As a novice backpacker, there are a handful of affordable accommodation choices one has. Couch-surfing aside, some prefer the liberty and comfort sans the shyness with a more than hospitable host. With hotel rooms or bed & breakfasts being too pricey or backpacker hostels seeming more like a can of sardines, Japan introduced something called ‘Capsule Hotels’ where each individual gets their own personal cocoon-like capsule in a room shared with other cocoon residents.
This is not something recommended for those who are claustrophobic! However, most others can learn what it feels like for an astronaut, in their own personalized cabin in a rocket (without the lovely window view to the outside world).
Each cocoon acts like a little horizontal space for yourself along with some amenities and a shutter to pull down for privacy. Made mostly with standard plastic and fibre glass, each capsule measures about 6, 5 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet, stacked side by side next to other capsules, all fitted with numbers to identify each one. They are generally two-levels high along with stairs or a ladder to climb up to the upper-level capsules. Each room generally has about 15 to 20 capsules and some hotels even provide options of mixed, male or female only rooms.
Although facilities per capsule hotel differ, the founder of YO! Sushi restaurant chain, Simon Woodroffe, created ‘Yotels‘ as an eccentric but luxurious solution for overnight transit travellers or just the curious visitor who wants to retire and relax in their own space for a while. Apopular ‘Yotel’ is located in Heathrow Airport Terminal 4, where each room is equipped with a double bed, a television, shelves and a sexy bathroom with a see-through glass door and walls that divide it from the bedroom.
Along with the traveller’s need for free Wi-Fi, the hotel provides complimentary hot drinks such as tea or coffee and has a ‘food to go’ menu available 24/7 that can be ordered from what they quirkily call, ‘Mission Control’.
This unconventional yet clever use of small spaces has inspired some hotel entrepreneurs like Simon, and the trend is slowly starting to catch on. Some of the most popular capsule hotels are in Amsterdam called Qbic, known for its psychedelic colour schemes as capsule choices, Woke Home in Singapore, which provides free breakfast and New York’s Pod Hotel, located almost a stone’s throw away from the cites main attractions.