Tight on Space, Big on Style: Explore the World’s Most Compact Hotels

Editor's note: This post comes to us courtesy of Julia Dilworth - a lifestyle journalist based in Vancouver, Canada who is a regular contributor for HotelsCombined.com, the world's leading hotel price comparison website. A free and easy service that combines rates, availability and reviews from hundreds of the top travel websites, HotelsCombined boasts a database of over 400,000 hotels around the globe and is available in more than 40 languages.

“Good things come in small packages” and the same holds true for some of the world’s smallest hotels. Graduating from the simple cubby-style capsule hotels of Japan is a new breed of compact that doesn’t compromise on comfort or style. Innovative layouts make the most of modest spaces, pushing the boundaries in both modern hotel design and affordable luxury.

In short, it’s not the size that matters, but how you use the space. Without further ado, here’s a look at the world’s most stylishly small hotels:

#1: Nine Hours Kyoto Teramachi (Kyoto, Japan): A trip to outer space

If the thought of capsule lodging sounds more like punishment than vacation, perhaps you should skip capsuling altogether. However, if you want to give it the old college try, a more upscale version ”” such as Japan’s Nine Hours hotel ”” may be just the ticket.

Hotel 9h in Kyoto, Japan
Nine Hours Kyoto Teramachi (Kyoto, Japan)

For starters, sleeping quarters aren’t coffin-esque ”˜capsules,’ but rather ”˜sleeping pods’ in a hotel that’s clinically white and futuristic. Think advanced army barracks aboard a time-travelling spaceship. Moreover, sleep isn’t disturbed by an everyday alarm, but delicately encouraged by the Sleep Ambient Control System, which gradually brightens to wake guests in the morning while dimming at night. Another crucial difference putting Nine Hours above its capsule cohorts is the fact that patrons have enough room to sit up, a feature that greatly cuts down on the claustrophobic factor.

Both men and women can stay at Nine Hours and each sex gets their own floor.

The hotel also supplies visitors with Nine Hours gear to wear and cool travel-friendly amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and even a toothbrush for your trip into outer space/downtown Kyoto.

#2: Sleepbox Hotel (Moscow, Russia): Box is the new black

Another example of largely innovative capsule design is Moscow’s Sleepbox Hotel.

Sleepbox Hotel in Moscow, Russia (interior)
Sleepbox Hotel in Moscow, Russia

Reportedly the first of its kind in Russia, ”˜sleepboxes’ are relatively spacious and available for one or two people. Each noise-insulated room is designed as astutely as IKEA furniture to be compact and highly functional.

The one-person room has an LED flat screen, bedside table, cupboards, clothes hooks, windows (with blinds) ”” “all the facilities of a classic room in nano format,” explains the website.

The two-person sleeper is equally efficient and features a laptop desk that folds out of the wall. It also comes in an adorable bunk bed configuration complete with stepladder that feels a lot like summer camp. Here guests will also enjoy “luxury” sheets and towels, free Wi-Fi, a closet and use of the hotel’s iPads. To cap it all off, the Sleepbox hotel is a bargain, where guests in a double sleepbox can expect to pay just $79 USD a night.

#3: Wanderlust Hotel (Little India, Singapore): Tickled pink travel

Tucked away in Little India, an old settlement where Indian immigrants historically reared livestock, is the truly unique boutique hotel, Wanderlust.

Wanderlust Hotel, Little India, Singapore (interior of room)
Wanderlust Hotel, Little India, Singapore

Here, a few of Singapore’s cutting-edge design studios and architects got together to mastermind 29 rooms of Willy Wonka-esque wonder, including an entire floor of Japanese capsule-like accommodation styled in celebratory pantone colours. Each efficiently designed abode ”” from the bed, to the window, to the wall ”” highlights one single colour from the Pantone chart and comes with motif-appropriate neon signs of famous songs, such as Orange Crush and Purple Rain. No room is identical, and the same goes for the hotel’s four floors, each created with a different “in-your-face” theme: Industrial Glam, Eccentricity, Is It Just Black and White? and Creature Comforts.

Complementary beverages, Kiehl’s toiletries and a Nespresso machine are just a few of the guest perks at the Wanderlust, which also boasts a Jacuzzi, restaurant and bar.

