Yotel isn't your stereotypical hotel decked out with fancy antiques and fine art from centuries ago. Oh no, a stay at Yotel is almost like a scene straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, if black and white were replaced with purple and silver. Yotel is a hotel from a completely different galaxy — think "airports" and "space" smashed into Japanese capsule hotels.
The baby of Simon Woodroffe, Yotel was apparently conceived after he was upgraded to a first class flight during a trip, and that luxury inspired him. He opened Yotels in London's Gatwick and Heathrow airports in 2007, and then later in Amsterdam, and the first Yotel successfully made the leap over the pond into the heart of New York City this past June.
Yotel doesn't look like much of a hotel from the outside (it's relatively close to the not-so-scenic Port Authority Bus Terminal and its bus lots), but step inside and you feel like you've discovered a portal into a secret airport or spaceship straight out of the future.
Yo, yo, yodel. Is that how it goes? Actually, no. Yotel has nothing to do with the delicious chocolate snack and is really just an extension of Woodroffe's YO! empire, which includes the likes of YO! Sushi, YO! Japan, YO! Home and so on.
You see where this is going: Yo and hotel. Yotel. It's short, it's memorable and it sounds futuristic for some reason. It works.
Instead of being greeted by a doorman or waiting in line to check-in, Yotel encourages guests to do a self check-in via one of its lobby kiosks (just like checking in at an airport). Not having to make chit-chat with hotel personnel might seem cold and mechanical at first (and offers zero chance for a room upgrade), but it's all for the sake of efficiency. On one end of the lobby is a kiosk of a different beast: a robotic arm that picks up your luggage and stores it in a bank of lockers.
Yobot: The Most Advanced Luggage Storage System
It's already rare enough to find a robot in a hotel, so it's even more interesting that Yotel has a robot that isn't just a piece of interactive art to stare at. Guests simply key in their confirmation codes into kiosk and the Yobot will accept any luggage(s) of up to 100 pounds and stash it for ya. It's not ideal for storing luggage with a change of clothes in it, but it's great for that second or third bag filled with souvenirs you don't need access to during your stay.
Powered by "T-Tech" — a partnership between Yotel and travel gear makers Tumi — the Yobot is the only one of its kind in any hotel operation, and gathers quite the crowd, even on a dull day.
Designed to Transform
From the elevators to the look of the furniture to the signage, it's not hard to see that Yotel is designed to bring elements of flight and Japanese zen into its quarters. A main desk up on the fourth floor (should you require its services) is called Mission Control — a nod to NASA's space centers — and even its open lounges, presentation rooms and screening theater have little accents like seats that curve in on the sides to give them that airplane cabin aesthetic.
Nothing is spared for Yotel's shapeshifting motif. Take the Japanese Dohyo restaurant located on the fourth floor. It has communal tables that elevate from the ground to reveal seats. In case your Japanese is a little rusty, a "dohyo" is a sumo wrestling ring. As such, the tables can be retracted back into the flooring and a cover can be placed on top of it to transform the dining area into a stage (or sumo wrestling ring). How cool is that?
But the real theme for Yotel is using transforming spaces to keep its "cabin" rooms cozy.
Are You Reserved For Premium, First or VIP?
Regular 167-square-feet rooms are called "Premium Cabins." Despite the small size, there are plenty of little touches to make good use of the space, like a dresser and luggage unit that has a seatbelt buckle for keeping luggages strapped in instead of on the floor. There are also slots designed specifically to stow luggage or bags underneath the bed, and placing the bathroom in the rear of the room instead of at the entrance helps enhance the joy of a "flight" at Yotel.
Stepping up from the Premium rooms, there are the First Cabins. These rooms aren't a huge leap in space over Premium Cabins, and the design is nearly as tight too, but there is the option of getting an elegant bunk bed — a rare thing in hotel.
Should you have tons of money, you can go all out with the VIP suite. We're told VIP suites have attracted the likes of Jay-Z, Beyonce and Busta Rhymes to casually roll in for a nonchalant hush-hush gathering. As its name suggests, VIP suites are a little swankier and allow for a lot more room. VIP suites are still modern enough to fulfill even the wildest space fantasies. With amenities like a circular bed that rotates at the click of a button, airship-shaped Bowers & Wilkins speakers lined up along the walls, huge flatscreen HDTVs in every room and an iMac workstation, you'd be forgiven if you forgot you were staying in a hotel.
Purple, Silver And Green, Too
With 669 rooms and 27 floors, Yotel isn't exactly a small operation, but it is one that will be greener, moving forward.
The hotel plans to automate its lighting systems in the near future (currently only available in VIP suites) to allow for greater energy savings. Lights will automatically turn on when you walk in and turn off when you walk out. Yotel hasn't announced any other plans beyond automatic lighting, but seeing as all the cabins feel like they have that pressurized air within an airplane, it's possible that Yotel will be able to have room temperature and the such fully automated as well in the future.
Information regarding Yotel's rates and other FAQs can be found on Yotel's website, but, in case you can't get out, you can take our handy captioned tour by clicking into the gallery below (if it's not showing up, give it a few seconds to load).