Urban Design (xii) Container Hotel

A while back I posted some pic of a container-style hotel, although actually converting containers to accommodation is very difficult, it is possible to build a new building that looks like stacked containers:

Travel in Europe remains affordable (for me, at least) in part because it is possible to still find reasonably priced accomodation in ideal (for the tourist) locations, ie close to train stations, the sights I want to see, and walkable areas. Last autumn, I never spent over $100cdn per night, even in Paris, Bruges, and Copenhagen.

In part that is because hotels may be older buildings, or have very small rooms. But I also found modern hotels at excellent prices. The contrast to travelling in North America is astonishing, where can one find a (safe) hotel in Ottawa for under $100?

When we say small, we mean small.

This room in a new container-style hotel had rooms 8′ wide by 13′ or so long. It accommodated three in a pinch.

The fold-down bed at the upper left wouldn’t fold up and stay up. Or at least I couldn’t make it.

And if we mosey over to that chair by the window, here’s the view back to the door:

As I said, about 13′ in length, ie length of the bed plus a narrow open closet on the right, then the phone booth sized bathroom. Note the kitchenette on a shelf, where I could make tea in the room which saves a fortune in Nordic countries. The rate of $93Cdn included a very nice buffet breakfast which some guests used to create take-away lunches too.

Peek into the bathroom …

Yes, there is a shower. Notice the curved ceiling track in the bathroom for the curtain. Extend the curtain, shower, step out of shower directly into your room. The walls of the bathroom are themselves the shower walls. Above the hot/cold taps are buttons to select water to the sink or water to the shower overhead.

Everything in these tiny hotel rooms was designed for efficiency, space saving, ease of maintenance, reduced labour costs … and kept the prices down which meant people like me can travel on a budget and still have excellent accommodation.

There are other chains of similar modern hotels with mini accomodation at low cost. Cabinn, Formula 51, some Ibis, etc.

In America it is possible to get older econo hotels for $24 – 79US, but they are usually along freeways and totally auto dependent. Not downtown. And not new, purpose built ones that I have been able to find.

When will these container-sized rooms with low prices come to Canada?



10 thoughts on “Urban Design (xii) Container Hotel

  1. Almost like a sleeper train cabin. It has pleasing amenities so I think it’s ideal.

    1. Mike … i had just come off two weeks sleeping on a canal barge, so the hotel room was comparatively large and spacious. It influences my opinion on micro-housing.

  2. Do you think that these rooms are built somewhere else in series as a complete unit and then installed as one finished room? I have learned that this happens in Canada, where rooms are built in Quebec and shipped to New Brunswick to the hotel construction site.

  3. Hans… i do not know if they are prefabricated. There wasnt any photos on site or mention of that on the literature and i think if they were, they’d say so as it adds to the interest/novelty/appeal.

  4. …and you can go even smaller if you elect the “crawl-in” compartents some Japanese ‘hotels’ are offering. The style of a horizontal compartment seems not to be exported though. Have you any comment on it? I have had good price experience in some B&Bs, but it is a gamble until you get there and see for yourself. After committing with a reservation service, it is pretty difficult and inconvenient to back out.

    1. Ben…i have no experience with coffin hotels or morgue drawers. I havent been to Japan.
      As for online bnb things, i have had good experiences where the host/owner lived there – an agritouismo in Piano di Sorento, in London Ont — and much more dubious ones where the house or apt is a cheapo business, in NYC, Boston, Seattle. And some wonderful bnb business no-host in Venice, in Milan…a real grab bag. I now tend to favour econo hotels again, as they are same price as bnb or shared, and i have a greater chance they meet safety codes. My bnb hunting last fall came to a halt when i found a highly rated uninsulated no inside wall finish garden shed, no running water, bathroom across the garden and in the house, the shed was about 7×5′ for over $100.
      And old folks like me like bathrooms close by.

  5. I think the biggest difference lies in the NA culture and expectations here. We take space for granted and travelers here expect large rooms, 2 queen beds, 39″ flat screen TVs, etc.

    Although some Canadians might be wiling to book these smaller hotels in Europe or here (if they were available), unfortunately I think most NA travelers would stay away and find these inappropriate accommodation choices. Also why a European couple might be more than happy in a 600sq ft flat but the Canadian couple NEEDS a 2,500sq ft semi-detached with a 2 car garage.

    1. We wont know until someone takes a risk and builds some. I think partly it is that the hotel chain executives are upper class and project their wants and easy money onto others.
      I have stayed in airport hotel “overnight” rooms that are tiny and much cheaper, but you have to ask for them. I think it was the constallation hotel near mississauga’s international airport that i remember, and there were wonderful minisuites at a journey end or similar hotel that convinced me that better design is more important than more space.
      Ditto for appartments. We need many more SRO apts, but for anyone to rent, in bldgs like Cornerstone or like university dorms.

  6. As I sit in my tiny rv I admire this small hotel too. Especially livable if temperatures high enough to use the outside as living space. Sightseeing and using the outside, as travelling entails, means large rooms not necessary. Looks spiffy.

    1. Marg…you are so correct. A tiny room like this is a base for outside exploration but not practical for four season’s apt. The design must suit the purpose intended.

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