Remember that scene in Fifth Element, where they travel to the paradise planet and sleep in pod-like beds? Well I got to experience the sci-fi backpacker dream at 91 on Loop recently, and I must say, it was pretty darn cool.
Attending a blogger evening at 91 Loop last month, we were some of the lucky ones to receive a comped stayover in their new sleep pod accommodation.
Very chuffed with our modern key card – that when pressed would light up our sleep pods in a soft blue light, so we’d know which was ours – we enjoyed a night on the Town without worrying about the long trek home to Muizenberg.
Set up much like a backpacker or hostel, each room sleeps at least twenty travellers. The pods are designed to lie directly into the wall, like a row of horizontal “nooks”, with room for a single bed.
Each sleep pod comes with it’s own bed, bedding, a light, a plug for charging ones tech and a locker for storing luggage safely. Bathrooms and showers are shared, but weren’t crowded.
As someone who suffers from claustrophobia at the worst of times (ahem elevator), when we settled in for the night I found the pods surprisingly spacious and somewhat cosy. The cocoon-like sleep pod is also nice and quiet inside, which is handy in a room of strangers.
While on par with hostels and backpackers when it comes to affordability, the clever “sleep pod” design allows for a sense of privacy and luxury – not to mention a feeling of being transported into the future.
An overlapping travel trend is the “capsule hotel”, which is defined as a private space in a shared room and is designed for a more sophisticated experience than your typical hostel, such as free wifi and more privacy.
Surprisingly ahead of it’s time, Japan was the first to open a capsule hotel in the late 70s, in order to meet the need of travelling businessmen who required a place to rest and freshen up between stops.
In 2012 China followed suit, but the capsule hotel concept only reached Europe in 2014, when the first one opened in Belgium. More recently they’ve been popping up all over – from Mexico, Amsterdam, Singapore and now closer to home, in South Africa…
This travel trend is particularly popular at airports, where it is also referred to as “transit hotels” (beds or pods that can be hired by the hour at international airports).
While the concept of small, affordable and efficient prevails, the application of the capsule hotel design varies.
From our personal experience of “sleep pods” – which only have enough room for a single bed – to snooze pods that are paid for by the hour. The accommodation design can even allow for bathrooms and other amenities, resembling a tiny hotel room.
But the question is – is this a glimpse into the future of travel or just another passing novelty that will soon be forgotten?