Goodbye mini bar, hello mini room
New airport hotels to offer a small-scale luxury
Yotels aim to cram luxury hotel amenities into a diminutive cabin.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- While executive class plane seats are getting bigger, hotel rooms it seems are getting smaller.
The coming year will see the launch of Yotel, a new chain of budget hotels which, although not quite as diminutive as Japan's capsule hotels, will see business travelers crammed into 10-square-meter cabins.
Yotel creator Simon Woodroffe, the man behind Britain's successful Yo! Sushi restaurant chain, says he was inspired after being upgraded to business class while traveling by plane.
"I ... thought it would be great to make small capsule rooms for hotels," he told London's Observer newspaper.
Two Yotels are expected to open in the summer at London's main airports. A 40-cabin hotel will open first in Heathrow Terminal 4 followed by a 50-cabin facility at Gatwick's South Terminal.
Fifteen more are on the drawing board, including a London city center branch slated to open in 2007.
Costing roughly 70 dollars a night (but also bookable for four-hour periods), the rooms are aimed at passengers waiting for connections or those who want to sleep or work before a meeting.
The budget hotel concept has already proved a hit in London, with the 2005 launch of easyHotel by no-frills airline pioneer Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
But while easyHotel cuts costs by stripping away luxuries such as televisions, Yotel bosses say their creation will squeeze high-end amenities into rooms.
Each soundproof cabin will contain a sofa that converts into a double bed, a pull down desk, closet space, adjustable mood lighting, a shower, wireless Internet, an iPod connection and a flat-screen TV.
Check-in and check-out will be automated, but food and drinks will be available.
Yotel CEO Gerard Greene described the new creations as "a wake-up call for the hotel industry."
"We have been bold enough to take steps than no other has taken before, allowing us to offer luxury accommodation at an affordable price," he said.
But, like their easyHotel rivals, Yotel rooms may seem a little claustrophobic, with no natural lighting -- a concern that Woodroffe says is likely to be offset by the quality of the product.
"Ask a focus group if they would like to sleep in a 10-square-meter room with no natural light and you won't get many takers -- walk into the Yotel room and you want it," he said.
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