As you may remember from my Instagram, a few weeks ago my lovely assistant and friend, Rachel, and I were guests of Livly to review their short stay experience in Chicago. I heard about this new take on an Air B&B from FLATS. They partnered with the company to offer cozy accommodations to locals looking a staycation, and travelers alike. I’ve worked with FLATS before and absolutely love the company and our relationship- they are incredibly professional, fun to collaborate with and live up to their reputation of luxury living prioritizing their community. I wish the same could be said about their partner Livly. When my contact at FLATS connected me to the short stay management company they hired, I was excited. I don’t live in the city and unfortunately at this time FLATS only has locations in city. This was my chance to live like a FLATS resident for the weekend! I was hesitant to post this review as it’s negative, but I’ve had blogger friends and people in general message asking if they should stay here or list their property with them, and I can not in good conscious say yes- this is why.

Livly Company Chicago

As you can tell from the title of this post, my experience with Livly Chicago was less than ideal. May 13th FLATS connected me to the company and started the process for our partnership collaboration. With A LOT of back and forth between the Livly team, the communication just stopped. It wasn’t until September when I had another partnership meeting with FLATS that they asked me to reach out again so we could all move forward with content development. This time communication went more smoothly. The team responded- this time with more clear answers. The first round of contact, they appeared to be more all over the place- unsure how to effectively work out a partnership and manage that. Which, okay, I understand if it’s new and a company is trying to find their footing. I have absolutely no issue with companies learning as they go and trying new marketing routes. What was off-putting for me was the abrupt ending of communication and how much back and forth there was exactly. When materials were delivered and the objective was outlines by their client, FLATS, and also myself, we felt like they were just looking for any excuse not to follow through. Not only is this unprofessional, but it’s aggravating when two other parties are coordinating schedule and allocating resources to develop a project.

Fast forward to September when I reached out again. The pace was MUCH better and they admitted to having a better idea and a process for collaborations for FLATS connections. What made me a bit uncomfortable was how they ended up cutting their client FLATS out completely. I was told that I would be signing a contract with them and there was no mention of FLATS whatsoever in it. I understand they’re a separate company, but I was developing a campaign specifically with FLATS and would be reviewing a FLATS apartment short stay. I also had to outline my deliverables, which I thought was odd. Usually when a brand/ company asks me to develop a campaign for them, they have at least one requirement for media and/ or copy. The only requirement they had was regarding social sharing, which I expected- I had to tag Livly in all of my social media posts.

I ended up outlining and creating a campaign with FLATS and emailed the deliverables to Livly for what I would be providing- since they didn’t ask me to complete additional campaign requirements, I thought this would be the most efficient for Rachel and I as we only had the apartment for 24 hours.

The Deliverables:

  • An in- depth article feature reviewing the Livly short stay.

    • Original and high quality photography

    • Social sharing

    • Newsletter inclusions

  • An additional feature in my area specific travel guide with the same secondary marketing.

Livly requested my media kit to view what these deliverables would look like and I gladly sent my info. Later that day they called because we agreed a phone call would be easier than emailing. A few minutes into the call I realized they really hadn’t read my email responses. I recapped just incase they weren’t able to get to their laptop and this was part of the reason they were calling- I’ve been there before and get it- especially during a busy season. I referenced my media kit and was interrupted with a scoff and commentary that their team “didn’t look at it because it was long”. Um… first of all, a media kit is super short. Mine has more photos than words on it and a first or second grader could keep up with it. There’s nothing complex in or on a media kit. It includes my name, blog summary/ overview, follower count, and includes the topics I focus on/ my audience loves- which links to my website for a company to view the related articles. Then I have photos so it doesn’t look “overwhelming”. I was honestly aggravated at this point and ended up saying something along the lines of a media kit is provided to answer any questions for statistics and branding with article layouts they can see. Myself and other bloggers- really anyone for that matter doesn’t want to sit here answering questions about something when a document was provided that would answer everything. It’s one thing if there wasn’t time to view the file, but to blatantly admit they couldn’t be bothered to look at it because they thought it was “a lot” is incredibly unprofessional and not to mention disrespectful.

Another thing that screamed unprofessional was not receiving my contract until 4:06PM the day before my stay.

My official scheduling email was sent to me and I was annoyed with how taxing this process was- I wasn’t even in the apartment shooting the content yet. There was no reason I should this be exhausted. One of the 3 (or maybe it was 4 in the end) employees ended up emailing me this about check-in instructions: “these usually come in several different e-mails but since you’re not going through our official calendar I wanted to get everything to you in the same place for easy reference”.

Questions/ concerns I had

  1. Why aren’t I going through the “official calendar” if I’m reviewing the process as anyone booking their stay would? If a feature is inaccessible, I understand that, but I didn’t receive a confirmed booking email as I have with other travel blogging and hospitality partnerships.

