If you’re looking for the hottest trends in travel, look no further than pod hotels. Hotels aren’t generally ones that experience trends. Essentially they are all the same, just differentiated by their location, construction, facilities, services provided and price. It’s great to see, therefore, that something is shaking up the establishment and introducing something new to the scene. Pod hotels take their inspiration from Japan (as so many modern things do) where capsule hotels have been around for decades. They are small, compact, design innovative, putting function over form, yet still retaining more than an element of taste and style. The no frills approach means they are cheaper than their conventional equivalents. You may not want to spend a fortnight in one, but for short trips, pod hotels are ideal.
1 Qbic, Amsterdam
The best pod hotels know how to make the most of a small amount of space and that’s certainly true for Qbic in Amsterdam. Each room is just about 75 square feet, yet manages to include extra-long beds and a work area. If you’re going to share one of the “cubi” rooms, you can’t be shy as the bathrooms are part of the room area with no dividing door – although, the Philippe Starck bathroom fittings will give you something nice to look at. There’s even mood lighting installed, so depending on your frame of mind, you can opt for deep purple love, mellow yellow or red romance.
2 Capsule Inn Akihabara, Tokyo
It’s only right to include one of Japan’s capsule hotels. Invented for the businessman who needed somewhere cheap and simple to crash, typically capsule hotels are blocks of sleeping compartments with communal lounges and baths. Because of the community facilities, not all capsule hotels are open to Westerners and also, some do not accept female guests. One that does, however, is the Capsule Inn Akihabara in Tokyo. If you don’t mind sharing facilities and sleeping in a capsule that is about 3 foot high and 6 foot long, this would be a cheap stay in the Japanese capital.
3 Tune Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
This is one of the pod hotels that really has stripped away everything and provides only the basic amenities. You don’t get a television, phone, coffee machine or even a closet, but you get a nicely compact room that is stylish with sleek décor and has unique wall art. You also have to pay for towels and toiletries as they aren’t provided in the room and the same goes for air conditioning, although each room does have a ceiling fan. There’s no room service either but the hotel café is open all day. The Tune hotel is painted red and white outside so you can’t miss it, and is ideally located in downtown KL.
4 Easyhotel, Dubai
If you’re British you’ll already be familiar with the “Easy” group. The brains behind easyJet – Stelios – has entered the hotel market and pod hotels are his choice. Never one to stand around, there are already 20 easyHotels in locations as varied as Larnaka (Cyprus), Sofia (Bulgaria) Zurich (Switzerland) and Johannesburg (South Africa). I think he has been very astute in opening in Dubai. In a place that is known for the ultimate luxury in hotels, easyHotel Jebel Ali provides a nice low cost option. It’s also good to know that the newly constructed hotel is the first Gold LEED hotel in Dubai (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design), so not only do you get a cheap stay, you are also being kinder to the environment.
5 Yotel, New York
Yotel is operated by Simon Woodroffe (and partners), the man behind Yo! Sushi. The concept transfers the best of aircraft first class berths to hotel space. The rooms are called cabins and are designed for individuals with the minimal amount of space needed to “relax, refresh, connect and sleep.” Everything is smooth with automated check in and out, and all rooms have workstations with multi power points, free Wifi, flat screen televisions, laptop safes, and powerful monsoon showers with all-over body wash. There are stunning city views but there are no in-room refreshments. There is, however, a galley kitchen on every floor with complimentary hot drinks, purified water and ice 24/7. The Yotel NYC is in Times Square in the heart of the action, and even though the rooms are small, the hotel itself boasts the largest hotel terrace in New York, lounge areas, 4 bars and a restaurant.
6 Nitenite Cityrooms, Birmingham
It doesn’t sound like a glamorous location but Birmingham is the UK’s second city, and central hotel rooms are in big demand by business travelers, conference attendees and leisure seekers staying overnight after visiting fairs or concerts at the National Exhibition Centre and the renowned Hippodrome. The rooms are about 73 square feet and fitted out in cherry wood with leather furniture. Probably not the best choice in pod hotels for the claustrophobic, as all the rooms are windowless, but they do have a 42 inch plasma TV which can be tuned into a channel which shows the goings on in the street outside.
7 Tubotel, Langkawi
A few years back Andy Strauss had the bright idea of making room in giant concrete sewer pipes and the Dasparkhotel in Austria was born. Few have followed his idea. There is a similar, but more swanky tube hotel in Tepozltan, south of Mexico City (if it is still operating) and following the same principle is the Tubotel in Langkawi, a popular tourist destination in Malaysia. Each pipe room at the Tubotel has a diameter of just over 8 feet – enough to house a king size bed with storage room underneath. Oh and you get a lamp and a fan. And that’s it. Bathrooms are shared. The view of the Andaman Sea comes free, as do the groovy parties the hotel organizes each weekend.
Well there you are – a selection of the pod hotels that are springing up all over the place. I can’t see myself vacationing in one (well maybe in Malaysia) but for short trips I think they’re brilliant. What do you think?