#4: Citizenm (Amsterdam, Holland): Big bed, big window, big savings

Fun and futuristic, the Citizenm hotel in Holland’s capital has found creative ways to offer international travellers affordable luxury in compact quarters.

CitizenM Hotel in Amsterdam, Holland
CitizenM Hotel in Amsterdam, Holland

The bed is historically where capsule-inspired hotels are forced to cut some corners, but this Amsterdam boutique hotelier found a way to make its beds bigger. At two meters by two meters, an XL king size spans the entire width of each room, maximizing on space without compromising the layout. Furthermore, wall-to-wall windows ensure there is no scrimping on the view.

To cap off Citizenm’s perks, ambient lighting, an LCD TV, window blinds, temperature settings and alarm themes are all electronically controlled by guests via the MoodPad touch screen. Set your room colours, take a rain shower, use the in-suite microwave and enjoy free movies on demand at your leisure (maybe just not all at once).

#5: Central Hotel & Café (Værnedamsvej, Copenhagen, Denmark): Small hotel with a big heart

What it lacks in size, the Central Hotel in Denmark certainly makes up for in character. This restored 12-meter apartment was home to shoe cobblers following its construction in 1905. After a variety of businesses moved in and out, the space was transformed into the purported World’s Smallest Hotel, which made its debut in June of this year.

Central Hotel & Cafe in Copenhagen, Denmark
Central Hotel & Cafe in Copenhagen, Denmark

Central Hotel’s owners want guests to feel as if they’ve gone back in time and ensure their patrons arrive to find fresh flowers, fruit and wine awaiting them within their petite pad. Somehow a bathroom, work desk and mini bar all fit around the Royal Eden bed, and great attention to detail has been made to the room’s historic décor and details. Hiding in there somewhere is also a large flat screen TV.

This little lodge for two sits atop a café in the heart of the city on Værnedamsvej, a busy shopping and restaurant-lined street locals refer to as Copenhagen’s Paris.

Visitors are encouraged to try the homemade Rødgrød from downstairs’ Granola café, an authentic Denmark dish of sweet fruit that’s a big hit with tourists.

#6: Dasparkhotel (Ottensheim, Austria): Live your pipe dream

It’s hard to imagine sleeping in a refurbished drainpipe, but the Dasparkhotel (or “park hotel”) makes this unusual concept a thrilling reality. The modestly-sized interior is surprisingly comfortable and the double bed, bedside lamp and blankets create a more than cozy atmosphere. There is also storage for luggage under the bed and power outlets for guests’ mobile devices.

Dasparkhotel in Ottensheim, Austria
Dasparkhotel (Ottensheim, Austria)

Even more astonishing than the unconventional sleeping arrangements is that such accommodation is available completely by donation ”” patrons only pay what they can afford. This hotelier anomaly is possible because the fully-contained drainpipe rooms sit in a city park replete with campsite-like amenities, including bathroom and shower facilities, a fountain with clean drinking water, as well as a buffet.

Curious travellers should note that the showers are classified as ”˜medium’ cold, but with such unique sleeping quarters at a pay-what-you-can price, a brisk morning scrub is hardly worth complaining about.

#7: Yotel (New York, USA): Big Apple, Small Room

The first Yotel was built in London, a concept that came from co-creator Simon Woodroffe, a business tycoon from the UK TV series, The Dragon’s Den. Woodroffe wanted to find a solution to expensive, boring hotels without compromising on comfort and his answer was innovative radical design.

Entrance of Yotel Hotel in New York City
Entrance of Yotel Hotel in New York City

At the NYC Yotel, the latest in this hotelier series, premium cabins have motorized moving beds (to make more space), en suite bathrooms with monsoon showers, a ”˜technowall’ outfitted with a large flat screen and plug-ins for your assorted mobile paraphernalia, a work station, and free Wi-Fi ”” all in under 200 sq. ft.

Keeping with the Japanese style, the hotel’s Dohyo restaurant has hydraulic tables that lower for Japanese-style seating and evening entertainment.

At the Yotel, patrons will also find a club lounge and the impressive Terrace, which Yotel claims is the Big Apple’s largest outdoor hotel space – complete with a fire, cabanas and two bars.

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