Nov 23, 2012

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Have you seen the SleepBox on your travels?


Have you ever found yourself in an airport or railway station trying to get some rest while simultaneously guarding your belongings? Travelling can be tiring and often you find yourself stuck with time on your hands and not much to do.  You can’t justify booking a hotel room for such a short period and other than drinking coffee and looking at the duty free for the third time, there isn’t much you can do. Surely there must be a solution.

If you’ve been to Russia’s Sheremetyevo International Airport recently you may have seen the SleepBox. It has only been around for 12 months but it has already received a lot of attention across the western hemisphere.

SleepBox was developed by a team of Russian architects at the Arch Group to address the problem of a lack of low cost, short stay sleeping areas in public places. It is worth mentioning that the box isn’t unique in its concept of low space accommodation. However the thing that makes it really interesting is its design.

“It looks like a futuristic, oversized vending machine and the fact that it can be placed anywhere is very unique.


In terms of features, they include Wi-Fi internet access, air conditioning and sound proofing. All the usual mod cons you would expect like plug sockets, and an LCD TV are provided. The space can accommodate from one to three people making it suitable for the individual traveller or small families at a push.  The quiet, comfortable environment offers a private and secure place to rest. The 2 x 0.6 meter bed automatically changes the sheets itself after each use.  However if you want the full comfort of a duvet you have to pay extra.

The capsule hotel concept

Sleepbox InteriorDespite its modern design the SleepingBox idea has been around for a while in other parts of the world in the form of capsule hotels.

The first capsule hotel was developed and built in Osaka, Japan in 1979. The concept was originally born out the fact that businessmen, naturally short on time, needed a place to relax and rest for a few hours while travelling. As well as offering extremely compact sleeping facilities you can also take advantage of the onsite spa treatments. These include a sauna, traditional massages and body treatments for both men and women.

Today the hotel offers more of a hostel style experience and is used by backpackers and tourist as well businessmen.  Although more popular in Japan the trend seems to be spreading to Europe and the rest of the world. The UK now has its own capsule or “pod” style hotels you can visit.


Nitenite RoomNitenite in the centre of Birmingham offers slightly bigger rooms with a luxury feel. The concept is to make the rooms small enough to be inexpensive but not too small to lose the sense of luxury.  Unlike the Japanese capsules which can feel claustrophobic and a little impersonal at times the concept has been altered to suit a more western customer.  It would be easy to forget you are in a pod hotel and rooms feel much more like that of a small yacht cabin than a capsule.


Yotel RoomIf you’re in London Heathrow or Gatwick airport you could check out Yotel opened by the founder of -popular restaurant chain- Yo! Sushi.  The prices are very reasonable and they offer a little more comfort than the Sleepbox.  They include a built in bathroom and you can also order food and hot drinks from the in house menu. Bookable by the hour they are convenient for catching some rest in-between flights.

New York

Yotel rooms are also available in Schophol airport, Amsterdam and Central New York. The New York hotel offers more of a holiday experience. The rooms are well designed and offer a surprising amount of space for a pod hotel. The style is modern and fresh as you’d expect. The rooms also have a basic kitchen.

The most impressive and coolest feature of this hotel has to be the robotic luggage concierge service though. It was created by aircraft designers and it is the only one of its kind.

This certainly has to be seen to be understood. Take a look at the video below to see it in action.

All in all pod hotels seem to be on the rise. The lack of space means the design is often especially clever and creative. One thing to bear in mind is that pod accommodation might not be suitable for young children and families due to its limited space however they do however offer an exciting and practical solution to sleeping on the go for travellers and businessmen.
Would you consider staying in any of these unconventional accommodation options? What is the strangest hotel you’ve ever slept in?


Main image source:

Second image source:

Third image © CC 2.0 Benjamin Ellis

Fourth image © CC 2.0 late night movie

  1. WOW! – Didn’t know there were so many different types of sleep boxes! – Not seen them on my holiday / business travels. I knew the Japs and French had such things in motorway hotels. I guess for long haul or delays they could be useful… or maybe just send me in a box by parcel post. Very original, thanks!

  2. This is a very interesting article and I only found about these Sleepboxes the other day through a pin on Pinterest. I didn’t realise that they were in London Gatwick. I passed through Gatwick last month but didn’t see the Yotel. I am definitely going to check this on my next visit.

  3. These sleep boxes will revolutionize long haul travel!
    What a fabulous idea, one which will be well utilized by travellers of all ages. The latest craze in travel, I am sure we will see many more variations popping up around the world in the not too distant future! I am determined to give them ago next month when I am in London.

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