2008 Sleeper Magazine European Design Award of the Year for citizenM (Dutch Design 33)

CitizenM

I would have loved to attend the Sleepers Magazine London Sleep Event, but luckily this morning a press release in my mailbox got me up to date:

Some excerpts:

London, 7 November 2008.

The European Hotel Design Awards, presented by Sleeper Magazine on Thursday, 6 November 2008, is the premier celebration of outstanding innovations in the hospitality industry and hotel design in Europe.

“This was perhaps the most hotly contested decision I have seen the judging panel have to make in the six years I have been involved in these awards. But I think it is fair to say that the eventual winner is a hotel that stood out from the competition in all aspects of its conception. Not just it’s design and architecture, but also its use of technology, it’s marketing, its future development potential and most importantly, the seamless integration of all these into a product that offers the guest a rewarding experience. The winning project was acknowledged by the panel to be a radically new hotel concept that will have considerable influence on others in the industry for years to come.”

Says Matt Turner, editor in chief of Sleeper Magazine.

The Dutch hotel group citizenM has won the grand prize: The European Hotel Design Award of the Year.

and three awards in the categories:

THE INNOVATION AWARD
“The judges looked at the added value for the guest, the concept design, various use within the hotel, the building, the property, guest experience, use of information database, to check out and unanimously award the hotel who has accomplished to achieve this within all aspects of a hotel.”

Ahmed Akudi, International Projects Director, Grohe AG

THE TECHNOLOGY AWARD
“… We’ve seen moving facades. The innovation of this hotel gives a scope and a degree of innovation… There’s one clear winner.. citizenM hotels!” Guy Dittrich, journalist.

THE GRAPHIC DESIGN AWARD
“The art within hotel design illustrates a choice, a brand, an unique website, an experience recognisable through website, brochures and overall decor…” Juliet Kinsman, editor in chief, Mr & Mrs Smith.

michael-levie
Michael Levie

We are thrilled by the recognition of the European Hotel Design Awards jury. Our team and partners worked hard to create an innovative, contemporary hotel for the cost conscious traveller. We looked at every business process to enhance and improve the stay of a guest in our hotels. The result citizenM hotels has made is a quantum leap in innovation, which now is prestigiously recognised by hotel industry professionals from all over the world. says Michael Levie, CEO citizenM hotels.

My observations:

citizenM hotels opened their first hotel in June 2008 at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The second hotel, close to Amsterdam’s city center, will open in April 2009. A third property in Glasgow will also open its doors next year. citizenM hotels plans to open 20 hotels in the coming 5 years in all major capital cities of Europe.

I have covered CitizenM extensively:

  1. Third Pod Hotel Concept for Amsterdam Revealed
  2. Amstelveen: Citizen M and the Neighbourhood
  3. Amsterdam CitizenM Opening (1)
  4. CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Opening (2): The Room
  5. CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Opening (3) Final Observations

I publish this for completeness sake.

However, although I admire and like the various design features and concepts and am proud that a Dutch brand is getting so much Kudos, I do believe the German chain Motel One is doing a much better job with less design features…….

The main reasons for my observation:

  1. Motel One has perfect parking facilities for those traveling by car.
  2. Motel One has rooms you can occupy with two persons rather than one. This has to do with the place of the double bed of a citizenM room: You can’t enter your bed without crawling over your partner or have him / her crawling over you.
  3. Motel One has a separate perfectly designed fully fledged bathroom opposed to the citizenM bath “sphere”.
  4. Motel One has windows you can open.

Also interesting see a Mr & Mrs Smith representative in the jury…. I wonder if the distinguished members of the jury have had the honor of sleeping in a citizenM room….

A final question: Would you expect so much online coverage for a Hotel chain from an agency with such website :Birgit Schmoltner?

50 of the World’s Best Budget Hotels – Telegraph

Would like to point you to this excellent list in view of the current economic malaise:

50 of the World’s Best Budget Hotels

Sara Macefield chooses stylish places to stay that won’t break the bank.

By Sara Macefield
Last Updated: 4:13PM GMT 28 Oct 2008
50 of the world’s best budget hotels – Telegraph

The Pod Chateau

Pod Charteau

As an addict to the Pod Hotel concept (read my Pod Hotel Series), especially in economically dire times a worthwhile concept, I couldn’t leave this ultimate pod hotel idea unshared: The Pod Chateau.

Motel One: Wrong Name for German’s Ultimate Designer Pod Hotels?

Motel One Logo

Recently, on recommendation of a friend, we stayed three nights in the Motel One Munich City Ost. It is important to mention the “City Ost” part in its name, as currently Munich has three and soon will have four Motel Ones. Currently, in Germany there are already 21 Motel Ones and they are expanding rapidly.

