It’s super tough to pick a vacation destination at times, isn’t it? The process is different for everybody. Some of us have a favourite resort in a particular place all picked out, and have booked again for next year almost as soon as their plane’s touched down back home. I could never be one of those people. I’m very indecisive.
Like a lot of you, I’m sure, I’m one of those who just has so much I want to see. The travel bucket list is very, very real, friends. Some destinations are brand new to me. Others are familiar cities where I haven’t quite seen everything I’ve wanted to yet.
Even if you have got as far as picking a location, the next battle is choosing the accommodation. This can be even tougher. There’s so much to consider. Do you want a hotel that caters well to children, or do you want one that’s strictly adults-only? Do you want to splash out on a big, luxurious suite, or a small modest room?
Needless to say, we’re strictly looking at the latter type, today. This is not the place to admire some sumptuous A-lister penthouse suites. We’re talking Japan’s teensy Capsule Inn, for one thing. For another, how about the stripped-out Volkswagen Beetle in the Jordanian desert, whose owner proudly claims it to be the world’s smallest hotel? Then there’s Russia’s Sleepbox Hotel. The name probably tells you all you need to know, there.
All of these tiny treats and many more await below.
20 Eh’häusl Hotel, Germany: What A Cute Story
Let’s kick this party off the right way, with the super-sweet story of the Eh’häusl Hotel. This almost-fatally-quaint little building is found in Amberg, Bavaria, and currently holds the Guinness World Record for smallest hotel on the planet.
It dates back to 1728, a time when couples were required to prove that they owned land before they were permitted to get married in the city. One canny couple, the story goes, erected walls and a roof in the small courtyard between two buildings, and so Eh’häusl (Marriage House) was created. It’s supposed to have gone from owner to owner over the years, allowing many couples to get married.
Since its 2008 renovation, it may only be 2.5 metres wide (yes, the whole building) and occupy around 53 metres of floor space, but it boasts a living room, bedroom, bathroom and breakfast room.
19 CityHub, Netherlands: Get Yourself Connected
For many travellers, a hotel is not a focal point at all. Far from it, in fact. It’s simply a place to sleep and shower, before setting off for a day’s exploration. Resorts are not for them at all. Getting out there and enjoying the authenticity of it all, that’s what it’s really about.
If that sounds like your way of thinking, Amsterdam’s CityHub may be for you. This is a unique new kind of accommodation, the brainchild of two university students from the city who love all the social aspects of travel. It’s very compact and modern, with communal showers and toilets and a very cosy and chic vibe.
18 Hotel Central & Café, Denmark: No, *I’M* The Smallest Hotel In The World
You know how people are. Where there’s a record or accolade to be had, there’ll be fighting over it. While Guinness World Records may have given the official nod to Germany’s Eh’häusl Hotel, Denmark is throwing its own hat into the ring. Copenhagen’s effort? The Hotel Central & Café.
For starters, this is no hotel for families. Not because there’s anything… adult happening, but because it has only a single room, and that has space for little more than a double bed. Nevertheless, it’s bright and has the amenities you might expect (TV, minibar, etc) and a small attached bathroom.
As the name suggests, the little hotel itself is situated just above a café, and it all makes for one of the smallest buildings in Copenhagen.
17 Capsule Inn Osaka, Japan: Exactly What It Says On the Tin
As CN Traveler reports, Japan was the country that brought the innovative capsule hotel concept to the world’s attention. You can see the appeal: they’re small, perfectly formed, convenient and cheap. As we’ll see as the list goes on, the idea has caught on all over the globe.
The Capsule Inn Osaka is special because it was the first of its kind, opening way back in 1979. Business is still booming, and only men are allowed to stay.
As teeny-weeny as the capsules themselves are, guests also have access to a TV, radio, bathrobe and the hotel’s spa and sauna.
16 Das Park Hotel, Germany: The Great Outdoors (Almost)
For some of us, a boring, uniform room in a boring, uniform chain hotel will simply not do. Some like their accommodation to be just as quirky and creative as the rest of their trip. Doing the popular, obligatory tourist things? Holy heckles, no.
If that’s the kind of traveller you are, and you’re off to Germany, the Das Park Hotel is probably for you. Located in Rodlpark, Ottensheim, they’re opening other locations in the country, such as Bernepark, Bottrop.
As far as unusual sleeping experiences go, how about staying in a renovated (and, hopefully, thoroughly scrubbed) drainage pipe? Don’t worry, comfortable beds, electrical outlets and the like are included.
15 Siesta Box, Brazil: I’m Not Sure I like The Sound Of That
Ah, yes. If you’re one of those who likes to stretch out in a big, comfortable bed, pad around a large bedroom and maybe enjoy a spacious balcony, alarm bells are probably going off in your head right now. Siesta Box? You mean… a box to sleep in?
