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New Microhotels Fight Airbnb With 65 Square Foot Rooms (nytimes.com) 123

HughPickens.com writes: Amy Zipkin writes in the [New York Times] that a growing number of so-called microhotels are taking a smaller-is-better approach to fight Airbnb, offering rooms in New York City for about $100 a night. The catch? Some rooms measure 65 square feet and offer a shared bathroom. "Disruptions from short-term rentals are creating a whole new supply channel," says Scott Berman. The micro concept first gained traction in Europe with brands like CitizenM and Yotel at airports and in urban centers. Now the model is expanding. Yotel, which has a property in Manhattan, plans to open others in San Francisco, Boston, Miami and Brooklyn, as well as London, Geneva and Singapore. Pod expects to open another hotel in Manhattan, as well as in Brooklyn and Washington. "We are focused on the millennial-minded consumer, with an emphasis on style, attitude and design at an economical value," says Vicki Poulos. But some travelers don't necessarily agree that the comfort level equals that of regular hotels. "At first, it is entirely novel," says Diana Edelman. "But then reality hits that it is nearly impossible to open a suitcase in the room without hitting your head on the bed's 'roof' or that you are showering next to the toilet and sink."
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New Microhotels Fight Airbnb With 65 Square Foot Rooms

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  • Showering (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @05:09PM (#51756437) Homepage Journal
    Showering next to the toilet and sink? Er, is there something wrong with that?
    • I guess I've been doing it wrong at virtually every house, apartment, or hotel room I've ever stayed at.
      • by BeauHD ( 4450103 ) Works for Slashdot
        I've avoided showering because of this very reason. Shower next to a toilet? Gross.
      • I'm picturing something like a small boat's head, where the toilet, shower, and sink all fit into less than one square meter. You pull the sink faucet out on a hose and use that to shower with, standing with one leg wedged against the toilet and door the other against the sink and wall.

        It's fun on a boat, but I am guessing it gets old on land.
        • It is as common for RV vehicles as it is for boats. [And yes, some people live full time that way.]

          • That makes sense. They both have 12VDC electrical systems too. I guess there is a lot of crossover between boat and RV stuff.
            • And there is a lot of crossover between the RVs and the micro homes market (many of which are, I believe, licensed as RVs).. .

    • Re:Showering (Score:5, Informative)

      by fizzup ( 788545 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @05:34PM (#51756671)

      I stayed at an EasyHotel in London. I think it was about 100 square feet (about 10 square meters) and it included a bathroom. It was possible, but not easy, to use the toilet, sink, and shower at the same time. I would have had to stretch out my legs. When you closed the shower curtain, the curtain bulged inwards on the shower stall because the edge of the sink pushed it in. I'm assuming that's what that particular line means. I stayed in London for forty quid a night, though, so I had that going for me, which was nice.

      Here is somebody else's really good picture that shows the layout. [blogspot.com]

      • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @06:03PM (#51756909) Journal

        It was possible, but not easy, to use the toilet, sink, and shower at the same time.

        If I can watch TV while doing all of that, I'm going to book a room there for the rest of my life.

        • by quenda ( 644621 )

          It was possible, but not easy, to use the toilet, sink, and shower at the same time.

          If I can watch TV while doing all of that, I'm going to book a room there for the rest of my life.

          All with the mini-bar in reach!

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        When I was in Sweden a few years ago my friends apartment had a similar albeit larger version of that setup. Seemed fine to me.
      • It was possible, but not easy, to use the toilet, sink, and shower at the same time.

        I'm not even going to ask.

      • by JazzLad ( 935151 )
        From TFS

        and offer a shared bathroom

        So, sharing something like that? eww ...

    • The picture shows something larger than the room I had in a Japanese hotel. Toilet had to be angled into the corner in order to fit.

    • Wow it's not like Hotels in Tokyo haven't been offering tiny rooms (Not much bigger than a wardrobe) since the early 1980s
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Finally a chance to sleep in a tiny cubicle without the MTA getting all up in your face about loitering...

  • by friedmud ( 512466 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @05:12PM (#51756461)

    I've stayed at CitiezenM in Times Square. Damn nice hotel for the price.

    If I'm visiting New York City I'm not there to hang out in the hotel room. All I need is a _clean_ room, soft king bed (I'm tall and my wife likes her space ;-) and a _clean_ bathroom. CitizenM covers this perfectly.

    However, I would personally never stay somewhere with a shared bathroom! That's a bit _too_ "European" for my tastes :-)

    • ...However, I would personally never stay somewhere with a shared bathroom! That's a bit _too_ "European" for my tastes :-)

      As in "European", and so is the strange guy standing next to you?

