Five Great Pod Hotels
Lists: Travelers can save big bucks at pocket-sized pod hotels. Jennifer Plum Auvil offers her top picks.
03.23.09 | 8:19 AM ET
Who says bigger is better? Hoteliers around the world are perfecting the concept of the space-saving Japanese capsule hotel. Check out our favorite pods—and remember to pack light.
The Pod Hotel
New York, New York
New Yorkers know how to make the most out of tight quarters with notoriously small studio apartments. At the country’s first pod hotel, the city shares its space-saving penchant with visitors.
The Pod Hotel has 347 ultra-compact and ultra-cool rooms inspired by the streamlined accommodations on planes, trains and boats. The hotel shakes up the customary standard and double rooms with a variety of configurations, including bunk beds and “odd pods,” which appeal to groups and families with townhouse-style suites. Many rooms come with a private bathroom, but those that don’t feature an electronic display to let you know when the lavatory is in use to avoid any awkward moments. When travelers aren’t taking advantage of their high-tech rooms, they are likely to be found socializing on the rooftop deck and indoor/outdoor garden café.
Rooms can be reserved at less than $100 a night, a small price for a prime location in Manhattan’s Midtown neighborhood.
Gatwick Airport, England
It’s possible to sneak a nap while waiting at an airport gate, but Yotel England gives travelers good, cheap reason to stop sleeping on terminal floors, using a backpack as pillow. Located inside England’s Gatwick airport, Yotel England is tucked away in the south terminal’s international arrivals section and gives travelers a place to rest or recuperate before the next leg of their journey. The only rule is that rooms must be booked for a minimum of four hours, but guests are welcome to stay as long as they’d like.
Yotel packs a lot into the 75 square feet that make up a standard room: a single bed, a foldout desk and a bathroom with shower. Premium cabins feature an additional 32 square feet and a double bed. All rooms offer the simple comforts of home, including bath towels and a hair dryer. And the free internet service lets guests keep working during a layover, or monitor flight status without leaving the comfy bed.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Don’t worry if you blew your budget on the flight to Malaysia. With prices ranging from an astonishing $3 to $30 a night, the boldly painted red-and-white Tune Hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur offers a cheap, well-located base to explore the city’s mosques, gardens and vibrant street life.
Rooms are compact but stylish, with unique wall art and sleek décor. The no-frills approach means you sacrifice many of the standard hotel amenities, including televisions, telephones, coffee machines and closet space. Room service is not an option, but Malaysian white coffee and local and Western fare are available all day long at Uncle John Kopitiam, the hotel’s cafeteria. Towels and toiletries are available for a small fee, so pack your own if you’re looking to save. And while all rooms have a ceiling fan, air conditioning will cost you a few dollars, as well.
Amsterdam’s Qbic Hotel is an ode to space-age decor and accommodations. The hotel’s boxy, uber-modern rooms, called “Cubi,” include extra-long beds, Philip Starck-designed bathroom fixtures and a tricked-out workspace in 75 square feet. With the push of a button, travelers can even create mood lighting to reflect “mellow yellow,” “red romance” or “deep purple love.” A warning to modest traveling companions: The compact bathrooms are short on privacy, with no door separating the bathroom from the sleeping area.
Early birds have the advantage, as booking rates start at around $70 but creep steadily higher the longer you wait to book a room.
Guests at nitenite Cityrooms are invited to sleep tight in this budget boutique’s “small and perfectly formed” rooms. The perfection is packaged in 73 square feet, with sleek cherry-wood and leather furniture, a private bathroom and a 42-inch plasma TV—the latter especially important as this is your porthole to the outside world. Because these pint-sized rooms are windowless, the hotel creatively preempts any claustrophobia by dedicating a channel to showing the street outside. So, every room really does come with a view.