  2. How many emails do people get?! Yeesh.

The “easy reference” for my check in was NOT there. They sent me a super long email detailing the building- even including a google drive link with a single photo of the apartment building- odd, but okay I rolled with it. There were detailed directions for accessing the key. I would have to access the lockbox on the outside of the building. When I arrived, there maybe 10 (give or take) lockboxes and the email didn’t say which one I would need to access. I spent a good 10 minutes trying to figure out which one it was and manually entering the code into each and every lockbox. Not to mention, I was lugging heavy camera gear around and suitcases- not ideal.

Rachel and I made it to our apartment and decided to do the walk through media tour for Instagram (as required), and then we headed out to grab dinner. When we got back, we did a more in depth walk through and noticed A LOT wrong and were uncomfortable staying there. We thought maybe we were being silly with some things, so we decided to clean up the apartment that was supposed to be clean upon arrival and make the best of it! We hit pause because we realized we needed to shoot content- we were on a time crunch and taking the time to go though the place and clean up was not on our agenda. For a company- especially in hospitality to self-proclaim they are “luxury” and then face these inconveniences was beyond disappointing. PSA Livly, Luxury doesn’t equate to minimalistic. Luxury is clean. Luxury is functional. Luxury is convenient for guests.

Rachel and I noticed it wasn’t one or two things in the apartment and there was something wrong in every room. We overlooked the patio door sticking and locking one of us out. We overlooked the broken radio/ AUX player. We overlooked the dirty dishes in the dishwasher but we were annoyed with the other discoveries. We ended up taking photos of everything so we could send it to the management and request a new room. We ended up switching rooms twice.

Livly’s contract and marketing states that “Short Stay is your Chicago-based hospitality company bringing you an elevated rental experience. Luxury housing & amenities in premiere locations with advanced technology for easy accessibility. We are here for the stays that are short & sweet”. This is a bold declaration considering the outcome of my stay.
— Livly/ Short Stay Chicago

first apartment

  1. Cleanliness was LACKING- modern and organized doesn’t mean it’s clean- which, it wasn’t.

  2. “Perks” are only perks if they work.

  3. Double shower head was broken and stuck

  4. Kitchen sink pressure was spraying all over and stuck

  5. The dishwasher rack was broken

  6. Bluetooth/ radio was broken

  7. Towels and sheets were literally thrown in the bathrooms and bedrooms

  8. There was broken glass all over in the master bedroom closet which I ended up stepping on

  9. There was dust EVERYWHERE

    • The vents had half an inch layered on them- both on the floor and the ones on the walls

  10. There was NO disclosure that this was a pet suite and there was pet hair ALL OVER THE PLACE

    • Not only was I beyond allergic, it was gross.

  11. There was hair in the water pitcher

  12. There was hair and dirt in the fridge

  13. The paper towels were opened and thrown under the kitchen sink

  14. There weren’t any kitchen towels

  15. There weren’t any cleaning or sanitizing products

  16. The sponge on the kitchen sink smelled and was sopping wet

  17. There was smelly garbage in the can which they have exposed in the open space layout

  18. There were water and food stains on EVERY SINGLE kitchen item we went to use

  19. Dirty dishes in the sink AND dishwasher

  20. The couch and bed looked sloppy and lived in

    1. Pillows had hair all on them

    2. Sheets and covers were NOT fitted and all wrinkly

  21. The grill cover outside was thrown around the patio along with the dirty utensils

  22. There was also a flash drive we found on the floor in the master bedroom

  23. There were food stains (at least what appeared to be) on the walls

  24. When the bedding was pulled back, there was visible dirt all on the sheets, pillows, etc.

  25. Windows didn’t open

  26. Windows had thick cobwebs on the first floor and the screens were damaged

  27. A broken chair and table was stored in the master closet

  28. Mold in the shower

  29. Hair on the shower wall

  30. Un-flushed toilet (and someone went #2- GROSS!)


  32. Crumbs on all the counters, table, and floors. We were constantly crunching when walking and wiping our hands off.

    • I have food allergies to peanuts and wheat/gluten and this in particular set me off to a whole new level of aggravation.

  33. The carpets smelled like urine

  34. We were also right next to the dog are- as in we walk outside and there’s their bathroom.

    • I have two dogs, so pets don’t bother me, but again, this wasn’t disclosed and is off- putting for guests who aren’t prone to pets.

  35. The Wifi was down

Honestly, the first place was a hot mess. I felt dirty sitting anywhere and it was poorly taken care of. It was as if I was staying in someone’s dirty home and was un- welcomed. It was incredibly uncomfortable and not cozy. Livly does not live up to the “luxury housing & amenities” claim.