    • However, I would personally never stay somewhere with a shared bathroom! That's a bit _too_ "European" for my tastes :-)

      I personally would prefer a communal bathroom to a shared bathroom. It obviously needs to be clean but vacationing I use plenty of public toilets in restaurants, etc.. I see no reason that I need a private one in the room that I only come back to at night to crash in. A shower is a different story but again I had no problems with clean communal showers while in college and if the price

    • That's a bit _too_ "European" for my tastes :-)

      I wonder where you have been in Europe, then, 'cause I have never stayed in a hotel or B&B without ensuite bathroom. And $100 - that's £70, which in most places would get you a room af a very reasonable standard. I never expect to pay more than £50 per night, and often less; the cheapest was 29 EUR somewhere in France, and that was basic, but still had ensuite bathroom.

      • by Gryle ( 933382 )
        Both an Italian hotel and a Maltese hotel I stayed in had the options for ensuite or communal bathrooms, with the ensuite bathrooms being higher-priced for the night. These were both older buildings (the Maltese one was 200 years old and undergoing renovations at the time).
  • See, the perfect business opportunity is capsule living for the never ending spinning door of employment known as H1B. For them, they work, live cheaply in a capsule, send money overseas, and go home with work experience and start a business --- all on the backs of middle class Murica. FUCK YA!!!

    • I was actually thinking the same thing.. that this sounds a lot like living in countries I would never want to have to live in.
    • Haha that last line.

      "Oh you thought we were saying 'Fuck yeah' because our H1Bs came in.

      We were saying 'Fuck ya' as in we are literally fucking ya out the door.

      It's gonna be a reaaaal slow one though, so it would be great if you could train up your replacement before we hump you past the security desk."
    • Those guys are just the users in the system. Blame the people who hire them. "Don't hate the player, hate the game."
  • Things Do Not Want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @05:23PM (#51756581)

    I understand that college kids and the young may not care about this sort of thing, it's go cheap or don't go at all. But this is an absolutely terrible idea, that if it catches on, will make business travel even more shitty than it already it for people in most typical bottom dollar employers. Already some of these places have a $25/day restriction on food (McDonalds basically) . It's better not to compete with Airbnb, and let the kids do as kids do and focus on the captive audience that is already paying premium because it can afford it, but doesn't want to afford it.

    • Does this really surprise you though? Every new 'advance' in these micro-payment type solutions is really just making another step down the rung of the downward spiral seem acceptable. After the 65 by 65 room, someone will realize that they can just offer a building full of horizontal sleeping pods and make money.
      • by Adriax ( 746043 )

        Yeah, been done already.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
        A cheap bed for the night when that's all you need.

        • I know. And the places where these exist have real shitty living conditions that come with them.
          • Living conditions? It's a bed! It's not about living.

            I had this argument last time I went on holidays. I suggested the cheapest and nastiest room we could find against a bit of arguing. My point was that I will sleep at a hotel. I will not "stay" at a hotel. If you intend to go to a wonderful new city and spend the entire time in a hotel then look for something 5 star.

            When I'm on business travel I have different requirements to when I am on holidays where all I need is a clean bed and somewhere to quickly w

            • When I was talking about living conditions, I was referring to the pod hotels in Japan. The reason those are a thing is because people are expected to work such long hours and so far away from home that they don't have time to go back even to sleep.

              Now about staying on vacation. I do see your point, but you must have some sort of minimum requirements. The last hotel that I scrimped on, thinking I just needed a place to sleep, had a prostitute in the next room. There were no baseboards, the carpet was
              • Your minimum requirements are obviously different then mine. I like to relax on my vacations and I don't find that kind of lodging relaxing. As a consumer I don't understand a system where we must pay $200 more a night to get $3 worth of shampoo and conditioner and clean sheets.

                It's not minimum requirements, it's expectations. I went on a cruise once. Expensive, clean, I was completely taken care of and bored out of my frigging mind. I relax at home. I go on vacation to see things and do things.

                Booked into a BnB in Luxembourg this coming weekend. 3 of us 100euro / night. Even has a sauna and a pool. I doubt I'll be using anything other than the shower and collapse in the bed, maybe eat the breakfast.

                Hotels are a convenience factor. You may think you're paying for shampoo and a bed

      • in some countries they already do https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
      • You mention this and I started wondering if they are going to try and copy the Japanese with their Capsule Hotel [wikipedia.org]

      • The room is not 65' by 65', it's 65 Square feet. Which means 10' x 6'6", or a shade better than an average prison cell. You want to pay $100.00 USD to sit in jail for a night? good grief, no thanks!
    • by skam240 ( 789197 )

      I'm a grown adult and I love this concept. When i go on vacation I spend as little time in the hotel room as possible anyways. I also value my money and have plenty of other things to spend it on then a large amount of space I'm not going to use.

