Travel

Capsule hotel Ostelzzz pops up in Milan amid tourist boom

The Italian city, which has seen rising visitor numbers since Expo 2015, is seeing 'exceptional growth' in the affordable accommodation sector

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 Gen Y crowd.

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

Croatian tourist Dragan Kupresanin, 31, said 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 centre of Italy's economic capital, he is 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 - but here you have it," he said.

In the size of one standard hotel room, eight capsules - each measuring 1.45m by 1.45m by 2m - 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 phone or laptop, a lockable cupboard for luggage and a bedside table.

RATES START FROM $28

All this for between €19 a night (S$28), including breakfast, and €150 during Milan's world-famous Design Week.

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

Capsule hotels will be opened at six airports, including Milan and Warsaw, by the year end, with Vienna and four in Brazil to swiftly follow, making it the biggest such company in the world, says chief executive officer Gianmaria Leto.

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 last year, of which 65 per cent were foreigners.

Last September saw 700,000 visitors, up 18 per cent year on year, many of them youngsters.

"Four years ago, there were just three youth hostels, now there are 26, there is exceptional growth," said ZZZleepandGo 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.

Some 25 per cent are workers or students like Ms Monica Vici, 22, who lives at the Ostelzzz capsule hotel pending finding an apartment.

After or before her classes, she sits at her laptop in the sleek, stylised communal area, while nearby, people come and go to the hotel's 24-hour bar.

"You have privacy in the bedroom, but there is also a kitchen, you meet lots of people," she said.- AFP

TOURISM & TRAVEL