YOTEL

YO! Sushi at Copenhagen Airport

yo sushi copenhagen

What’s better than really fresh and really tasty sushi at the airport?

Sushi that comes to you on a conveyor belt.

YO! Sushi, the ‘running’ sushi restaurant that started in London and now has 74 restaurants worldwide, just opened a branch at Copenhagen Airport. There, the sushi moves along a 230-foot-long conveyor belt at just over 3 inches per minute – giving diners time to peruse the offerings, make a decision and pick up a dish – or wait a few seconds for something tastier-looking to come along.

Sound like fun? This entertaining dining option is also available at Edinburgh Airport and and Heathrow Airport T2 and T3.

yo sushi

The people who invented Yo! Sushi didn’t stop with restaurants. They’re also the folks behind the Yotel – the hotels located at Heathrow, Gatwick and Amerstardam airports that offer cabin-like rooms where you can relax and refresh before, after or between flights. The concept has been so popular that there’s now a Yotel in New York City and plans to open additional Yotels at Singapore Changi and Paris Charles DeGaulle Airport and addiitional off-airport Yotels on Orchard Street in Singapore, in Brooklyn, NY, San Francisco, and Miami within the next two or three years.

Big plans for Yotel hotel chain of tiny rooms

If you’ve endured long layovers at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport or at London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airports, Yotel may already be part of your travel vocabulary.

Yotel Room mockup, June 2010Designed by Rockwell group, NY

New York City Yotel room – Courtesy Yotel

Since 2007, the small chain has been well-known for its short-stay, in-terminal hotels offering hip, ultra space-saving rooms inspired by the design of first-class airplane cabins. Because the average stay is about seven hours, these locations have a very healthy 200 percent occupancy rate.

The brand’s first off-airport hotel was the 669-room Yotel New York, which opened near Times Square in 2011 and quickly became popular with both leisure and business travelers seeking affordable, amenity-rich lodging in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

“It’s a mix of tourists looking for a bargain and business people on a budget,” said Chris Heywood of NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism organization. “You feel like you’re in a cool place, but the amenities make it easy to get business done.”

Now a deal has been announced for construction of a 600-room Yotel on Singapore’s bustling main shopping street, Orchard Road, which is home to numerous upscale malls and many four- and five-star luxury hotels.

“Yotel is another fantastic partner, bringing its unique ‘affordable luxury’ and offering travelers even more flexibility in their accommodations selection in the heart of our central district,” said Serene Tan, regional director for Singapore Tourism Board Americas.

Singapore’s Yotel opening is set for 2018.

“We want to use the Singapore deal as a springboard for expansion into Asia and are targeting a number of cities and airports there,” said Yotel CEO Gerard Greene. Meantime, he said, additional Yotel properties are being planned for other major cities and their airports in the United States and Europe. Details about some of these locations will be available in a few weeks, but Greene is confident “there will be sites that will open before Singapore.”

Rooms (“cabins” in Yotel-speak) at the Singapore and other in-city Yotels will have the same ergonomically attentive, compact design as those in New York. There, basic “premium” cabins are about 170 square feet (small even by New York City standards, but larger than the 100 square-foot airport cabins) and include a motorized bed that converts to a couch, a large flat-screen TV and a small desk with multiple power ports. A curtain separates the work/sleep space from the sink, shower and toilet nook, and there are complimentary hot beverages in a 24-hour kitchen on each floor. Room rates (which in New York begin around $200,) include robust property-wide Wi-Fi and a breakfast of muffins and tea and coffee.

Yotel robot

Yobot robot stores luggage at New York City Yotel – photo Harriet Baskas

There’s no word yet on whether any of the new Yotels will have a robotic arm, or Yobot, like the one that can be seen tirelessly storing and retrieving luggage in the lobby of the Yotel New York, but I sure hope so.

(My story about the expansion of the Yotel hotel chain first appeared on the CNBC Road Warrior blog)

From the Inn Bin: New York’s YOTEL

(Inn Bin posts share things I’ve enjoyed at some places I’ve had the good fortune to stay.)

If you’ve spent some time at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, or at Heathrow or Gatwick Airport in London then perhaps you’ve already seen or spent some time at a Yotel.

These are affordable, short-stay hotels (minimum booking is four hours) located inside the airport terminals with small cabin-like rooms that are perfect for napping, working, showering and just resting between flights. While short on space, the rooms have the essentials: a comfortable bed, free Wi-Fi, a good shower, a small desk, complimentary hot drinks and a flat-screen TV.

I stayed for a few hours at the Heathrow Yotel a few years back after an overnight flight from Seattle that arrived in London at 6 a.m. and then headed into town for a full day of business meetings and touring feeling very civilized and unrumpled.

yotel heathrow

Single cabin at the Heathrow Yotel.

