Lonely Planet Writer

A capsule hotel has just opened in Sydney and it's pretty cool

They’ve been a staple of Japanese travel for several years, but now Australia has just acquired its first capsule accommodation hotel. The newly-opened Capsule Hotel is located above the Century Bar, and its pods are perfect for those seeking affordable, high-quality accommodation in Sydney.

Sydney's Century Bar
Sydney’s Century Bar Image by ANDREW WORSSAM PHOTOGRAPHY

Situated in a refurbished heritage building that has retained its vintage fit-out and has a “Soho House vibe,” the bar and hotel run as separate entities. The first two levels are the Century’s cocktail bar and nightclub, while the top three floors of the building are dedicated to the Capsule Hotel. There are 72 capsules spread across six rooms, ranging in size from six to 17 beds per room.

The project began in September 2015, and it took seven months for the actual build. According to Christopher Wilks, associate at Giant Design Consultants who were behind the makeover, designing the capsules was relatively easy in comparison to the challenge of meeting the requirements of the local authorities.

“Being the first of its kind in Australia, no one was quire sure how to categorise the offer,” he says. “The capsules were certainly not a hotel room, but nor are they bunk beds in a dorm, so it took quite a bit of massaging to end up with a hybrid of rules and regulations that we needed to comply with. Add to that the heritage requirements of the building and the whole process of approval stretched out to just under 12 months.”

Each guest has a secure locker for their luggage outside the capsule, and has access to shared but private unisex bathroom facilities. There is a comfortable breakout and dining space, with self-cook kitchen facilities, an outdoor terrace and a library.

The pods in Sydney's Capsule Hotel.
The pods in Sydney’s Capsule Hotel. Image by ANDREW WORSSAM PHOTOGRAPHY

“The capsules really are something,” says Chris. “They are packed with features and technology, with each having a universal power outlet, USB ports, a TV screen, dimmable LED mood lighting, a secure safe, a mirror, air conditioning and a latex mattress. They were customised for us by the supplier to suit our concept and the Australian market, with a slightly longer mattress, softer lighting, a range of access and size options and a Gatsby-esque exterior. Once the door closes, it’s very like being inside a meditation pod.”

Chris says that the company researched the interiors of the interwar Art Deco period from which the building comes, and created a vintage feel that is also contemporary. They are ecstatic with the outcome, as it manages to meet the right balance between boutique hotel and hostel, feeling at once contemporary but proudly showing off its heritage.

“The dominating feature on every floor plate is the central circular stair, so the use of curves, especially in the reception and breakout space, was used to emphasise and support that,” he explains. “In the bedrooms we wanted to create a tranquil environment that would allow guests to completely escape the buzz of the hotel’s city central location, so the palette makes use of muted colours, soft grey felts and ethereal indirect lighting highlighting the ceiling coffers.”

If you fancy being tucked up like a pea in a very glam pod, it cost $50 per capsule and $65 for a double one. Further information is available here.