Oh, yes indeedy-o. That’s almost exactly what we’re talking about here. The Siesta Box hotel is found in Brazil’s Recife airport, a quick, convenient and no-frills solution for travellers. As small as they are, each ‘box’ offers Wi-Fi and cable, and they’re also insulated to protect sleepers from the hustle and bustle outside.
14 Citizen M Hotel, Netherlands: Dial M For Measly-Sized
As I say, it’s not always about have a vast, spacious penthouse to stay in. The way I see it, if you’re traveling as a couple and staying a new city for a week or two, what do you need all that space for? Are you going to invite thirty strangers over to spend the night conga-ing around the room?
Well, that does sound fantastic, but still.
It’s about personal preference, anyway. As for me, I think the Citizen M Hotel looks just perfect. This little slice of natural beauty in the Netherlands has rooms that are mostly dominated by the bed alone, but look at those surroundings! Fans of quirkiness will appreciate that.
13 The Tiny House Hotel, United States: When The Name Says It All
There go those alarm bells again. There’s more to this one than you might think from the name, though. Were you picturing a puny little regular hotel building, like a child’s Lego model or a place you’d expect to find on the coast of Lilliput? Well, as you can see, the Tiny House Hotel is nothing like that.
This quaint establishment in Portland, Oregon has a range of ‘rooms,’ all designed as little houses on wheels. As Weetas Blog reports, “The charming tiny houses are all built by local builders and artistic designers. They range in size from 120 to 170 square feet. Each tiny house features creative artistic design elements and versatile furnishings. And best of all, lots of locally made art.”
12 Grand Hotel De Kromme Raake, The Netherlands: Grand, But Not ‘Grand’
When you hear the word ‘Grand,’ all sorts of images run through your head. Vast, impressive buildings, with chandeliers and the like. The Palace of Versailles? That’s definitely grand. A small hotel in the Netherlands that was once a grocery store? Maybe not so much.
Let’s not be judgmental, though. At the time of its conversion from said store in 1989, the Grand Hotel De Kromme Raake in Eernum was awarded the Guinness World Record for the smallest hotel. Unprepossessing, sure, but its art deco design, king-sized beds and dinky bathtubs are still a tempting proposition for the right traveller. Don’t be afraid to get a little cosy, though.
11 Yotel, England: Little Luxury
I suppose the thing about these capsule hotels is, it’s a little tough to glam them up. You know, give them that sense of grandeur that the fanciest, most sophisticated, Kardashian-frequented suites tend to have. They’re kind of Spartan and minimalist by nature.
Even so, that doesn’t mean you can’t go luxurious with them. The Yotel brand is one that tries to achieve just that, Escape Here reports. It’s established itself at some of the biggest airports across Europe, notably London Heathrow. They’re 11ft x 8ft cabins (as they call them), with mod-cons like monsoon showers and other individual facilities.
10 The Pod Hotel, United States: Like Peas In A Pod
Having said that, there are other capsule hotels (and just general teeny-room hotels) that try to strike that balance. Our next stop is New York City, and a hotel brand that shoots to do just that.
There are two Pod Hotels in NYC, a city famous for… well, business and generally being darn expensive. This is a tough combination for travellers, which is where Pod Hotels come in. Their motto is, “stay in the heart of it all, without spending it all,” hence the super-compact rooms.
Some are suitable only for one person, while others can sleep up to four. They’re everything the average traveller would want from a hotel room, just condensed down.
9 Sleepbox Hotel, Russia: Wait, This Sounds Familiar
That’s right, friends. If you haven’t caught on already, these bite-sized hotels like to advertise the fact that they’re super-dinky right there in their names. Already, we’ve seen Siesta Box and The Tiny House Hotel, neither of which give you any false impressions of being darn huge.
Another that fits right in with this is the Sleepbox Hotel in Moscow. It’s the first capsule hotel in the country, CN Traveler reports, but it was carefully designed by a team of Russian architects to boast both form and function. Yet again, we’re not skimping on the usual amenities here. That’s some rather funky lighting, too.
8 Hotel Punta Grande, Spain: Not Quite As Glamorous As It Sounds
Here we are with that word ‘Grand(e) again. As I say, it doesn’t have to mean butlers, chandeliers and guestrooms the size of a small nation in South Africa. The Hotel Punta Grande is grand in its own bite-sized way.
It’s situated in El Hierro, Spain, on a small rocky outcrop that was formed by eruptions from volcanoes in the Canaries. As you might expect, it’s not the busiest hotel around, with a total of four bedrooms, but it makes up for that in whimsy. Each of the four small rooms is decorated with items from shipwrecks in the area. Which is, you know, certainly unique.
