Hotels with a bright future27 April 2021
/ A modular structure and forward thinking allowed citizenM to come out ahead from the pandemic /
“We’d like to say we planned it. But truthfully, we didn’t know we were building a pandemic-proof hotel.” The citizenM hotel chain is proud of their achievement on their website, and rightly so: focusing on tech-savvy solutions, the hotels were ready to go full contactless last year, and they were able to ride out the pandemic almost unscathed. So much so that they opened a new hotel in Geneva in September 2020 and in July of the same year they acquired a building in the center of Rome to create another.
The full contactless solution, also introduced in July 2020, is based on an app for mobile devices: from their own phone guests can now check in, open their room, order food and beverages, control in-room amenities, and finally check out at the end of their stay. But the contactless solution is only the latest piece added to a series of solutions that made it easy for citizenM hotels to offer safe stays even during the pandemic. Guestrooms feature minimal surfaces to clean, and because they are modular and all the same, implementing new hygiene standards consistently was effortless. The ventilation system was also ready for the challenge: each room has always been independently ventilated, with 100% fresh air instead of recirculated air. With all those things already in place, it was easy to implement new hygiene procedures (including opt-in housekeeping service: unless guests choose to have their room cleaned, no one will enter it) and be fully ready to face the new post-pandemic world.
Born during the financial crisis of 2008, citizenM has always been a revolutionary concept: they changed the way hotel spaces were imagined and turned to prefabricated room modules in order to offer “affordable luxury,” i.e. high-end service, prime location, but moderate prices. Their first hotel opened at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, and by now they have more than 20 operational hotels in 8 countries and at least as many in the pipeline. In the case of the Schiphol hotel, the 230 rooms were built and furnished in a factory and then stacked like shipping containers to form the hotel. Each room is extremely pared down, based on the idea that a great bed and a simple and clean bathroom is all we need during a trip, but at the same time the design is focused on a luxury feel: a floor to ceiling, wall to wall window; a huge drawer below the bed to keep your belongings; big glass cylinders to contain the shower and the toilet; RGB LED-strings for mood lighting; a lounge area to watch TV on the flat LCD screen.
While hotels made of containers are not an exclusive of citizenM, they…
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