Global EditionASIA 中文双语Français
Home / Travel

New hotel encapsulates Milan's tourist renaissance

Updated: 2019-12-31 09:21
Share - WeChat
Milan now has a capsule hotel, as tourist numbers explode in the Italian city. [Photo/Agencies]

Milan-Cheap and cheerful capsule hotels are forever expanding from their Japanese cradle, including now in Milan where the tiny, stacked rooms are helping the Italian city cope with exploding tourist numbers.

With no-fuss convenience for both the city and transport links, digital connectivity and a social side among their chief selling points, the capsule hotels target the Generation-Y crowd.

Some people, though, just stay out of sheer curiosity.

Croatian tourist Dragan Kupresanin, 31, says he wanted to try the room because "it looked like something new, futuristic style ... those kind of boxes that you sleep in".

After sleeping like a log at Ostelzzz, down a quiet street in the center of Italy's economic capital, he's ready for more.

"I really liked it. This kind of hotel should be developed. Many people avoid youth hostels because of the privacy problem with bunk beds, etc. But here you have it," he says.

In the size of one standard hotel room, eight capsules-each measuring 1.45 by 1.45 by 2 meters-are stacked on top of each other, four above and four below, with an enclosed toilet space in the room and showers down the corridor.

Inside the capsule is a mattress with duvet and pillow, two charging plugs for mobile phones or laptops, a lockable cupboard for luggage and a bedside table.

All this for between 19 euros ($21) a night, including breakfast, and 150 euros during Milan's Design Week.

Japanese origin

The first capsule hotels were born in Osaka, Japan in 1979, travel blogger Agnese Sabatini says.

The tiny rooms took off thanks to commuters who had drunk too much or just missed the last train home.

Since then, the concept has taken off around the world, first in airports, from Paris to Moscow and Bangkok, and then in cities like Singapore, Seoul or Mumbai.

Nevertheless, in Europe, capsule hotels are rare outside of airports.

There is, for example, the City Hub in Amsterdam and the Lucerne capsule hotel that opened in Switzerland at the end of 2018.

Milan is the first Italian city to have a capsule hotel, but the company behind it, ZZZleepandGo, is expanding.

Capsule hotels will open at six airports, including those in Milan and Warsaw, by year-end, with Vienna and four in Brazil to swiftly follow, making ZZZleepandGo the biggest such company in the world, says CEO Gianmaria Leto.

On top of adding five or six airports a year, "our objective is to create one or two (capsule) hotels a year over the next five years in main European cities," Leto says.

The Italian company says it expects its annual turnover to grow to 10 million euros ($11 million) in five years, compared to 1 million in 2019.

Closed in

"The only negative aspect of a capsule hotel is the feeling of being closed in, of claustrophobia, that some people get," Sabatini says.

Otherwise, it's a win-win-win, offering, "privacy, low cost and all within reach of the city", says the writer of the "I'll B right back" blog.

"Small spaces aren't a problem for young people," she says.

"What they want is technology, like automated check-in, sockets to charge their electronics", but also communal areas to meet new people, she adds.

Milan has seen a tourist boom since the city's Expo 2015, thanks to its fashion and design weeks, as well as its Duomo (cathedral), museums and vibrant nightlife.

The city went from 4.2 million visitors in 2011 to 6.8 million in 2018, 65 percent of which were foreigners.

Last September saw 700,000 visitors, up 18 percent year-on-year. Many were young.

"Four years ago, there were just three youth hostels. Now, there are 26. There's exceptional growth," says ZZZleepandGo's chief operating officer, Fabio Rocchetti.

The hotel, which can also be booked via the Airbnb website, attracts a varied clientele, and not just visitors to the city.

About a quarter are workers or students like Monica Vici, who is living at the Ostelzzz capsule hotel while searching for an apartment.

Before and after her classes, the 22-year-old sits at her laptop in the sleek, stylized communal area, while, nearby, people come and go to the hotel's 24-hour bar.

"You have privacy in the bedroom, but there's also a kitchen. You meet lots of people," she says.

The staff, all under 40, are "very attentive", says the Rome native.

Not all guests are millennials.

The hotel had an 86-year-old guest, and boasts a family room with four interconnected capsules.

English-language teacher Patricia Ann Wells stays there three nights a week and is equally smitten.

"I like it here because of the friendly environment. It's like being at home," the 48-year-old says.

Agence France-Press

Most Popular
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349