Why do I believe it is the Ultimate Pod Hotel?

Recently I reviewed the CitizenM Amsterdam Schiphol, the first of a chain te be rolled out, and I was really impressed by its philosophy and its design.
However, Motel One has four plus points when compared to CitizenM:

  1. Its double beds are old fashion placed and accessible on three sides. Not via one side.
  2. You can shower and use the toilet in a separate very cleverly designed small bathroom
  3. Has its own car parking in the cellar
  4. Has windows you can open

Motel One Locations
Are preferably inner-city locations or in peripheral areas of cities and then, with convenient access and visually prominent locations, next to motorways and surrounded by arterial routes and/or in busy locations such as commercial, industrial or mixed-use areas.
Motel One’s Lounge

Motel One Chairs

Has designer chairs and a wide screen with a fake fish aquarium program that I hate and have seen in other places as well. At the back of the chairs you see one of the structural columns that have brick or stone strips as wall covering. They have a function as separation of several compartments of the ground floor. They give the whole a bit homey feeling.

MOTEL-ONE-MUENCHEN-LOUNGE-ANNEX-BREAKFAST-ROOM-

Has a triple function as reception, bar and breakfast room, while the breakfast buffet is cleverly hidden when not in use by a folding separation. The people at our place were very friendly and check in is very simple: It is done by real life people and not by computer screens with the usually necessary assistance from people. Check out is very easy: At Motel One you are required to prepay for your whole stay, so at check out you don’t have to do anything else than return your key card. There are no mini bars and you are required to pay cash or by card when you order something from the bar which is open at least till one AM, but I presume you can get something during the whole night as the reception is staffed 24/7.

Motel One Lounge

Here you see the seating area for the breakfast part of the lounge with the folding separation that covers the breakfast buffet area.
Granted The CitizenM lounge is flashier, but this lounge is also okay.

Motel One rooms
Are small, no question about that. Hence I’m coining it a Designer Pod hotel rather than a Motel.

MOTEL-ONE-MUENCHEN-BEDROOM

But as you can see they are cleverly dimensioned. You can move around. At your left side you see a small sort of cupboard where you can hang some clothes.

MOTEL-ONE-MUENCHEN-BEDROOM-03

The bed, accessible from three sides, with clever easy to clean headboard and no footboard (I’m 6″4). good reading lights.

MOTEL-ONE-MUENCHEN-BEDROOM-02

Photo taken in the direction of the bathroom and entrance. Here you see part of the open cupboard with places for stuff.

Motel One Bathroom

MOTEL-ONE-MUENCHEN-BATHROOM-03

I have yet to find a pod hotel bathroom that has this good lay out and design. There is no bath, but a shower stall that measures 80 by 160 cm. I really like the huge horizontally placed white tiles. The floor of the shower stall is a simple Bette polyester showerfloor. Easy to clean and not slippery at all. It matches fine with the black tiles of the floor and the under side of the sink. You can easily reach for your towel from the shower. Waste basket under the sink where you anticipate it to be. The glass separation is partly glued to the side of the table holding the Philippe Starck designed sink. That gives it great strength. In addition the accessibility is good, even if you are a big fellow like me, and you don’t have to wrestle with a shower curtain while the Bette shower floor sees to it that the floor between the toilet and the sink is not inundated when you take a shower. This is an example of how a small bathroom can be. I really like it!

I have a few minor points of critique:

  1. If everybody wants to have breakfast at the same time the space is too cramped.
  2. The two coffee machines of the breakfast buffets give a unnecessarily bad quality coffee. I believe it is the quality of the coffee or the fine tuning of the machines. That’s not clever, because everybody for breakfast now orders a coffee at the bar from the fine Italian espresso machine. Hence you get lines…In addition they are understaffed when they have to make time consuming cappuccinos and have to serve guests with questions, for checking out or for checking in….
  3. No soap holders in the shower stalls???
  4. You don’t have to pay for WiFi in the lounge, but you have to pay for WiFi in your room.

About Motel One
Motel One
is operated by Motel One Management GMBH, which is 65 % owned by One Hotels and Resorts AG. 35% of Motel One Management GMBH is held by a Dutch BV, MSRESS Motel One Holding B.V., a holding company for Morgan Stanley Real Estate’s Special Situations Fund III that funded Motel One in 2007.

