The company behind the Yo! Sushi brand has unveiled a prototype of its new "cabin" hotels at Heathrow and Gatwick where weary travellers have the option of hiring a room for four-hour stretches.
Yotel hopes its tiny rooms, measuring 10 square metres, will appeal to delayed and transfer passengers as well as those needing an overnight stay before an early check-in or arriving on red-eye flights.
Due to open in summer 2006, the cabins will have a rotating double bed, en suite bathroom with monsoon showerhead, free broadband internet access (wired and wifi), satellite TV and movie channels, and an iPod plug-in point. The cabins have been designed by Priestman Goode, which has worked on the new Airbus A380.
Travellers will be able to book through www.yotel.com and can opt for four hours at £40 or overnight for £80. Yotel also plans to incorporate an even smaller "economy" option, which will cost £40 for an overnight stay or £25 for four hours.
Simon Woodroffe, founder of Yo!, says the aim is to provide the luxurious touches of five-star hotels but at an affordable price and convenient location: "People want to find ways to get the same luxury but for less cost."
Rooms will have a monitor displaying flight details, but Woodroffe says soundproofing will ensure that airport announcements don't penetrate the walls. There will be no minibar or room service, and checking in and out will be done automatically, with staff on hand to help things run smoothly.
The company plans to build 50 cabins at Gatwick's South Terminal and 40 at Heathrow Terminal 4 on the level between the arrivals and departures areas.
Yotel's rates are substantially lower than the nearest hotel competitor to Terminal 4 (Hilton). Five-star hotels on the Bath Road offer rates closer to those of Yotel, but they are more difficult to access for T4 passengers.
Report by Sarah Maxwell