Pod Hotels

Savvy hoteliers around the world are perfecting the concept of the space-saving Japanese capsule hotel.
By: Jennifer Plum Auvil

Who says bigger is better? Savvy hoteliers around the world are perfecting the concept of the space-saving Japanese capsule hotel. Check out these pocket-sized pods - just pack light or you might need to reserve a separate room for your suitcase.

Snooze in the Airport
It's possible to sneak a nap while waiting in the airport, but why use your backpack as a pillow when you can take a first-class nap at economy prices? Yotel England is located inside England's Gatwick airport, tucked away in the south terminal's international arrivals section. Their concept is simple - give travelers a place to rest or recuperate before the next leg of their journey. The only rule is you must book your room for at least 4 hours, but you're welcome to stay as long as you'd like.

Yotel packs a lot into the 75 square feet that make up a standard room. There's a single bed, a foldout desk and a bathroom with shower. Premium cabins boast 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 means that you can keep working during your layover, or just relax and monitor your flight status without leaving the comfy bed.

Nighty Nite, Sleep Tight
Birmingham, England, is well known for its role as the center of the Industrial Revolution. These days, visitors head to Birmingham for the popular museums and to shop and dine at the entertainment complex at Bullring, the revitalized historic shopping plaza that includes 140 stores and 25 restaurants. Check out the new cultural revolution going on, and book a room at nitenite Cityrooms.

Guests 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.

Tune in to Kuala Lumpur
Don't worry if you blew your budget on the flight to Malaysia, because there are plenty of ways to save cash in Kuala Lumpur. The boldly painted red-and-white Tune Hotel offers a great base to explore the city's mosques, gardens and vibrant street life.

Rooms are compact but stylish, with cool wall paintings and sleek decor. 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. 

New York's Pod People
New Yorkers know how to make the most out of tight quarters with notoriously small studio apartments. Now the city is sharing its space-saving secrets with visitors at the country's first pod hotel.

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 the 20-something 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 cafe. 

Amsterdam's Cubi Style
If George Jetson were looking for a place to crash in Amsterdam, he would likely choose the Qbic Hotel. With modern style and a streamlined self-service check-in and check-out process, the cartoon icon would feel right at home.

The hotel's boxy space-age rooms, called "Cubi," include extra-long beds and a crafty workspace in 75 square feet. With the push of a button, finicky travelers can create mood lighting to reflect "mellow yellow," "red romance" or "deep purple love." A warning to modest traveling companions - the compact Philip Starck bathrooms are short on privacy, with no door separating the bathroom from the sleeping area.

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