Capsule hotels got their start in Japan in 1979, when they were invented to cater to those looking to save some serious cash. Businessmen and travelers who required little more than a bed for the night would pay rock-bottom prices for just that: a tiny overnight accommodation, usually stacked above another bed, with a TV mounted to the wall and not enough space to stand up. Communal bathrooms provided a shower and toilet down the hall.
Capsule hotels are still pretty popular in Japan, but the concept has been modified into pod-style hotels in the Western world. Still small on space and easy on the budget, the ones you'll find in the U.S. and Europe (and now many of the capsule options in Asia, as well) also offer various on-site facilities -- plus a sleek, minimalist aesthetic, the option of private bathrooms, and at least enough room to stand up and move around. Take a look at six Western hotels that have picked up on the pod trend.
Motorized beds at Yotel, New York City fold up against the wall for extra space when guests aren’t sleeping. Glass-enclosed private bathrooms help keep rooms bright, and unexpected luxe touches include rainfall showers, feather duvets, and noise-canceling windows.
Each small room at the Qbic Hotel Amsterdam WTC is built around a modular living space called a Cubi that consists of a bed and bathroom with adjustable mood lighting. Some rooms don’t have windows, but the functional design is attractive and prices are low.
Everything from housekeeping to Wi-Fi costs extra at the easyHotel London Earls Court, an outpost of an international pod hotel chain. Bold orange accent walls, flat-screen TVs, and tiny bathrooms make up the itsy-bitsy rooms. The West London location is prime, though, with restaurants, pubs, and Earl’s Court Road within five minutes’ walking.
New York is notorious for small hotel rooms but the pod-style rooms at Pod51, New York City may be the tiniest rooms on offer in the Big Apple. At only 100 square feet, the Double Pod doesn’t offer much space, or style — with white walls, industrial carpet, and a shared bathroom. Pull-out drawers are hidden under the bed. There is a bunk bed option, that’s even cheaper, for those who truly don’t mind cramped quarters.
Arguably one of the most stylish pod hotels on the planet, citizenM Amsterdam City manages to make small look downright chic. White bedding, a glass-enclosed bathroom that looks like it belongs on a space shuttle, and a “mood pad” to control ambient lighting, blinds, temperature, and music in each room make this hotel a destination in and of itself — though it’s a bit far from tourist attractions.
Pod 39 is the grown-up and more fashionable sister hotel to Pod 51. The smallest pods only fit one person, but all have private bathrooms and smart design touches, like storage under the bed. Furniture looks newer and fresher than what’s found at Pod 51; picture wood-paneled walls and subway tiles in private bathrooms. Fun public spaces in the hotel include a Mexican restaurant helmed by renowned chef April Bloomfield and restauranteur Ken Friedman, and a colorful hangout space called The Playroom.
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