written by:
June 26, 2014
Size doesn’t always matter when it comes to these diminutive but design-savvy hotel rooms.
A bank of rooms in a capsule hotel in Kyoto
9Hours (Kyoto, Japan)

Fumie Shibata of Design Studio S created this minimal, sci-fi crash pad in Kyoto, named after the average length of a business traveler’s stay (one hour shower, seven hours sleep, one hour rest). The subtle but memorable branding system, which carries through from toothbrush containers to wayfinding systems, is as tech-oriented and soothing as the beds themselves, outfitted with computerized lighting and high-end sheets.

Photo by Underutilized (Creative Commons)

1 / 10
Street view of a capsule hotel at night in New York
Yotel (New York, United States)

Designed to represent a fusion of pod hotels and first-class jet cabins, Yotel is a streamlined resting place in Midtown Manhattan. The space offers comforts without excessive space or cost; a robot porter at the front will work just as hard if you don’t tip him.

Photo by Chris Cofer (Creative Commons)

2 / 10
small designer camping cabin in Washington
Rolling Huts (Winthrop, United States)

A series of six modernist huts created by Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, the Rolling Huts look like rustic case study homes, a herd of designer cabins that just may exemplify the term 'glamping.' Elevated on stilts, the 200-square-foot structures offer another level of outdoor accommodation.

Photos by Chad Kirkpatrick

3 / 10
The bedroom of a designer capsule hotel in hong kong
Mini Hotel (Hong Kong)

Located near the most expensive shopping district in the world, real estate-wise, this spin on a capsule hotel presents crisp, clean aesthetics for travelers in Hong Kong, as well as a welcome oasis of more affordable real estate.

4 / 10
modular hotel with sleeping boxes in moscow
Sleepbox (Moscow, Russia)

Another effective cost coup in an overpriced capital, the Sleepbox in Moscow brings a stylish, plywood aesthetic to the microhotel category. Near the Kremlin, the hotel is built around modular Sleep Box units created by the Arch Group that fit together like a set of rectangular Tetris pieces.

5 / 10
the lounge of a boutique Paris hotel
Citizen M (Paris, France)

The proletariat’s voice is heard at this chain of budget-friendly designer hotels, which adds charm to its compact rooms with custom lighting controls from Philips and a focus on Vitra furniture in the bedrooms and lounges. The bar for good style is always raised in the City of Lights, and this hotel punches above its weight (and price).

6 / 10
A rural hotel in Mexico made from concrete pipes
TuboHotel (Tepoztlan, Mexico)

Based on a similarly tubular take on hotel construction found in Germany, the TuboHotel turns recycled concrete tubing—stacked in pyramids—into outdoor dwellings with commanding views of the Sierra del Tepozteco archeological site. Firm T3arc arrayed the pipes in a random order to showcase the topography of the area.

Photo by T3arc

7 / 10
Beds in a designer capsule hotel in Singapore
The POD (Singapore)

Any comparisons to hostels stops at the door of The POD, the sleek bachelor pad of capsule dwelling. Singapore firm Frameworkz designed every detail in this minimalist but posh set up, from the marble vanities to the beds boasting high threadcount sheets.

Photo by The Pod

8 / 10
Floating capsule hotel at the Hague
Capsule Hotel (The Hague, Netherlands)

It could be the beginning of a trip that takes you away from it all, that is, if the mooring slips. These literal escape pods, repurposed from an oil rig, are now docked by Dutch surfers, members of FAST (Free Architecture Surf Terrain). They rent out these surprisingly stylish rooms, including one made up to resemble a Bond movie prop.

Photo by Henk Kosters (Creative Commons)

9 / 10
Rural Finnish cabins near the Arctic Circle
Kakslauttanen (Saarriselka, Finland)

True, these glass-covered igloos are built for two, but as far as small dwellings go, there are few that can boast such commanding views of the Northern Lights. So remote that it has a section on its website to reassure potential guests that it does, in fact, get phone service, the glass rooms looks like a grid of dots (or perhaps umlauts) against the snow-covered wilderness.

Photo by Kakslauttanen

10 / 10
A bank of rooms in a capsule hotel in Kyoto
9Hours (Kyoto, Japan)

Fumie Shibata of Design Studio S created this minimal, sci-fi crash pad in Kyoto, named after the average length of a business traveler’s stay (one hour shower, seven hours sleep, one hour rest). The subtle but memorable branding system, which carries through from toothbrush containers to wayfinding systems, is as tech-oriented and soothing as the beds themselves, outfitted with computerized lighting and high-end sheets.

