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

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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.

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