7 Green Plaza Shinjuku, Japan: The Most Famous Capsules You’ll Find Anywhere
As we saw earlier, the capsule hotel is an idea that has its roots in Japan. Naturally, the country has a great many of them to choose from, but one of the best-known and most popular would have to be the Green Plaza Shinjuku.
It’s the epitome of the whole concept, really. The small but perfectly formed capsules give a cheap, quick and easy place for travellers and commuters to sleep, while also offering luxuries like massages. According to Escape Here, you’re looking at low prices of around $20 to $40 for a night, which isn’t bad whichever way you slice it.
6 Capsule By Container, Malaysia: Howdy, Neighbour!
When you’re traveling, you’ll often be understandably wary of strangers. Depending on where you’re going, they can be super-friendly and welcoming, or they can need a very, very wide berth. There are pickpockets, conning street vendors and the like everywhere, if you’re going somewhere tourist-heavy.
In a capsule hotel, of course, you’re often packed right in with your neighbours. Our next stop is Malaysia, where the Capsule by Container hotel is… well, as you can see, privacy isn’t really on the menu here. That is one darn tight squeeze, and I’m not sure that I’m quite on board with that.
5 Hôtel des Académies et des Arts, France: A Real Slice Of French Fancy
The city of Paris known around the world as a haven of art and culture. Along with this, naturally, comes a huge amount of boutique hotels, each trying to offer something a little different from all the rest.
Of these little places, the Hôtel des Académies et des Arts is one that ticks all the boxes. It’s steeped in culture (the top floor was Modigliani’s studio, according to The Guardian). It’s full of artsy knick-knacks and decor. It’s also very small and unprepossessing in its way, which only adds to its allure for many a traveller. What a treasure.
4 A Volkswagen Beetle, Jordan: Now THIS Is A Small Hotel
Over the course of this rundown, we’ve already seen the current and ex-holder of the Guinness World Record for smallest hotel. Unofficially, though, there’s another that’s definitely smaller than both of them.
There’s only one small issue, though. I hate to be a stickler, but this next hotel isn’t actually a building at all. It’s a Volkswagen Beetle.
That’s right. As Insider reports, Mohammed al Malaheem stripped the interior and redecorated a Beetle, to form a tiny hotel that sleeps two guests. It’s found in the middle of the desert in Jordan, and the patriotic owner hopes to show guests how beautiful the region can be. He and his family make guests breakfast, and there’s even a lobby in a nearby cave, where he sells local goods.
It’s an odd little venture, but it seems to be going well. Al Malaheem is hoping to add more Beetles into the mix.
3 Book And Bed, Japan: A Restful Place To Stay
As you’ve no doubt seen, there can be something offputtingly clinical about the whole capsule hotel idea. The nature of the beast is that you’ll often have to cram in as many identical little pods as possible, and it can be super-uninspiring.
That’s not the case with Japan’s Book And Bed, though. At this unique establishment, literature-lovers can curl up with their favourite books in the most literal way: by climbing into a teeny bunk right there in the library and sleeping among the bookshelves. Needless to say, fans of the smell of old books and plain wood will find a lot to like about it.
2 Tubohotel, Mexico: It’s Very… Tubey
Do you remember Germany’s Das Park Hotel? Inviting guests to sleep in repurposed sewer pipes is a novel one, to say the least, but the craze for quirky hotels and other places to stay isn’t going anywhere. Our next stop is Mexico, where a similar sort of place offers guests an unforgettable experience.
This is Tepoztlan’s Tubohotel, where the rooms are rather harsh-looking tubes of concrete. Each just has space for a bed and lamp, and they’re arranged in a lush courtyard to give visitors that feeling of being surrounded by nature. Even though, when you think about it, there’s nothing less natural than concrete.
1 Kaiteki Hotel, Vietnam: En-Capsule-Ates Everything
So, there it was. Our whistlestop tour of some of the smallest hotels and hotel rooms anywhere on the planet. Whether I’ve sold you on the idea of capsule hotels, you were already a believer or they just aren’t for you, that’s all totally fine. It’s been an interesting case study for sure.
Our final stop is Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The Kaiteki Hotel was clearly inspired by the traditional capsule hotels of Japan, but with a curious futuristic spin. These little pods offer air conditioning along with all the usual mod cons, if you can stomach the confined space.
Resources: Business Insider, Escape Here, The Daily Mail, Condé Nast Traveler, MSN, TripAdvisor, Weetas Blog, Insider, The Guardian, Guinness World Records.