After a peaceful night's sleep at the Hub by Premier Inn on Brick Lane, London, Ellina Webb looks into why micro hotels are having a big impact on urban travellers.
As much as I would love to be a hotel reviewer so that I can enjoy spending a free night in a selection of boutique bedrooms around the world, unfortunately this isn’t the case.
I did however recently spend a night in Premier Inn’s range of user-friendly, city-based hotels ironically called Hub (but unfortunately not in ode to our blogsite!) so now I think this makes me experienced enough to pass judgement…
Hub by Premier Inn falls into the category of a micro hotel which is basic enough to provide you with all the amenities you need but also trendy enough to spark a few ‘ooos’ and ‘ahhhs’.
While I’m not much of an expert urban traveller, I do feel the requirement of this kind of cost-efficient, compact city hotel is long overdue and over the past few years I have seen many of these trendy and contemporary style hotels pop up in cosmopolitan cities like Berlin, Amsterdam, New York and London.
Maybe it’s in line with the rise of globe-trotting, instragam influencers and celebrities, but this kind of capsule hotel has definitely become popular and after my stay at Hub, I totally understand why!
The history of the micro hotel
Small, micro and capsule hotels become a phenomenon in Japan in the 80s after the first capsule hotel was launched in 1979.
Still popular today, these hotels offer small pods that are essentially single bunk beds with a curtain, TV, radio and air conditioning system. Amenities like bathrooms are shared.
Contemporary micro hotels that have grown in popularity over the past 10 years however appeal to the modern generation of urban travellers who seek compact living the Scandinavian way, at a low cost.
The micro hotels with macro growth
CitizenM, The Pod Hotel and QBic are some of the most well-known and popular chains of micro hotels. CitizenM was founded in 2005, is a Netherlands based chain, arrived in London in 2012 and then popped up in New York and Paris a few years later.
The Pod Hotel first opened in 2007 in New York and since then the brand has taken off making critics wonder if going forward many other hotel chains will adopt the micro hotel approach… and it seems they have!
QBic hotels also launched in 2007 and are a Netherlands based chain with a hotel in London. They too follow the capsule room style but aim to hugely appeal to millennial travellers in both their funky design, functionalities and locations.
More recently major names that are already well established in the hotel sector are joining the micro movement like Marriot, Ibis and Premier Inn (owned by Whitbread). Hub by Premier Inn launched as a concept in 2012 and since then has received fantastic reviews from critics, influencers, reviewers and me.
Why I recommend a micro hotel
So what are the benefits of staying in a micro hotel like Hub?
Many are based in popular and expensive urban locations where being in the centre of the city is vital. Hub by Premier Inn is located in zones 1 and 2 of London including Brick Lane, Kings Cross and Covent Garden as well as in other popular cities like Edinburgh.
High quality finish
The most appealing aspect to these hotels for me is the high quality of the rooms. Wood, glass, colour and clever lighting features in most of the hotels providing a modern edge that is not only has a 5 star feeling but are also cool.
Automatic check ins
On arrival at Hub by Premier Inn I was amazed by the options to check in via iPad or traditionally at the desk. Not only did this eliminate queues, it was also appealing to those of all ages as they could check in independently or receive a traditional warm human welcome.
Incorporation of smart devices
Probably most appealing to millennial travellers and professionals was the inclusion of smart devices throughout the hotel. From iPad check ins to in room devices like a smart TVs, smart lighting and a hotel specific app allowing you to control the air conditioning and heating right from the palm of your hand.
Value for money
The basic designs that these hotel rooms have on offer eliminates excess that isn’t required by a short stay visitor, thus eliminating extra costs. It also puts all the items that a guest does need in a compact and functional layout which still feels luxurious.
Not only is the lighting in these hotels typically smartphone controllable and efficient LED, it is also designed to reflect the brand, the mood, the ambience and personality of the occupant. At CitzenM for example, lighting can be adjusted on the in room iPad depending on the mode you want i.e. party, relax, romance or business.
Many of these micro hotels also have huge focus on being sustainable and green. Hub by Premier Inn became the first hotel in the UK to achieve an “outstanding” BREEAM rating (a worldwide environmental rating system) at design stage. The Hub hotels have been designed with innovation and sustainability in mind which even stems to the heating and cooling systems being chosen due to their lower carbon emissions.
All of these micro style hotels stand out on their own in terms of identity and branding. At Hub by Premier Inn, the rooms are still in keeping with the quality that you would expect but they stand out on their own in terms of features; for example how they immerse themselves into their location by using the local map as a graphic feature in their rooms.
They have their own high-tech app
To go alongside the incorporation of smart technology in these hotels, the creation of bespoke apps has only improved the customer service offering – which typically includes free Wi-Fi. In the Hub by Premier Inn the app available can control room lighting, heating, do not disturb options and allow you to check what’s on the menu. An augmented reality feature also connects with the wall map giving you more information on the local area.
Staying in any kind of hotel is a luxury but in an urban environment I think both the hotel/hospitality industry and anyone who’s a potential guest can see that the micro movement is shaking things up.
It’s not only cost effective for the hotel chains, it is also energy efficient for the environment and bank balance friendly for people like you and me.
Ellina Webb is a Senior Marketing Executive at Mitsubishi Electric
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