The new Uber Black cars will let you choose if you want chatty vs. silent mode.
If there’s one thing Martha Stewart is good at, it’s making a house feel like home. Now, she’s doing the same for Uber.
The ride-sharing app has teamed up with the lifestyle media maven to collaborate on the relaunch of Uber Black—a fancier-than-normal Uber experience with new and improved features for riders. The partnership comes on the heels of Stewart’s infamously terrible first Uber ride in November 2018, in which she posted on Instagram about ordering the “most expensive version” of the ride-sharing app, but finding it “a mess inside and out.”
Knowing that Stewart is the hands-down queen of domesticity, it only made sense that Uber would enlist her help to perfect the relaunch and make amends. Hitting your app May 15, the new Uber Black has a variety of features aimed to make your ride more enjoyable. These include ensuring car models are no more than five years old and have a black exterior and interior, only employing drivers with a minimum rating of 4.85, giving riders more time to get out of the house by having drivers wait up to 15 minutes, and giving riders the chance to choose their preferences for temperature, luggage and conversation vs. silent mode.
PEOPLE caught up with Stewart to discuss the luxurious new service, her favorite hot spots these days, and what she posts on Instagram along the way.
Ride Read on.
PEOPLE: So, we all know your first Uber was notoriously not so perfect. What went so wrong?
Martha Stewart: Oh, I know, it was such a disaster the first one. But there were many reasons for that I found out during the ride, from the driver himself. His car had broken down and he had a borrowed car—a borrowed car that seemed like it had been buried in a leaf pile for a month or so! It was so bad.
Yikes, that’s unfortunate!
MS: Yeah. And he didn’t know who I was until like halfway through the ride—he was so embarrassed. But as I said in my Instagram, I’m a big fan of any new technology if it’s useful and offers a good service. And Uber is one of those kinds of services that should be and can be just the most fabulous kind of service, so, I’m very excited that they’ve taken to heart the necessity of having special features that will make our rides even better. I’m also very excited that they’re going public and growing up. It’s a big company.
What’s the new feature you’re most excited about using?
MS: Well, all of it! I have my own kind of Uber Black—my own Suburban car that we fill all the time—but it’s often doing errands, so I take an Uber when I can’t use my own car. And my kind of work means I’m constantly lugging stuff, so having a luggage feature, especially one where the driver will actually help pack the back, is very, very good. Having a quiet car option is also very good, because I’m often on conference calls, or I’m trying to dictate something or trying to write something and I don’t want noise or loud music playing. Also, the idea of having silence is so refreshing! The temperature control is great too, because usually, if I have my druthers, I always sit in the front seat so I can control the heat and the air conditioning. Drivers are always horrified that I want to sit in the front seat, but that’s the way I can control stuff. I’m a demanding client!
Uber has called you the “queen of domesticity”—do you have any etiquette tips for when you’re riding in an Uber?
MS: I am a good tipper, always. I never leave a restaurant or a car without tipping. It’s important, because they’re doing you a service. And I know, having been a self-employed person for many years, that tips are part of their compensation. I also like to comment on their behavior. If it’s terrible I will comment on it—I’m not afraid to. But I also don’t mind saying thank you.
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What are some of your favorite destinations in N.Y.C. that you might need a ride to? Any favorite restaurants?
MS: Well, I eat out a lot because I commute from Bedford, New York. If I leave the city too early I get stuck in traffic, so we have to leave usually after dinner. So, I’m always trying out the new restaurants. Tomorrow night I’m trying out The Fulton, Jean-Georges’ new place—his first fish restaurant, I can’t wait. I also go the West Village a lot, because that’s where my daughter lives. If I go uptown to my apartment on 5th Avenue in the 70s I go to Kappo Masa, that’s one of my favorite restaurants. I also love Perry Street Restaurant, and Kurumazushi for Japanese food.
You have a lot of fans who love following your personal Instagram account—where you posted about your original Uber experience, of course. How do you see your presence on Instagram and where do you get your inspiration?
MS: Well, I do so much in a day, and I’m constantly going places and doing things, so it’s fun to post about it. For example, I get up really early so I get to spend a little time with all the animals that live on my farm, and yesterday I posted a picture of my cat Peony. Peony had just been chased by the dogs and she was kind of irate, so I took a picture of her looking very grumpy, and it got a lot of very interesting comments. It got 10,000 views—that’s pretty good for a little Persian cat! My grandson also had me post that picture of Mohamed Salah, the great Liverpoolian soccer player. I met him at the Time 100 dinner last week and he sent a message to Truman, my grandson, who is seven and is an avid soccer fan. Salah is one of his heroes, so when he got that message he made me post it on Instagram and he watched it get 19,000 likes. So it’s fun. The little children are not really into the social media so much, but they know all about it and they respect that it has a power. Just like Uber!