What do you get when you cross the hotel industry with a low-fare discounted airline? You get easyHotel (tel. +44 20 7216 1717; www.easyhotel.com), a dirt-cheap, no-frills franchise specializing in high-volume properties containing only tiny rooms with nothing more than a bed and a bathroom with no space in between. Self-described "serial entrepreneur," Stelios Haji-Ioannou, who founded the European discount airline, easyJet, is now applying his concept of lower-cost-for-fewer-amenities to accommodations, resulting in the first easyHotel, which opened in London on August 1, 2005.
Billed as "London for £20 per night," easyHotel might revolutionize the hotel industry by taking it one step closer to a true Western version of the Japanese innovation of the "capsule" hotel. The difference here is the sliding rate scale. Customers can book their room directly through the easyHotel website with a credit card and get a lower room rate based on booking earlier when availability is greater. Room rates start at that above mentioned £20 ($35). If you don't book early, the rates top out around £50 to £60 ($87 to $105) per night.
While hoping to franchise the easyHotel concept worldwide, Stelios (he goes by his first name only) already has more hotels coming in Switzerland and other European nations. Plans to come to the United States are pending. The first easyHotel is located in Lexham Gardens in central London near Gloucester Road in South Kensington. Rooms come in three varieties -- with a window, without a window, and for the disabled. Smaller than bunks on a cruise ships, the 9' X 10' rooms come equipped with bedding, a self-contained bathroom unit consisting of a toilet, sink basin and shower. Rooms with windows are slightly more expensive than rooms without windows. If you want to give easyHotel a try, book your room quickly. Availability at the Lexham Gardens location is dwindling.
If rooms at the easyHotel are booked, the website has a diverse and deep database of lower-priced hotels in London and most other major tourist destinations.
- A search for New York for a mid-week August stay yielded several pages of options, the least expensive of which were a $140 per night rate with breakfast at the Comfort Inn on Central Park West and a $158 room at the Hotel Pennsylvania, directly across the street from Madison Square Garden.
- A search for Paris for the same August dates counted 25 plus pages of hotel ranging in price from $70 per night at the Hibiscus near Place de la Republique to $440 for a deluxe room at the Hotel Napoleon, just steps from the Arc de Triomphe.
In addition to hotels, the site has a search engine that covers sightseeing tours and events in over 100 destinations. A sightseeing search for Amsterdam showed several excursions including a canal boat trip for $12.50, a four-hour trip to neighboring fishing villages that give you a glimpse of the old Amsterdam, several dinner cruises, transportation passes and a walking tour of the infamous red light district. No, there is no easyHotel in Amsterdam yet, so you'll have to wait for what will surely be the most inexpensive, clean, no frill room in the city. With easyHotel's bright orange logo, you won't miss it when it arrives.