      I suppose it will be a bit of a drag for those doing business trips and being forced to stay at these places as any work that needs doing in the hotel room will be cramped but I cant imagine it would be that bad. Plenty of college kids make due with similiar accommo

    • As others have pointed it, it depends on what's going on as to whether this is a good thing ... e.g. if you only need to the place to sleep because you'll hardly be in the room but must have a "base" while you're somewhere.

      I first ran into something like this about 10 years ago. In the bottom of the Helsinki airport, there is a Scandic Hotel and each room is about 5m by 3m (probably about double what's in the summary). It's actually a great place to stay when you have a flight before 7am (which would requ
    • for people in most typical bottom dollar employers.

      You're not describing a hotel problem.

    • I understand that college kids and the young may not care about this sort of thing, it's go cheap or don't go at all. But this is an absolutely terrible idea

      I am an adult, and I go CAMPING... For FUN! Do you have any idea how tiny a tent is? The biggest, fanciest ones give you less room than this, and the ones you can actually pack-in are smaller than the your bed...

      Personally, my #1 concern is NOISE. I prefer motels to hotels because of the slightly reduced NOISE (i.e. insulated and weather-stripped ex

      • Do you go to restaurants 3X a day while you're at home?

        No.

        Do you take an oven, hob, microwave, fridge-freezer and store cupboard with you when you go on a trip?

        • Do you take an oven, hob, microwave, fridge-freezer and store cupboard with you when you go on a trip?

          Most motel/hotels have a microwave conveniently available for anyone to use.

          Many hotels have mini-refrigerators in-room for the mini-bars, with plenty of free space for your own (food & drink) items.

          Of course you don't need any of that, because a tiny immersion heater can boil all the water you want, which is all you need to cook ramen, eggs, instant rice, potatoes, oatmeal, spaghetti, macaroni, etc. O

  • Luxury room sizes - about the same as the size of a normal hotel room in central Paris or London.

    • Luxury room sizes - about the same as the size of a normal hotel room in central Paris or London.

      I was about to say that that is about the size of the hotel room I had in London, except I paid extra for one with a private toilet and shower, so that would have added another 15 square feet.

  • by markus ( 2264 ) on Tuesday March 22, 2016 @05:35PM (#51756687) Homepage

    I am all for more options. And I definitely can see how a small and affordable hotel room fills a particular niche. But I don't see how this would be direct competition with AirBNB.

    When I travel, I book AirBNB because I want an apartment rather than a hotel room. I don't necessarily need the amenities that traditional hotels offer (i.e. front-desk, swimming pool and on-site restaurant), but I do want a multi-room apartment; the ability to use the kitchen; convenient location downtown and close to public transportation; in-unit washer/dryer; included WiFi networking; affordable long-term rental; ...

    I can find some of these conveniences in hotels, but only after searching a lot and usually for quite a high premium. AirBNB (or its various copy-cats) really don't have much competition from traditional hotels.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's kind of the point, maybe? Hotels are finding their business being eaten, so they're trying to spread into a new niche that AirBnB doesn't cover.

      • Hotels look like they are expanding they only way they know how, drive down cost by driving down quality. That is missing the point of what attracts to AirBnB. I've used them a few times and a few things to note here are:
        a) They have always been cheaper than comparable hotels.
        b) They have never had or offered extra small rooms as a selling point.

    • I can find some of these conveniences in hotels, but only after searching a lot and usually for quite a high premium. AirBNB (or its various copy-cats) really don't have much competition from traditional hotels.

      Maybe. When I travel, I choose AirBNB because it's cheaper. If it's not cheaper, I'll go with the hotel. So from my perspective, they are in direct competition.

  • a LOT of cities have laws against tiny hotel rooms and apartments. Are they also factoring in the costs of legal fees fighting these stupid laws put on the books?

    • by slew ( 2918 )

      a LOT of cities have laws against tiny hotel rooms and apartments. Are they also factoring in the costs of legal fees fighting these stupid laws put on the books?

      FWIW, most of the laws on the books prevent tiny hotel rooms and apartments are "fire-code" laws. For example, in Washington state, a transient accommodation provider (e.g., a hotel) must provide 36" wide path on one side of a permanent bed and 18" wide path on one side for a temporary bed (e.g.,rollaway) for egress in case of a fire. No triple bunks and any double bunk beds need to have sufficient unobstructed vertical space so that an adult may sit up comfortably between the bottom and top bunk, or the t

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Any law that is effective seems stupid to people who haven't thought about why it might have been created in the first place.

