Capsule Hotels Appearing in Western Airports. Would You Sleep Here?


A buddy of mine told me that ten years ago, following a flight to Canada, he spotted capsule hotels in the airport. That was the first I heard of these diminutive, coffin-like lodgings springing up outside of Japan.

It’s a growing trend however, as apparently now such a hotel has appeared in Mexico City’s local airport as well. It makes perfect sense, the only shocking thing is that it hasn’t spread faster.

How many times have you been laid over and had a miserable time, sleeping in those rigid airport lounge seats? Wouldn’t you pay $30 or so for a full night’s sleep, or as little as $10 for two hours, to avoid that fate?

Now, I’ve heard of airport sleep pods. These things don’t really offer any privacy however, or protect your luggage against theft:

They had the right idea, but the wrong form factor. Human nature is such that, for the safety of those looking to sleep in an airport, it really is necessary to fully enclose them in a chamber they can lock the hatch to.

Maybe you’re reading this, thinking “How can I make bank renting these to people?” Someone already had that idea, installing some capsule hotel units bought off Alibaba into his apartment, effectively subletting a single room studio unit:

Of course his landlord wouldn’t hear of it. Can’t have tenants running the same racket you are, that’s leaving money on the table. They said there were legitimate reasons why it shouldn’t be permitted, like tripled stress on utilities, but if the tenant is willing to pay the increased utility bill I think he ought to be left alone.

Maybe you’re like me, wondering “how can I get one of those as a bed?” I’d love to sleep in one of these things. It looks like a scifi hypersleep chamber. I also feel especially cozy when closed in like that.

Good news, then! It turns out they’re not even particularly expensive on Alibaba. Not compared to what I was expecting, anyhow. The catch is, despite them offering what appears to be single unit sales, the way I hear it because of how shipping from China works you typically have to order a minimum of 20 or so before they’ll sell to you.

That might not be a show stopper if you can find 19 other people interested in buying one. That’s what Massdrop is for, after all. Next you might wonder, why aren’t more people going into business, opening capsule hotels in airports?

The way I hear it, airport managmenet is stuck in the past. They don’t understand the use case for capsule hotels, often getting caught up in the word “hotel”, not understanding it’s more like a traveler’s rest stop.

The reason airports don’t already have traditional integrated hotels is because that interior space can generate more profits if it’s occupied by shops than by hotel rooms at the going market rate for a night’s lodging.

That equation changes if you can pack 10 capsules into the same space as a single traditional hotel room, however. Suddenly the financial side of it works out very favorably, it’s just a matter of convincing grey haired airport owners to move into the 21st century, embracing a model of traveler lodging that’s been a proven success in Japan since the 1970s.

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