June 19th, 2007
Yo brother! A style that swept Japan* in the 1970s is back with a vengeance and about to land at airports. It’s called capsule sleeping Jim, but not as we know it ….
Yotel has announced that online bookings open next month for its new cabin capsule accommodation at Gatwick airport outside London. Just like flying, you can choose your sleeping class, the difference being between a 10 sq metre or 7 square metre cube, both with “internal rather than external windows”, which doesn’t sound very appealing.
A Yotel Heathrow is due to open in September and a third is planned for central London in 2008. The brains behind this new/old style sleepover is the man who spread the Yo! sushi train concept around London.
Simon Woodroffe explains the cabin window conundrum thus: “Windows face onto a corridor. Of course, guests can have total light and sound privacy by just closing the shutters if they wish.”
This total lack of natural light makes Yotel sound like the airport cousin of those cheap and windowless easyHotel rooms in central London, Budapest and Basl. But Woodroffe reckons Yotel’s improved comforts will win over fatigued business travellers.
A night in a standard Yotel capsule will cost $130 but, if faced with sudden delays or lengthy lay-overs, you can book a minimum initial four-hour block ($58 standard, $94 premium) then stay on by the hour (from $11.50 an hour, standard cube).
Yotel Gatwick is located in Gatwick’s South Terminal. Each air-conditioned cabin has a sofa that converts to a bed, a work desk, en-suite bathroom with shower, free Internet connection and flat-screen TV. Food can be ordered from an on-screen cabin service menu or eaten in a 24-hour galley.
Expect the concept to spread worldwide. Does it sound like your kind of place? Or does it leave you lukewarm, like those unwanted dishes on a Yo! sushi train?
* In 1972 Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa ushered in a cubic revolution with his Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo’s Ginza district. This world first had 140 fully-furnished, box-shaped replaceable living units suspended from a central core. Kurokawa’s ideas for the high life didn’t catch on but stripped to its bare bones the cube concept was a runaway success – the Japanese capsule hotel. Kurokawa later designed Kuala Lumpur’s international airport.