Photo by Underutilized (Creative Commons)

A uniquely Japanese innovation that many see as a series of glorified cubby holes for traveling businessman, the capsule hotel may come off as another example of kitsch, with room barely large enough to stretch out and sleep. But the originator of these modular structures, noted Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, saw the future playing out in small, flexible dwellings designed for a more nomadic lifestyle. When the first capsule hotel was built in Osaka in 1979, following on the heels of a 1972 capsule apartment building, it exemplified Kurokawa’s Metabolist philosophy and focus on sustainability and impermanence. With a small footprint and interchangeable structures, it stood as a precursor to today’s green, small-scale urban housing schemes. While Kurokawa’s vision of a more modular city never came to pass, his influence has played out in this series of similarly small-scale hotels, sized for convenience and adaptability and now more functional than futuristic.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

A renovated brick house with metal standing-seam roof in Arlington, Virginia
With a new skeleton, a brick house on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., gets an eco-friendly upgrade—without losing its local charm.
May 05, 2016
simpler times australian vacation home vertical wood cladding
Robust materials and a flexible floor plan help the owners of an Australian vacation home reap maximum rewards.
May 05, 2016
sweet virginia vacation smart home facade granite stucco mahogany siding
This vacation home fosters connectivity in every sense of the word.
May 05, 2016
monkey see monkey do japan living dining room custom kitchen island stove vent eames chairs
And views of the wildlife aren't bad either.
May 05, 2016
Martis Camp 141 in Truckee California
Martis Camp 141 celebrates it mountainous surroundings with local materials.
May 05, 2016
havart 170
Updating standard pieces, designer Gaëtan Havart turns a misused space into a vibrant kitchen.
May 04, 2016
tech support stillwater dwellings prefab exterior napa
In Napa, a custom menu of apps helps a frequent traveler keep track of security—and his garden—from afar.
May 04, 2016
home for good renovation montreal family rear facade steel cladding footbridge garden
This family opens up an old structure and imagines a long-term house.
May 04, 2016
BKLYN DESIGNS 2016 location
From panel discussions to virtual reality demonstrations and more, this weekend will bring out the designer in everyone during BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few activities and installations to check out.
May 04, 2016
cbill timmerman photography jarson residence l7c4109 0
After a successful kick-off program in San Diego, we’re now making our way to Scottsdale, Arizona for the second stop on our Dwell Home Tours series. As the only desert locale on our agenda, we’re giving visitors the chance to explore exquisite modern residences that are fully immersed in the city’s arid landscape.
May 04, 2016
Modern winery in Central California
An updated California winery captures a prestigious architecture award.
May 03, 2016
back to the garden rhode island cottage small space facade landscaping
Outside Providence, Rhode Island, a little retreat takes up no more space than a standard two-car garage.
May 03, 2016
White staircase with skylight and under-stair storage
With clever storage and a retractable skylight, a London apartment feels larger than its 576 square feet.
May 03, 2016
Off-the-grid prefab in pristine Tasmanian landscape by Misho+Associates.
In Tasmania, an eco-conscious architect builds a vacation home that can stand up to an untamed island.
May 03, 2016
30degree pendants by wrong.london
The Danish design brand never disappoints.
May 02, 2016
practical magic brooklyn renocation kitchen caesarstone countertop stainless steel ikea cabinetes green vola faucet
A creative couple flips the script on their family home, a former workman’s cottage on the northern edge of Brooklyn.
May 02, 2016
history lesson kansas city outdoor backyard facade porch saarinen round table emeco navy chairs
An architect pushes the vernacular architecture of Missouri into the modern realm.
May 02, 2016
mission possible san francisco renovation facade exterior french doors cedar
A dilapidated lot in San Francisco gets a second chance.
May 02, 2016
Eames Demetrios of Kcymaerxthaere
The Eames scion and "geographer-at-large" traverses the globe on behalf of Kcymaerxthaere, a network of markers and monuments that tells fictional tales about real-life communities.
May 02, 2016
marcel breuer architect letter office kansas city snower house
See a glimpse into the office of a master architect.
May 01, 2016
Santa Monica living room with an Yves Klein coffee table
Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron talks us through Dwell's May 2016 issue.
May 01, 2016
house that sottsass built maui hawaii memphis group home renovation ettore facade colored volumes
In Maui, of all places.
May 01, 2016
two of a kind padua italy matching family homes facade green roof doors color
For Dwell's annual issue dedicated to dream homes , we visited homes from Haiti to Italy. Here, we introduce you to the photographers and writers who made it happen.
April 30, 2016
houseofweek
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
April 30, 2016
W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016