  • by robi5 ( 1261542 )

    $100 in NYC is cheap these days? I spent a lot of time in NYC hotels about 15yrs ago, it got you a nice hotel room, obviously with a bathroom

  • And this is exactly why New York blows! I just booked a hotel in the middle of Downtown Seattle for $175/night and it is a full 800sqft multi-room suite. The "smaller" rooms in the 400-600sqft range are about the same price as those 65sqft rooms in New York!? NO THANKS, I'll keep to my smaller cities with bigger rooms!

    • by fizzup ( 788545 )

      I just booked a hotel in the middle of Downtown Seattle for $175/night and it is a full 800sqft multi-room suite.

      Oh, snap. At that price did they still make you stay in Seattle?

    • by skam240 ( 789197 )

      You judge cities based on the hotel rooms? You do realize there's a whole world of culture and excitement in most major cities you visit outside of the hotel room?

  • ... at a hostile price

  • This would make a good (affordable) Silicon Valley apartment. The 610 sq. ft. place I rented back in 2005 for $700/month now goes for $2100/month. If I were a recent college graduate starting out in Silicon Valley, a very small apartment similar to these hotel rooms would be a great way to start saving to get into something I could own.

    • Low-income areas in Washington, California (even around San Francisco), New York (western state especially, but some low-income areas in NYC), and really all over the United States can get as low as 60 cents per square foot; a $1/sqft model is reasonable as a reflection of the current low-income retail market everywhere.

      In my Citizen's Dividend plan, I suggest 244sqft apartments at a $300/month budget in 2013. That's estimating $1.33/sqft, which is pretty high: a 610sqft place would be $811, and I've re

  • This is what we call, the race to the bottom.

    • There are plenty of other options out there. No reason you must stay in such a hotel. There are many traditional hotels with larger rooms, there's AirBnB...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nothing wrong with what they're offering. As someone who stayed in a Chungking guesthouse in Hong Kong for $20 a night, 65 square feet would have been luxury!

    A bed and a door that locks is all a lot of people need.

  • Whenever we traveled in Europe, Airbnb rates were quite comparable to hotel rates. In some cases even higher. Only advantage? Finding a quaint little cottage in the middle of nowhere.

    I think its just like another hotel chain entering the area. If your area does not have 100% hotel utilization in peak season, its going to drive down prices a bit. Just like a new hotel opening will.

    Its not an "airbnb" thingy

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Wednesday March 23, 2016 @04:16AM (#51759341)
    I travel for business and I travel alone. I don't need a room bigger than you would find in a sleeper car in a train. But the shared bathroom? That sounds like the MBA technique where they deliberately make you miserable in some unnecessary way so that you will upgrade. Airlines have mastered this. They could make the seats with a tiny bit of extra leg room for just a few dollars more per flight. But they won't because they want you to upgrade for a zillion dollars more. The same with the executive lounges, etc. They make the normal waiting areas cold, noisy and uncomfortable so that you will want to go into the executive areas.

    But here is my ideal hotel experience. I book my room on a phone. Then when I get to the hotel I use my phone or CC to get into the tiny tiny room that it says is mine. No humans, no wasted extras such as desks, ironing boards, etc.

    If there are any features that I would like it would be stunning noise proofing.

    One thing that I have long thought would be possible would be that instead of hotels that were huge buildings full of hotel rooms, there would be these little rooms tucked into nooks and crannies throughout the city. Then the management company would send maids out to clean the rooms scattered around. A restaurant would have a few in an old storage room. An office building would have a few dozen on a floor that wasn't used anymore, etc. For me there is little advantage to having a room that is surrounded by 400 other rooms. Being in the office building that I am doing a contract in would be far better.
    • That's a really neat idea, and I think you could go a long way with that. I Really think there would be a good market for that sort of self-service, distributed hotel. (HaaS? Hotel in the Cloud?) In fact, most people would probably also be willing to forgo the daily maid service (not sure about you, but I don't launder my bath towels daily, and I'm quite capable of making my own bed).

      • I typically check into a hotel and just hang the Do Not Disturb sign out for the entire duration of the stay. If I run out of something, I will intercept a maid in the hallway.

        HaaS. That is great.

        As a business traveller, I would love a hotel that is near my clients. I also rarely have ever used anything in a hotel beyond the room. Concierge, nope, I will call my own cab, etc. I also have a long standing policy of never eating in a hotel restaurant; most of the time they are disappointing. A hotel pool i

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