Airport Sleeping Pods – The Next ‘Big’ Thing?
The Japanese were certainly onto something when they opened the first capsule hotel opened in Osaka in 1979, and now airports around the world are embracing the concept, offering short stay micro-rooms to passengers in transit or suffering delays. While the rooms themselves may not appeal to everyone, especially claustrophobics, they certainly beat sleeping across a row of chairs or on dirty airport carpet.
The latest airport to join this list is Xi’an Xianyang airport in China, the gateway to the Terracotta Warriors. 20 wooden cabins dubbed measuring just 2.4 metres long, 1.6 metres wide, 2.7 metres high have been set up in Terminal 3 at the airport that handles over 18 million passengers annually. The cabins are known as a ‘Beehive’ and feature a two-meter-long bunk bed, a bed-side table, a LCD TV, a fold-up table, power plug, a mirror, a window and blinds, Wi-Fi, a light and even a safe.
Guests will need to leave their room and use the airport bathroom facilities however. A 30 minute power nap will set you back RMB30 (AUD$4.50) or RMB60 for two hours, additional hours are available at RMB40. The Beehive has created a bit of controversy as it appears as an unauthorised imitation of the Sleepbox set up at Moscow Airport.
Debuting at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport in August last year and due to be expanded later this year to include more pods as well as student accommodation in central Moscow, the Sleepbox is a cosy 4 square metres and can fit up to three single bunk beds in a tightly packed arrangement with bedside tables and a television. There are only two pods currently set up at the airport with two single bunks for that extra bit of space.
Sleepbox does seem to be fighting a losing battle against copycats with New Delhi Airport also installing almost identical pods, Sleepboxes are being custom made and sold to the general public for around USD$10,000 a unit plus shipping costs (though it may be cheaper to get one of the knock-offs from China or India).
With typical German efficiency, Munich Airport has installed Napcabs, these self-service sleeping pods offer a little more comfort than the Sleepbox and its imitators. As well as a bed the room offers a desk, adjustable air conditioning, internet access and a touchscreen multimedia entertainment and control module. Guests can also choose from range of mood lighting settings as well as including iPod connectivity. The pod also provides flight information so you know if you can sleep in. You are able to safely store your luggage during your stay using the large storage space. Staff are notified on departure and they come to tidy the pod and make the bed up with fresh linen.
Less portable, but more spacious are the offerings that Yotel has at Terminal 4 in London Heathrow, the South Terminal at London Gatwick and Amsterdam Airports. With rates starting from around GB£27.00 for four hours or GB£60.00 overnight and design inspirations taken from first class cabins, the 7 to 10 square metre rooms come with single or double bedding as well as your own bathroom and entertainment system. Yotel has also set up a similar style hotel in New York City near Times Square with over 650 slightly larger rooms available.
Terminal 1 at Dubai International Airport is the home of the SnoozeCube, designed by a Kiwi, the 10 pods have been in operation since October last year. The compact room have a single bed high speed internet, and a touch screen TV all for AED55.00 (USD$16.00) an hour. The cubes have been a hit with travellers since they opened and though the rooms are soundproofed information about the airports flight information is ready available from within the cube so passengers won’t have to fear missing their flights. Online reservations are still a work in progress and email reservations can take up to 24 hours to be confirmed so it may pay to plan ahead, or at least be prepared to run to the cubes should your flights be cancelled or delayed.
Located at the busy hub airports of Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and Philadelphia International Airport, Minute Suites provides travellers with a 6square metre room complete with a sofa style daybed (those in Philadelphia have an additional pull-out trundle) pillows and blankets, along with a 32-inch HDTV that also can be used as a computer with a wireless keyboard and mouse. The in-room ‘workstation’ features a desk, phone and office chair designed to appeal to business travellers.
The company is currently undergoing expansion and will open two sites at Dallas Fort Worth airport shortly. Rooms are USD$32.00 and hour and then billed in USD$8.00 per 15 minute increments or a flat rate of $120.00 overnight. Guests will also be able to earn Delta Skymiles when booking.