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In general, when traveling, most hotels are around ~100-150 a night if not more (especially in larger cities). In places like Japan and Singapore, there are pod hotels meant for single travelers/those on a budget. Is there such an equivalent in Western nations like the USA, even in larger cities like NYC? The closest I could find were hostels, which definitely seem cheaper than a standard hotel room, but I'm worried about not having as much privacy. I've also seen hotel rooms with slightly reduced space, but seem to be just as expensive as a standard hotel room. Are there any other alternatives that I may not be aware about?

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    Have you explored Airbnbs? Though it's not necessarily a hotel but it may suit your use-case.
    – Aak
    Aug 31 at 7:42
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    Single rooms are quite common in hotels in Germany. They are about 10%-20% cheaper than a double room.
    – Hilmar
    Aug 31 at 7:45
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    100-150 what? Euros? Indian rupees? ... Aug 31 at 10:35
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    @Fattie are you sure? "No" is quite a confident answer. There are capsule hotels all around the world and I've also been to a few hotels with a tiny single bed for single travelers though not in the Western world
    – phuclv
    Aug 31 at 15:06
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    @DKNguyen I'm only trying to point out that "that's only a thing in Japan" is completely false. And there's at least a pod hotel in NYC as you can see in the below answer
    – phuclv
    Sep 1 at 0:15
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There are not a lot of options equivalent to pod hotels, though some concepts in the same family do exist.

Some hostels have private rooms (sometimes still with a shared bathroom), which may be a good option those who want a hostel but with more privacy. These vary significantly in security and design, so you'd have to research that.

There are some micro-style hotels in expensive cities in the United States and other countries, though. Yotel has rooms starting around 100 sqft—not pods but quite compact. The Pod Hotels in New York City are a similar concept, and there are a few others in this category. While these hotels are cheaper than their larger competitors, they tend to be located in extremely expensive (in non-pandemic times anyway) cities, so rooms may still be over $100/night.

Consider it from the perspective of the hotel developer (pre-pandemic anyway). If you're in a city like NYC where hotels have very high occupancy at high room rates, what reason is there for you to try to strip space and amenities down to the point where, say, $50/night rooms are profitable when you can evidently make a solid profit off much more expensive standard hotel rooms?

I suspect many travelers in these countries that want budget accommodation prefer hostels or AirBnB short-term rental rooms over true capsules (which may be forbidden by "western" building codes and zoning anyway). Once you're to the point where it's a trade-off between a 100 sqft clean and well-maintained micro-hotel room vs a 250 sqft regular hotel room, you're more in the territory of comparing different levels of hotel costs than a notably cheaper category of lodging.

There may be some other forms of low-cost lodging that could be worth considering in some places. In some cases, it could also make sense to stay in cheaper lodging far outside the city center and use public transit to commute in.

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    I've seen a pod hotel while searching in Amsterdam. Didn't make much sense to me, as it was just as expensive as a regular hotel room, while offering less space and no private bathroom. Aug 31 at 11:07
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    In my experience as a woman travelling alone, a good hostel is far better than a bad hotel, although, I do have the option of a all-female dorm which is often not available to the lads. Aug 31 at 14:43
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    @TRiG No real reason other than they're large and well-known. But I meant Airbnb in the sense of any provider that lets you rent a room in shared accommodation (where such rentals are legal, which they often are not) because they tend to be cheap, rather than a B&B, which are more likely to be priced similarly to other hotels. Aug 31 at 22:23
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    @UnrecognizedFallingObject I don't mean small "pod" rooms, but rather true Japanese-style stacked capsules. Those pose a lot of concerns about things like fire safety and accessibility for people with disabilities that I'd imagine would at least be an interesting conversation with building inspector. There are some outside of Japan, but see this one in Australia which notes "Based on Australia's fire safety regulations, all of the capsules need to be remained unlocked." Sep 1 at 2:24
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    Maximum occupancy of the building is most likely the legal issue with pod hotels. Sure, you can probably convert your 200 room hotel to have 400 pods but no hotel owner is likely to want to do that. If you want to have 2000 pods you are going to have to increase the volume of internal corridors, stairwells and the capacity of the exits by a large amount to meet the fire regulations. It's certainly possible there are maximum building occupancy limits above which you can't operate a business regardless of how good your emergency exits are.
    – Eric Nolan
    Sep 2 at 10:16
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While this doesn't expressly address the "are there single traveler, pod-type hotels in the US?", it does offer a solution that the pod-type hotel would - lower cost.

