What’s a “capsule hotel”?

A small hotel room.

Like, really small.

According to the Economist:

With their tiny, cupboard-like rooms and prices as low as ¥2,000 ($18) a night, capsule hotels have existed in Japan since the 1980s, but have not caught on elsewhere. They have, however, helped to inspire a new breed of inexpensive, no-frills hotels outside Japan that are not quite as small and not quite as cheap.

Recently, however, companies have jumped into the business.

easyHotel, run by easy, the conglomerate behind easyJet, easyCar, easyMobile, and easyJobs (enough, already), has opened several properties, including three in London, two in Switzerland, one in the Czech Republic Hungary … and one in Tajikistan (?).

The one in Kensington sounds nice:

On a regal Kensington terrace that’s convenient for west and central London, easyHotel applies easyJet’s no-frills model to accommodation. Booking well in advance can get you a room for two people for as little as £25 a night; at short notice the price rises to about £50.

I looked online and was able to find a room (with a window …) for $95 USD per night. Housekeeping and TV service is extra, but you get your own bath.

Meanwhile, in New York City, the Pod hotel opened earlier this year, with the same general concept.

We stayed there, a couple months ago, when the Waldorf-Astoria was sold out.

The hotel is in a good, safe location, although a bit of a hike from Times Square on foot. It is nicely decorated. The lobby is bright and clean, and guests were seen throughout, typing away on their laptops.

The elevator broke on the way to the room, which caused a momentary riot (it was about the width of three people, so add luggage and you’re in for quite the ride), but it started going, soon thereafter. (We just jumped up and down until the gears got loosened up.)

The room is small. A twin bed, and about two feet more, on one side. There is a sink in the room. You put your clothes under the bed (what we used to call a trundle bed, back on the prairie), and there is a small desk.

It included a private bath with shower. There are also rooms with a shared bath, one or two per floor, I think.

The room cost $189 per night, which seemed ridiculous, but there were absolutely no rooms at all in the entire city under $500 per night.

Usually, you can get a room with a private bath for $109 (plus tax); shared baths run as low as $89.

I think the idea is a good one. It’s all about price, location and safety, for most (young) travelers. Give them a private, secure room in a downtown location, and they’ll be happy.

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