The Edward Snowden story has put the issue of finding balance between citizens’ privacy and security back in the headlines. But the really pressing question I have is, ‘where is Snowden sleeping?!’
So you’re stuck in the transit zone of an international airport, basically no-mans-land. You’ve got some time on your hands, because you got a few issues to sort out, like finding a final destination where you won’t be arrested. What do you do? Where do you go to get some privacy and catch a little shut eye?
In a Capsule Hotel of course!
Sheremetyevo Airport until recently wasn’t exactly in everyone’s travel lexicon but now most of us are more than familiar with the name of this travel hub, and the ins-and-outs of international transit area protocol.
What’s more, in some respects this story has been a marketing dream for the suppliers of compact airside ‘pod’ hotels. The world has rediscovered the modern delights of rent by the hour, compact ‘hotel’ accommodation.
Capsule Hotels started life in Japan, the land of practical, small and neatly engineered things. Back in the late 1970s these compact accommodation pods were targeting commuters who had missed the last train home or were too drunk after a good evening’s karaoke and sake drinking to drive home or face their spouses. There is a strict protocol to using these types of accommodation in Japan – see here.
Since then Capsule Hotels have come a long way, from tiny horizontally-stacked pods, almost like the niches in a morgue, to mini suites.
Now guests can expect compact accommodation that’s more like a train or boat cabin, with windows, mood lighting, Wi-Fi, TV, and even a private washroom. Some even offer 24 hour ‘room’ service of drinks and snacks.
Designers have wrestled with the conflicting demands of creating highly compact spaces to allow multiple units in a small area, versus maintaining a non-claustrophobic environment for the guest.
So in many cases, materials and lighting have been chosen with great care. Capsules can be clustered within a hotel environment with restaurant, bar and others services.
Capsule Hotels have sprung up across the world at all the major airport hubs, including London’s Gatwick and Heathrow, as well as Amsterdam’s Schiphol, provided by Yotel, a business that wanted to use the ingenuous use of space demonstrated by First Class airline cabins suites and translate that into something on the ground.
Other players include Sleepbox, who also create pod accommodation for railway stations and other travel hubs.
They are increasingly popular in airports where there is a continual demand to get some rest between flights, relax during flight delays, or simply find a place to hang out whilst you figure out where in the world you’re welcome to show-up without getting arrested!