Spending a few hours in a tiny hotel room at an airport is one thing, but I wondered if staying in a room at the off-airport Yotel in New York City would feel claustrophobic.

It was fine.

Yotel Room mockup, June 2010 Designed by Rockwell group, NY

The Yotel in New York City is not far from Times Square, Madison Square Garden and the Port Authority bus terminal. After checking in at the ground level “Mission Control,” where a “Yobot” stays busy storing luggage in cubicles, guests go to the fourth floor, where there are bars, a restaurant (where the complimentary morning muffins are served), a large outdoor terrace and some public seating areas. The rooms are on the floors above.

Yotel patio

Outdoor terrace at Yotel in New York City. Photo by Harriet Baskas

The “cabins” at the New York City Yotel are 30% larger than those at the airport properties – but at 170 square feet a basic “premium” cabin was still quite small. Still, it has all the essentials: a bed that folds up into a futon-like couch during the day and – at the press of a button – extends flat for sleeping, a tiny desk with a chair, a large flat screen TV, a shelf and a bar to hang clothing from, free Wi-Fi and a floor-to-ceiling window.

The bathroom area of the room has a curtain, but no door, although there’s a partially opaque glass door you can pull closed if you’re sharing the room and want a bit of privacy in the toilet or the shower.

(Rates usually start at $199; which seems reasonable compared with what you’ll pay for other hotel in New York City).

There’s a hip vibe at the hotel, but not so hip that you’ll feel you’ll need to be all pretty and dressed up to go grab that complimentary morning muffin.

Here’s another hip and fun new offering at the Yotel in New York City: this summer staff will be surprising some guests with complimentary “Only in New York” tours (value $65).

Tours to where? That’s a surprise: up to two dozen people will be taken on a two hour adventure somewhere in the city. Find more details about the Only in NY tours here.

Yotel robot

Rooms are small, so it’s nice that the Yotel’s Yobot will store luggage. Photo by Harriet Baskas

 

(My stay at the Yotel in New York City was at a reduced rate; opinions and impressions are very much my own.)

Airport dream amenities

What would make the time you spend stuck at the airport more bearable?

the_traveler

Spas and saunas? Sushi bars? Rollers skating? Roller coasters?

The folks at Skyscanner did a survey of 10,000 people and came up with this top ten list:

Cinema – 49%
Sleep pod – 36%
Library – 32%
Park – 31%
Vanity area – 30%
Kids play area – 21%
Pool – 20%
Gym – 15%
Man-made beach – 12%
Bikes – 11%

These are not pie in the sky amenities.

Singapore’s Changi Airport offers free movies and a multiplex theater at the Hong Kong Airport shows IMAX features throughout the day.

Abu Dhabi Airport offers travelers cocoon-like sleep pods and cabin-like Yotel rooms are available at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which also has a library and a lovely indoor/outdoor park.

And at the Zurich Airport, you can rent a bike and go for a ride.

What other amenities are on your dream list for the airport?

Stuck at Heathrow Airport? Check in and chill out.

A rare working week in London is bracketed by two very different, but equally impressive at/in Heathrow Airport hotel stays.

6 AM arrival: after a long, sleepless flight from the US west coast beside a fidgety, too-tall seatmate, I can’t face heading to town and trying to stay awake until hotel check-in time. Instead I visit the short-stay YOTEL in Terminal 4, where compact and very cozy, ship-cabin-inspired rooms offer just the essentials: bed, TV, Wi-Fi, and bathroom.  Four hours later I’m refreshed and ready for the Tube-trek into town.  Not for the claustrophobic, but a great option for folks with very early arrivals or departures.

yotel

6 AM departure: With such an early morning flight, its just makes sense to stay at – or in – the airport.  In the past I’ve snagged an acceptable rate at the Heathrow London Hilton Airport Hotel, attached to Terminal 4, but this time I’m snuggled in for a short night at the new, ultra-swank Sofitel London Heathrow, attached to the new Terminal 5.

Rooms offer pillow menus and many public areas have themes:  for example the lobby is “Antarctica,” with a cool ice-block-inspired fountain, and there’s a huge, peaceful indoor Zen Garden.

sofitel-spa

There are multiple restaurants, several bars and a fitness room, but it’s the spa that offers a hidden treat for folks stuck – or just worn out – at the airport.  For about the same price as four hours at the YOTEL, travelers can hang out in the Sofitel’s Hydro Suite, which has a shower, steam room, sauna, giant spa tub, and some very inviting-looking lounge chairs.  If you’re nice, they might even let you stretch out in the official relaxation room as well.