The world’s tiniest hotel rooms
Compact, perfectly formed and more wallet-friendly than their supersized siblings, here are six suites that are as chic as they’re petite
Welcome to the Incredible Shrinking Hotel Room: a modern-day phenomenon that has seen city break real estate slim down the hotel bedroom to its essential parts. And while some may be less pint-sized-sleek, more broom-cupboard-bleak, others make you think: why pay for anything bigger? A stylishly small hotel room is perfect for solo travellers who’d take value over volume, and can even – for those hotels that squeeze in a double bed (as with most of our selection below) – be great for couples who agree on frugality over square footage. Any excuse to get cosy, right?
London’s smallest hotel room comes in at 5sqm – half the size of an average UK parking space. It’s at the Corbigoe Hotel, five minutes away from Pimlico Station, and crams in an ensuite with shower, tea- and coffee-making facilities (stationed at the end of the bed), a television and hairdryer. The room is no wider than the single bed itself. This, we don’t mind. This we can call ‘snug’ and almost get away with it. But where, we cry, is the style? We’ll put up with narrow spaces for some exceptional interior design, but forgo the latter and suddenly we’re Harry Potter under the stairs, begging to be whisked off to Hogwarts.
Luckily, meticulous micro-rooms are taking off, and only gaining speed as the cost-of-living crisis develops and forces more and more travellers to scroll for the cheapest room category. All over the industry, established brands are creating ‘mini-mes’, such as Premier Inn’s Zip – a no-frills, budget brand built around pod-style rooms with singles starting from 8.5sqm and prices from £21 a night (the first is open in Cardiff). The Zip rooms were designed by PriestmanGoode – certified masterminds of all things mini – including world-famous train carriages, first-class cabins and leading micro-hotel concepts.
Ovolo Hotels, meanwhile, has announced expansion and a new room category entirely: the Go Go Snug rooms, offering micro-suites for solo travellers, who are a growing market (Google trend data shows searches for ‘solo travel’ are up by 761 per cent on pre-pandemic levels). Micro-rooms remain particularly popular in dense, space-strapped cities, such as Tokyo, which pioneered high-tech, minimalist capsule hotels with many ‘rooms’ measuring just three square metres.
We’ve upped the parameters just a tad: the following hotel rooms are all less than 15sqm each, and run from stylish shoeboxes in the US to pseudo-spaceships in Istanbul. Keep reading and you might just find your perfect pocket-sized stay…
Skiing is already expensive, so accommodation is an opportunity to cut back on some costs. Mont Blanc valley wouldn’t usually be the place to look, occupied as it by luxury chalets starting anywhere from upwards of £1,000 a night. But hiding just a five-minute (free) shuttle bus away from Chamonix’s ski-scene heart, RockyPop is less than a tenth of that price – and that’s in high season. It won’t be to everyone’s taste (a life-size R2-D2 model at reception may have a few souls reaching out for the Four Seasons), but those who embrace its fun, arcade-game-schtick will find a cleverly designed, functional and deeply sociable design language that more than lends itself to a good time on the slopes. Decked out with in-built wall storage, tartan-red carpets and roomy showers, its single and double rooms come in at a cruise-shippy 15sqm a piece.
Pod 39 Midtown, New York
New York’s original ‘podfather’, Pod 39 was the first of its kind to take New York (the Pod Hotels brand now has four properties around the city). In High Life’s humble, extremely expert opinion, it’s also remained the best. A more recent opening in Times Square is New York at its most hectic, while the Brooklyn outpost is less ideal for first-timers or short-stayers, who should base themselves in Manhattan. Pod 39, meanwhile, is a perfect Midtown spot. And the design has held up, too: red and blue bed blankets with slatted wooden walls are a slice of nautical New England in the big city. If you’re a solo traveller, go for the 11sqm bunk pod (you can use the extra bed for storage) and pay unheard of nightly room rates.
Hôtel des Grands Boulevards, Paris
Oh, Paris – city of grand gestures and tiny hotels. This old city has held on to many of its original features; you could take pictures of Paris today and have it still look like the B-roll of some undiscovered film camera from the 1960s. And since hotels are a relatively modern invention, more often than not they’re simply old European houses converted for purpose. But we wouldn’t have Paris, with its bistros spilling out on to pavements and skinny, cobbled avenues, any other way. Small, stylish hotel rooms are easier to find here than just about anywhere else, but our favourite is Grands Boulevards’ preppy balcony room in the lively 2nd Arrondissement. At 14sqm, it has the one of the best beds in the game, featuring designer Dorothée Meilichzon’s dreamy signature headboards and comfy mattresses from artisanal bed-makers in Brittany.
Yotel Istanbul Airport (Landside)
Did you know Istanbul has a new(ish) airport? And an airport that has, since its ‘first phase opening’ in October 2018, already broken multiple world records? Yes, Istanbul New Airport is quickly becoming one of the world’s biggest (scrap that – it’s the biggest) and busiest aviation hubs, expecting a 200 million passenger capacity per year by 2028. It was a perfect match for airport hotel brand turned mega micro-room player, Yotel, which first began life at Gatwick Airport back in 2007. Yotel now has properties both airside and landside at this landmark airport, with its trademark spaceship futurism still very much intact across all its 171 modern ‘cabins’. Some of the 13sqm premium queens are windowless (we think it adds to the spacey charm – but one to watch out for if you want natural light) and all of them boast Yotel’s fully adjustable SmartBed™, mood lighting, lightning-fast Wi-Fi and desk.
The Hoxton, Portland
We first met the 12sqm ‘Shoebox’ back in 2006. It was the smallest room category at the very first Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch, London – and a concept so popular that it’s still alive and kicking 15 hotels later. Much like the rest of the rooms, it showed off herringbone floors, large porthole mirrors and oaky furnishings; the bed hugged the wall on three sides. At The Hoxton’s second property in nearby Holborn, ‘Snug’ rooms – at a small but perfectly formed 14sqm – joined the Shoebox; the self-effacing names of both cleverly protecting the brand from size-related complaints (well, you knew what you were getting, didn’t you?). It’s here that a new, highest room category got its adorable name: ‘Biggy’. But, of all Hoxton’s hotels around the world, Portland, Oregon (opening image), clinches the most nanoscopic: its 10sqm Shoebox will give you a single-twin bed and handsome interiors from just $103.
Batty Langley’s, London
Neither a Soho House-ified five-star or a butler-serviced grande dame, Batty Langley’s instead occupies the eccentric townhouse genre – a joyous rejection of cookie-cutter design that’s tucked behind 18th-century bricks in the backstreets of Spitalfields, near Liverpool Street Station. And while we’d love to say its 29 rooms are all, well, a bit batty, the period drama maximalism and Georgian colour wheel of maroon reds, peacock blues and sage greens would please even the most devout East London hipster. More likely to pick your room based on price point than paint colour? Then it’ll be the hotel’s 10sqm Box Room for you – except, quite unlike a punishment for parsimony, this converted storage cupboard with its mahogany alcoves and sumptuous throws is a House & Garden magazine cover come to life. The website says the single bed can sleep two but, if you’re not riding solo, maybe save the relationship and go for a club double (13sqm), instead.
Are these the most beautiful buildings in the world?
Via The ArchDaily Guide To Good Architecture – High Life brings you a sneak peek into some of the world’s most stunning structures
Mountaineer Nimsdai Purja picks his favourite peaks
The ex-Special Forces and Gurkha soldier-turned-mountaineer talks summit skylines
How to eat like an Oscar-winner this March without leaving London
London chef Elliott Grover takes us through his menu for this year's Oscars