The cost of the hotel room in a particular city (in the US, at least) is dictated a couple of factors:

  1. The "chain" or brand of hotel you're booking.

    Hilton is more expensive that Motel 6. Always and forever.

  2. The location of the hotel.

    Downtown is more expensive than the suburbs. Generally. Some suburbs have a large business sector and are more upscale than others.

The general concept is that business travelers aren't paying for their own room, so they're less cost sensitive (hey, the company's paying, might as well have a nice place, right?), but they're highly convenience sensitive (I don't have time to travel from the work place to a cheap place in the 'burbs, especially after wining & dining a potential client until late in the evening). Additionally, the business traveler may not have private transportation (a rental/hire car) and be fully dependent on public transport and/or simply walking from the work site to the hotel. (I was in that situation for a new job - working remote, but spent a week onsite to meet people - my hotel was literally across the street from the work site.)

However, individual travelers on vacation/visiting family/etc. are paying for their own room so they're more price sensitive and less convenience sensitive.

If you need to visit NYC, consider staying across the river in NJ. Hotel rooms will be cheaper (even for the same brand) because location, location, location! You'll pay for it, though, in additional travel time, cost and inconvenience in having to get in and out of the city each day you need to make the trip. This is exactly what my wife & I did when we visited my family in Manhattan with our young kids a decade or so ago. We stayed in Jersey and made an adventure of traveling into the city each day so it was fun for them. We took the tunnel, we took different bridges, etc. As a family on vacation, we could do that. As a business traveler, that would have been a nightmare.

Generally speaking, you're going to get the same quality and amenities by choosing a suburb Hilton v a downtown Hilton (substitute Motel 6, if desired), but you're going to pay less the further away from the city center you go.

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There are single room options in regular hotels, if not all and often not many per hotel even if they do exist, so likely to be booked out when you book on short notice.

How many and how much cheaper does depend on location and the market they serve.

I find them when using a hotel booking site which allows searching for a single occupant.

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    Way too often the single rate is much more than half the 'two people per room' rate. Often you only get the second breakfast taken off the bill.
    – Willeke
    Aug 31 at 16:29
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    Or 80/100 or 170/200, which is more my experience with single occupancy of double rooms. And often Breakfast is included whether you want it or not.
    – Willeke
    Aug 31 at 16:32
  • @eckes - I can't remember the last time I was at a hotel that charged based on the number of people in it. It has been by the room for most of my adult life, across a range of price points, in the US and Europe.
    – Jon Custer
    Sep 2 at 17:36
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Another example of pod hotels meant for single travelers/those on a budget: https://www.pandapodhotels.com/ (Vancouver, Canada), where I happened to stay recently

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In Western Europe, you will find discount hotel chains like F1, Première Classe, B&B Hotels, or Ibis Budget. They do not offer capsules but rather rooms for up to 2-3 people, often en-suite. They seem to cater to a similar market, though, and easily beat your $100-150 price (typically under €50 for a room, even for single occupancy). They are common in midsize towns but they exist in major cities, too. They are usually located outside the city center and easier to access by car than public transportation.

There are also a handful of places marketed as hostels where redesigned beds turn a small dorm in a kind of mini capsule hotel, e.g. BUNK (Amsterdam) or Hosho (Paris).

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Possibly not the geography you're looking for, but there is a pod hotel at the departures area of Moscow Sheremetyevo airport. It has about a dozen pods, maybe a bit more. I don't remember the terminal, though - it was an Aeroflot flight code-shared with LOT to Warsaw in June this year, if that helps. I also don't know the price, or about other airports - I didn't see any at Vnukovo, but there I only saw the arrivals area.

In any case, this is evidence that the thing you're looking for is findable outside of Japan.

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Yes, many hostels in Europe have been switching over to pod hotels in recent years. There's a pretty nice one that I've seen in Tallinn, Estonia. Just search "pod" or "capsule" on a booking site and you're bound to find a few. I do not think this trend would apply in the USA, where hostels never really took off in the first place.

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