We moved apartments. The only good thing about this experience was one of their team members coordinating with us at 11PM to find the next closest empty room. But, the second apartment was worse.

The Second apartment

  1. Larger and dirtier

  2. There weren’t any beds made. The bedding was THROWN in the corner of the rooms in a ball.

  3. The mattresses were stained and smelled

  4. There were things in the wash

  5. Again, un-flushed toilets

  6. A paper towel holder was on the floor in the middle of the kitchen… with no paper towels in sight

  7. Pet hair galore… again

  8. Dust, dust, and more dust- at least it wasn’t in the fridge this time

  9. Carpet stains

The appearance in the living section of the apartment was better, but the beds were absolutely disgusting. There was NO way we were going to sleep on dirty, smelly mattresses that had bedding thrown in the corner of the room and smelled just as bad, if not worse. So, we moved again- this time from River North to Pilsen.

The third apartment

This was one clean- finally! There were a few things that we said “c’mon, really?!” to- but at this point, the beds were clean, the doors locked, and we were tired.

We were in the final apartment in Pilsen at 2 something AM. We were woken up at the crack of dawn by incredibly loud barking- CRAP was this loud. We thought dogs got into our apartment somehow- it was ROUGH- especially for Rachel who is a light sleeper. I ended up putting a pillow over my head and forced myself to go back to sleep for a few more hours.

When we woke up, I got a text saying we would need to be out of the apartment by 10AM… ummm WHAT?!?!?

We needed to start shooting content for this location because what little content we obtained in between cleaning, picking up glass, moving apartments TWICE, walking a few blocks for parking, and driving to Pilsen (which ended up being a 27 minute drive due to construction), wasn’t going to match this new apartment for a review. All we had was balcony shots with the city view and this doesn’t match the Pilsen building or location.

SIDE NOTE: For parking I asked prior to the stay if there is on-site parking because I swear FLATS mentioned it. Livly told me this was not available or included for out building at all and we later found there was on site parking with available spaces specifically for short stay and other guests.

We had 3 hours to do 8 hours of shooting.

In the middle of the shoot there was a knock on our door. There was a man on the other side asking to come in and store things in the closet. We were creeped out. It turns out he works for Livly but the whole thing was weird. He was lugging personal items and had us wondering if their employees are using the FLATS apartments for personal use instead of adhering to business agreements and actually maintaining their client’s properties. I’m glad this wasn’t my first impression or experience with FLATS because it not only cheapens their brand but makes them appear as a low-quality overpriced apartment complex, which they are not. Aside from my business relationship with FLATS, I have quite a few friends who reside in their various locations. They offer quality and professional weekly cleaning services for their residents and keep their community spaces impeccably clean. I chatted with friends about their experience and they don’t have any quality issues with what they are paying for. They are truly living up to and in the luxury apartments they claim to be. Livly sabotaging their brand and putting FLATS at risk for serious issues. Could you imagine what would have happened if those crumbs ended up being peanut crumbs and I went into anaphylactic shock? What would have happened if Rachel or I slipped on the glass and ended up really injuring ourselves? What would have happened if someone from the neighboring apartments climbed over the attached balcony and entered the apartment we were staying in since the door didn’t lock?

I do not recommend booking with Livly. I would much rather stick with Air B&B as they have a higher standard for cleanliness and safety- at least in the various areas I’ve stayed- Chicago, New York, and New Jersey.

Conclusion- Not luxury by any means.

I offered to come back for a re-do of my review and explained that I understood if Livly was not aware of employees failing to complete tasks and adhere to their job. However, this would have to be done with a bit more notice because my assistant Rachel came in from out of state for this. The initial reply from them was that Livly would not be able to accommodate these needs and suggested I would have to pay for the second review, in order to complete the content. As someone who was reviewing their services, I think this off-putting. Not only do I think it’s rude to ask me to pay for a makeup stay considering the circumstances, the only reason I was there in the first place was because of a partnership agreement for me to promote their brand. This wasn’t me needing a an event space or photo space for personal projects. If that was that case, I completely understand why I would be expected to follow their rates- but this was a media trip/ agreement.

I still haven’t heard anything to this day about rescheduling, however, I am excited to share that I have other fun hospitality and travel articles coming soon to the blog!

Not only was it a poor relationship between guest and host, but poor business etiquette. I don’t recommend Livly for business or hospitality. Bloggers/ Influencers/ those in the media realm check out your local Bed & Breakfasts and hotels instead. I’ve had better service and overall experience from “average” hotels.

Lastly, a “luxury” stay means having the basics of a cleanly room, plus added amenities- and having those work.

Photos: Livly

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