Tiny Hotels: Yotel Sees if They'll Fly in U.S.


Yotel also realized its entertainment options would be key to luring guests away from other economy hotel options, which often fail to deliver on the hotel ambience front. Large public areas replete with cushiony Tetris-shaped seating give way to streamlined Japanese style restaurant areas, a Yoga and movie theater space and their crowning jewel: the largest hotel roof bar in New York City offering 180 degree views of the gleaming landscape. Snack and cocktail menus replace the traditional club sandwich, caesar salad and glass of chardonnay offerings of most economy hotels with items like spicy tuna sushi and mango and ginger martinis. Heywood puts it succinctly: "The location and pricepoint are great, and the hotel does not compromise with its style."

Will guests choose Yotel over, say, a Hampton Inn? Will it revolutionize the hotel industry? That there's a market for luxury for less is indisputable - in this economy, travelers parting with hard-earned cash want a comfortable and stylish experience. Whether people will take to diminutive quarters is another question.

Yotel does have one last card to play though...next to a bank of automated check in desks on street level lurks the biggest star of Yotel so far - the Yobot. This gleaming white monster is responsible for storing visitor's luggage, which it does so in a compartmentalized wall that bears a closer resemblance to the original Japanese capsule concept that the evolved Yotel itself.

Gimmick or not, the Yobot has garnered valuable attention.... passersby stop to gawk, and the robotic bellhop has even been featured on a recent webisode of Will Ferrell's "Funny or Die," competing for its position with such machines as R2D2 and Robocop. The Yobot has been somewhat temperamental thus far and when we visited was off color, hanging sadly, its luggage claw amputated. I'm reassured it is now back in action... just in time to handle the volumes of purchases that will surely be made by guests saving valuable shopping money by staying at Yotel..

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