When I stayed in my first “capsule hotel” in Japan many moons ago, it seemed a uniquely Japanese experience which I didn’t expect elsewhere.
I’ve been proven wrong by Mr Gerard Greene, the CEO of YOTEL, who has successfully made it happen in London.
Mr Greene has added significant value to the “capsule hotel” concept, far-removed from the idea of “no-frills” hotels espoused by competitors such as Easyhotel and budget chains.
YOTEL is designed to deliver what he calls “affordable luxury” at two major London airports, Heathrow and Gatwick. The key sacrifice is space. Click through for a video tour of YOTEL and recent TripAdvisor reviews.
When I initially met Mr Greene before the first YOTEL’s launch, he was keen to stress that the roots of the YOTEL concept came from premium air travel.
YOTEL even hired an aircraft design firm to develop the so-called “cabins”, which come in “Premium” and “Economy” versions.
There’s also a “Twin” cabin with two bunk-style single beds and an “Accessible” version for wheelchair users.
Rooms make innovative use of space throughout, with intelligent storage space and a relatively generous bathroom with power shower.
A “techno wall” allows the 21st century traveller to get fully wired up and enjoy the in-room entertainment system.
One thing I personally value is that YOTELs offer free WiFi. This also makes them appealing to cost-conscious business travellers.
The small dimensions of a typical YOTEL room allow for attractive rates.
Mr Greene insisted that this does not come at the expense of service. He was proud to stress that YOTEL’s well-trained staff or “cabin crew” are hired for friendliness and provide 24-hour service.
There’s more on YOTEL’s recruitment policy here. The quality of staff seems to be confirmed by guest reviews.
You can also rent YOTEL rooms by the hour (minimum: 4 hours), making them ideal for stopovers when you need a few hours sleep and a shower.
YOTELs also work well for early morning flights when you need to be at the airport before public transport is fully operational. I know from my own stressful early-morning flight experiences what a godsend this can be.
According to recent guest reviews, YOTEL’s rooms are functional, clean and considered to offer sound value for money. Do check out the TripAdvisor YOTEL guest reviews and official video.
The showers receive particularly good reviews.
There is however a little bit of background noise, as you’d expect from a hotel in which people are coming and going at all hours.
There are also good reviews of YOTELs’ convenient location with access to all the airport’s services a few steps away.
However, if you’re catching a flight from Heathrow, please allow enough time to get from the YOTEL in Terminal 4 to your departure terminal.
Given Mr Greene’s ambitious plans and commitment (he sold his own house to help finance YOTEL!), it’s clear that YOTELs are here to stay.
Having witnessed the blood, sweat and tears that went behind YOTEL before its launch, I’m happy to see it being successfully executed.
That’s not to say it’s perfect for everyone, since you have to remember that even the premium rooms are small by conventional hotel standards.
Demanding business travellers spoilt by generous expense accounts may find that a YOTEL cabin cramps their style. It is not recommended for anyone who is even mildly claustrophobic.
But for value-conscious small business owners and tourists, YOTELS could be just the ticket.
Booking a YOTEL can pay for itself when you factor in the cost of an early-morning taxi, not to mention the benefits of a few hours of extra sleep.
If you need a short stay at Gatwick or Heathrow, we recommend considering a YOTEL. Do check out the Airport Hotel Guru’s review.
Do also read our overview of other great “luxury budget” hotels in London.
Photo credits: YOTEL.