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Sydney’s cheapest ‘luxury’ hotel

Sydney has unveiled Australia’s first capsule hotel in the centre of the city, where rooms are going for a cool AUD $50 a night.

By Carla Grossetti
Published: 05 June, 2017

If you’re someone who likes to travel light and spend most of your time exploring your surrounds, then you may well enjoy bunking down in Australia’s first capsule hotel. While the world’s first capsule hotels, conceived in Japan, were basic pods aimed at workers who couldn’t afford high-end hotels, The Capsule Hotel in Sydney has flipped the no-frills concept to provide a more upscale experience. 

Plus points for the pods

The Capsule Hotel, Sydney, New South Wales

The cosy capsules – which are just 1.1 metres (3 feet 7 inches) wide and 2.1 metres (6 feet 10 inches) high –  aren’t for everyone, but if you’re looking for a clean, affordable and conveniently located crash pad, this could be your best bet.

Hotel manager Walter Yao says everyone from backpackers to festivalgoers and corporate travellers have booked into the pods in the heart of Sydney since the hotel opened its doors last week. “When I was travelling in Japan I saw these hotels and realised there was nothing in Australia like this,” Yao says. “The Capsule Hotel is a glorified version of a backpacker dormitory and will suit visitors who want a bed for the night in the heart of the action.

“Our main clientele are travellers who are in Sydney for either business or pleasure. It’s close to all the city’s major districts and suits visitors who want to have a night out and view festivals such as Vivid without having to travel very far.”

The hotel of the century

The Century Bar, Sydney, New South Wales

The hotel is upstairs from The Century Bar, a bar and pub that’s been operating on Sydney’s busy George Street since the 1920s. Yao took over the lease of The Century Bar in February 2016 and engaged Australian interior design studio Giant Design to manage a makeover of the whole building – including not just installation of the new capsules but the bar downstairs.

Giant Design director Ed Kenny says visitors will find the bar on the ground floor styled in a Great Gatsby-type theme, as the building has been redeveloped in accordance with its 1920s heritage. Upstairs, however, capsule accommodation has been given a decidedly more forward-focused feel.

“Staying in The Capsule Hotel is like going back in time,” Kenny says. “I’ve tried to teleport visitors back to Sydney in the 1920s with the bar, and then added a futuristic vibe upstairs in the hotel. The Capsule Hotel is definitely for a more discerning visitor. It’s for someone who is going to stay for a short time in Sydney and check in and then go off exploring the city. It’s a different experience. It’s like being in a meditation tank.”

The hotel of the future?

The Capsule Hotel, Sydney, New South Wales

Kenny says the interior of the capsules is in stark contrast to the hotel’s Art Deco-inspired environment. He describes the hotel’s 70 pods as “slick and high-tech”. “The inside of each capsule is a cushioned, white, womb-like interior, which is really contemporary,” Kenny says. “It features dimmable LED lights, climate controls, stereo system and TV and allows the visitor to customise their experience.”

Yao says he has been approached by other operators about setting up a second capsule hotel. “It would be great to roll out a similar boutique experience at a bargain basement price near to the airport aimed at fly-in fly-out business travellers who want to rest their head for a night or two,” he says.

More small places to stay on a budget

Veriu, Sydney, New South Wales

Sydney’s budget accommodation offerings have certainly expanded in recent years. Minimalists looking for a boutique hotel experience for a budget price should also look at the pod-style rooms with shared bathrooms at The Pod Sydney. It’s a hostel-hotel hybrid, where each air-conditioned room comes with wi-fi, a personal bedside light, and free linen and towels. Room rates start at AUD$38 a night.

Elsewhere, Sydney’s newest hotel chain, Veriu, is set to open it first full-service hotel in mid-June. The 64-room serviced apartment hotel, just off the inner-city street of Broadway, has self-contained studios as well as one- and two-bedroom split-level loft apartments. Veriu director Rhys Williams says what excites him about the bespoke hotel is the personalised experience it offers each guest. “Whether it’s exploring the local area on our complimentary bicycles or connecting guests with local must-sees, Veriu Broadway is all about providing a unique village experience,” he says.  Not bad, with rooms starting at AUD$170 a night.