also allow users to call and text U.S. and Canadian numbers for an additional fee. The Insidr comes equipped with a mobile hot spot, meaning you can also use it to connect your laptop or iPad to the Internet without having to hunt for a network.
But it’s the Insidr’s Paris-specific features that are arguably its biggest draw. There’s a maps app, which includes a dozen guided walks throughout the city’s neighborhoods that call out points of interest along the way, as well as another app that can be used to book a range of activities and unique experiences, such as a meeting with a cheese monger or private yoga lessons.
There’s also a chat-messaging app for connecting with 100 locals—personally selected by Ben and Nina—who can send recommendations on everything from the latest must-hit nightlife spots to favorite day trips outside Paris. And that’s in addition to the invaluable concierge service from Insidr’s team of seven dedicated specialists, who are available around the clock to help with restaurant and hotel reservations, airport transfers, guided tours, and other services. Users also get real-time alerts on any disruptions happening in the city, such as taxi or public transportation strikes—an all-too-common occurrence in France.
Travelers can reserve an Insidr on the company’s website. A company employee will meet you in the arrivals hall of Paris—Charles de Gaulle Airport to deliver the phone, or you can pick it up at a designated location in the city. Drop-off is equally simple, and the price point—between $7 and $10 a day—is sweet, too.
Zach Scott, a restaurant-industry executive based in San Francisco, used an Insidr on a recent trip to Paris with his family and says they had a better experience because of it. “We relied on the concierge service to make restaurant reservations for us almost every day because it’s a hard thing to do if you don’t speak French,” Scott told Travel + Leisure. They also used it to find a local yoga studio, refill a prescription, and book a pottery class in English. The biggest benefit, he said, was that Insidr released him from having to research everything ahead of time. “Some of the best travel experiences are those catalyzed by passion and adventure that can’t be planned,” Scott said.