Company history:
1987 Astron Holding GmbH founded as a private limited company.
1993 Astron Holding GmbH converted into a PLC and renamed ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG
1999 Motel One GmbH formed as a 100% subsidiary of ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG
2002 ASTRON Hotels GmbH, a 100% subsidiary of ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG, with 51 Hotels and over 8000 rooms sold to NH Hoteles, Spain
2005 Legal form and name of ASTRON Hotels & Resorts AG changed, creating Motel One AG which after the infusion of capital by Morgan Stanley is now known as One Hotels and Resorts AG, which has a couple of hotels left form the sale of its former portfolio to NH Hoteles.

Total number of hotels: 21 Motel Ones in Germany (see : Motel One Site)

Total number of rooms: 3,000.
6 Hotels under construction: München-Sendlinger Tor – 241 rooms opening in 2009; Leipzig – 189 rooms; Hamburg-Airport – 252 rooms; Berlin Urania – 411 rooms; Berlin Bellevue – 248 rooms; München-City – 463 rooms, which will bring the total number of rooms to slightly under 5,000 rooms.
Category – 2 star (rating issued by the German Hotel and Restaurant Association DEHOGA)
Room sizes – Clear room dimensions: 2,72 m × 5,80 m – Room dimensions between axes: 2,90 m × 6,21 m – Net Area per room: 13,28 qm – Gross area per room: 22 – 24 qm
Room prices: from € 49
Last updated 08/2008
Source: Motel One

Verdict

When I see “Motel” I have an association with seedy worn out US (or Dutch or German) side of the road accommodations too greasy to enter. Therefor I believe the name is ill chosen. I believe it is a pod hotel by the size and conciseness of its rooms, the 3 in 1 lounge, but from the pod hotels I have seen or been in, it is the most complete one.

If you want a bed to crash in, do go with rates from Euro 49 to Euro 89. I am already prebooking a room in a Berlin Motel One for the 2009 ITB Berlin Blogers meet up.

CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Opening (3): Final Observations

I have uploaded my photos of the opening to Happy Hotelier’s Flickr Account. Some final observations:

The name
Correctly spelled the name is CitizenM and not Citizen M. I cannot change this in my prior posts because of the archiving system I am using here.

The Launch Party
After the Press conference there was the official opening. Rattan Chadha (Chairman) and Micheal Levy (CEO) held a speech and then everybody attending got a piccolo of champagne with the request to have the cork popping out at the same moment after a count down. The photos show a Happier Boss than at the press conference.

Rattan Gandha Opening the CitizenM
Rattan Chaddha Opening the CitizenM

He emphasized that the whole operation is a matter of teamwork, but as an onlooker I would say this is his baby and the team should do as he says. Not bad though, because the result is really innovative. See the glowing review of a frequent traveler as a comment to one of my prior posts.

Philips was represented by Andrea Ragnetti
Philips was represented by Andrea Ragnetti

I believe they made a giant step forward with Philips in applying domotica in hotel design with the Mood Pad.
Extensive coverage by the Press
There was a huge attendance of TV, writing press and Bloggers.

Extensive TV Coverage
Extensive TV Coverage

When returning home my wife told me Dutch TV had covered the opening with 4 whole minutes which is a lot of free publicity!
The “cameraman” here is not a cameraman, but my Italian friend and fellow Blogger Stefano Pugliese, who rather would be called “Director” and who organized the attendance of several Bloggers at the opening, among which: Hotel Chatter, Howard Greenstein and two of the grayest, err sorry Karen – I’m not a Grey Travel Blogger, Happy Hotelier! (lol) , Independently Minded Travel Bloggers :

Two of the grayest Travel Bloggers
Karen Bryan (R) of Europe A La Carte and Wandalust
and
Happy Hotelier (L)

Here is a good TV impression of the whole on: Bright TV and here is another link on Tech Digest and here is the Youtube Version of the Tech Digest Video:

Of course the WiWiH crew was there as well:

The WiWiH crew
The WiWiH crew

The Lobby
The lobby gives a feeling of your own living room and is filled with retro design furniture due to a collaboration with Vitra. Here is a picture of the check in screens.

CitizenM Check In Screens

Very cleverly your room number is not shown on the screen at checking in, because everyone could look over your shoulder, you get your room number and password for the WiFi printed on a decent paper slip. Don’t forget to take it with you from the printer though otherwise you might find someone else in your room, or worse, someone else taking advantage of things you have paid for.

You are requested to take the electronic key card and use it with your next check in. You can use it as luggage tag and in case you lose your luggage which is not uncommon with the present status of service from the airlines, and if, for security reasons you don’t want to label your luggage with your home address because you are afraid of unwelcome visitors during you stay abroad, you have a chance of reclaiming it through CitizenM. They know how to reach you…..

Last update July 3, 2008