We've all heard about how hotel rooms are getting smaller- particularly in the properties of some of the newer millennial-focused brands launched by the major chains.
Meanwhile, the average US hotel room is about 30.6 sq m.
There are, however, growing chains of 'microtels' where the rooms could be as small as 8-12 sq m – barely enough space in which to put a bed – and, to top it off, many don't even have windows to the outside of the building (something that is allowed in the UK, but not in Continental Europe).
So what is the rationale behind such seemingly unattractive accommodations?
In fact, it's all about location.
Such properties can offer guests a prime centre city location at an affordable price.
The microtel sector includes established players like Yotel, CitizenM and easyHotels, but also some newer and less well-known concepts, like: Point A, Qbic Hotels, Z Hotels, NoCo, Bloc Hotels and Hub by Premier Inn.
The design of Yotel's rooms, which measure slightly less than 9 sq m, was inspired by luxury aircraft cabins.
Thus, they can fit into extremely space-constrained environments like airports where the chain is already present in Gatwick, Heathrow, Schiphol and Charles de Gaulle.
In addition to its three city hotels – located in New York, Boston and Singapore - the group has 15 properties in the pipeline in destinations, such as: San Francisco, London Clerkenwell, Dubai, Edinburgh, Miami and Amsterdam.
Rooms in Amsterdam-based Citizen M properties are slightly larger at 15.8 sq m. The chain now has 19 operating hotels in Europe, North America and Asia.
Meanwhile, easyHotel rooms are smaller at 10-12 sq m. After some fits and starts over the past decade, the chain has now grown its portfolio to 26 operating hotels with 2'348 rooms, with 8 more in the pipeline.
Z Hotels was launched in Soho
Z Hotels properties feature rooms as small as 9 sq m.
Instead of targeting cheaper gentrifying areas of London like Shoreditch, the chain, started out in one of the city's most expensive central locations when it opened its first hotel, an 85-key property in Soho, in November 2011.
The next property to come was in the vicinity of Victoria Station. Besides making the rooms tiny, the chain's first two hotels lowered unit costs through configuring rooms with no windows - about 15% in the Soho property, but 60% in the one near Victoria.
Now, Z Hotels has properties in other locations, including Piccadilly, Shoreditch, the City, Gloucester Place, as well as outside London in Liverpool and Glasgow.
In 2018, hotels are scheduled to open in Oxford Street and Covent Garden, as well as in Bath.
The chain's tagline might imply that you wouldn't want to stay too long in such cramped quarters, stating that "Z Hotels have everything you need for a couple of nights [but maybe not more] in one of your favourite cities; concentrated style, an 'out-of-town price'…."
Point A rebrands Tune properties
Point A was actually launched as a 'rebranding' brand.
Queensway, an investor in hotels, coffee shops and restaurants, launched the concept at the beginning of 2017 in order to rebrand five of its London hotels which had been trading under a franchise agreement with the budget brand, Tune Hotels, owned by Tony" Fernandes, the founder of Air Asia, the region's leading LCC.
These properties are located in Canary Wharf, Liverpool St, Westminster, Kings Cross and Paddington and were subsequently joined by two new-build hotels of 181 and 122 bedrooms, respectively, in Shoreditch (London) and Glasgow, which created a combined portfolio of 1'100 rooms.
Point A Hotels offer Hypnos mattresses and power showers, alongside the brand's promise: “Everything you need, to set you up, for what you’ve come to do”.
For a mid-January booking, a room with no window at the chain's Westminster property cost £ 93.50 and the room is cleaned only after every third night (presumably when occupied by the same guest)!
NoCo also targets millennials
In mid-2016, Ennismore, the owner of Gleneagles, the premier Scottish golf resort, as well as the lifestyle hotel concept, Hoxton, launched the ‘stylish’ budget hotel brand NoCo.
Booking and check-in for the compact bedrooms will be via an app and bars and restaurants will be outsourced to local operators with the aim of attracting residents of the destination.
Ennismore is targeting around 25 hotels, each of which should have between 150 and 200 rooms, with rates starting at under £100.
Initially, major UK cities will be targeted and a first property is scheduled to open next year.
The properties, which are to be structured as leaseholds, are clearly targeting the millennial and travellers who want more than a generic hotel experience at a fair price by embracing “technology, great value and stylish design”.