Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Airport Sleeping Pods Taking Over the World

You have long layover or delayed flight. You’re super spent and want to sleep. You:

  1. Knock your head back, causing drool to run down your face and irreparable neck damage.
  2. Take a nap on the floor–the same floor trodden by thousands of dirty soles, from thousands of lands.
  3. If there is no raised arm rest, you stretch out on some heavily canted airport seats, simultaneously getting marginal sleep and ensuring the growth of the chiropractic industry.

A few upstarts from around the world are tackling this issue of airport sleep deprivation with small sleeping cubes. While they haven’t exactly taken over the world (the 3 here are only in one airport each), they offer minimal sleeping quarters for the beleaguered traveler.

Napcabs (pictured above) is a German-based company with one outlet in the Munich airport (it had 2, but one is being serviced). It features a bed, soundproof walls, wifi, a multimedia screen with flight information and “anti-jetlag” lighting. Bedding is changed by an on-call cleaning staff.

At anywhere from 10-15€/hour, with a minimum 30€ charge, it’s not cheap, though consider if you’re flying overnight, this is a fraction of a hotel room’s cost.

Sleepbox is in the Moscow airport and has very similar features as Napcabs. The one edge Sleepbox has is that it features 2 beds, not 1. According to Wikipedia, they charge $15USD/hour.

Wikipedia also said there are concerns about bed-bugs. Unlike Napcabs, Sleepbox does not explicitly say how linens are dealt with. I am hardly a germophobe, but this seems like a major oversight. A post in Treehugger.com indicates that they originally wanted to use an automated linen changing system, but instead opted for traditional linen. We imagine/hope they have some sanitary setup.

Sleepbox is smartly trying to position itself as a space maximizer for hostels. While airports are a great application, I could imagine these units as replacements for real hotels and hostels, particularly for people who just need a place to sleep.

Snoozecube has 10 sleeping cubes set up in the Dubai airport. The company is from New Zealand, evidenced by the big fern leaf, similar to that of the All Black Rubgy team, emblazoned on their cubes and bedding. Like the others, they cost $16USD, are soundproof, offer wifi and connections to flight info. Their look is not quite as posh as the other 2, but the fact that they are clustered together in Dubai makes them like a makeshift hotel, which seems to make sense as you can have a standing staff and some isolation from the rest of the airport (something I think would be nice even if the cubes are soundproof).

High priced, hourly sleep cubes in airports might not be everyone’s bag. But similar to the Japanese sleeping pods we looked at a while back, these firms are showing an alternative to hotel rooms that feature more–and cost more–than most travelers would prefer.

Have you ever used any of these, or similar, sleeping boxes? What was your experience? We’d love to hear from you.

  • Eleanor

    Yotel in London Heathrow Terminal 4 (and a few other airports) is quite similar, but it’s a little bigger, and has a shower and toilet. Minimum charge is for 4 hours, which seems to start around £25 for 4 hours, with £6.50 per additional. One potential issue is that it’s landside (outside security) which means you need to be able to pass through UK security. But compared to the Heathrow Hilton, it’s a steal for long layovers or early morning flights.

  • Charlotte

    Who needs linen? If the alternative is the floor or several airport seats, surely a vinyl upholstered flat surface would suffice for an hour or two. Even for napping at home in our own bed, most of us do not undress, so the need for linen, blanket, pillow, and disinfection wipes could be covered by a vending machine. Stranded passengers should be used to this concept of “upgrading” since airlines already charge for just about anything beyond the few square inches of seat you bought with your ticket.

  • liz jones

    Amsterdam airports have a similar version, but bigger i believe. Only complaint, they did not wake me up for my flight and I almost missed my connection to Arusha.

  • Jason

    Stayed at the Yotel at Heathrow during a layover. Had arrived late and needed to travel onward again first thing the following morning. It was great value, comfortable and was able to get some much needed rest.

  • YoungSally

    I certainly think the idea is great, I just hope that they aren’t hijacked by random people “hooking up” — then I worry about the linen situation.

    • lifeedited

      very good–and unnerving–point

  • Lightweight Traveler

    Similar idea: There is a self-service hotel at the Marseilles airport in France. It’s located amongst the handful of airport hotels on the entry roads. It looked to be a converted Motel 6 type. If I recall correctly, it was around 40-50 Euros per night(for two of us, 2010). Once you paid via an “atm” style check-in on the exterior, you received a key card that gave you access to the lobby and your room. There were vending machines(hot drinks & packaged “food”) and a security guard in the lobby. It’s set up like a dormitory. It was sparse but very clean. The small room was very simple; bunk beds, comfortable mattresses, clean white linens, good quality pillows,clean carpet, very clean bathroom with excellent water pressure, soap and shampoo was provided, the towels were of good quality. The advantage this has over cubicles is the full bathroom and 2-3 times the space. The disadvantage would be that it’s not actually in the airport.

    Two of us needed a place to rest and clean up between the hours of 11pm and 4am, and didn’t want to pay $$$ for a utilitarian rest stop, and there were no vacancies anyway. We were rudely kicked out of several hotel lobbies and were preparing to spend the night on the curb when we found this place. (The French can be inhospitable if you don’t meet their expectations but they are fastidiously clean). Anyway, this self-service hotel was a great idea. Early the next morning we were well rested and clean, ready for our 12 hour flight.
    I wish these existed in the U.S. They make all the sense in the world for “life-edited” type travelers. Why pay for services and amenities that you don’t need? There’s a market waiting to be tapped…

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