Yo: Yotel Opens in NYC

Posted on June 29, 2011

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Chainmail curtain and “Tetris-style” seating in Yotel lobby

Yo: Yotel Opens in NYC
by AnneLise Sorensen

It’s an airplane, it’s a cruise ship, it’s a hotel! The new Yotel landed last week in New York City near Times Square.

Yotel was inspired by the capsule hotels of Japan – and by airplanes. The rooms are called cabins; the front desk is Mission Control; check-in and check-out is done at computerized kiosks; and its most famous resident is a robot named Yobot.

Meet Yobot

Yotel is also the largest hotel to open in New York City in 2011, weighing in at an impressive 669 rooms. As for the rates? The introductory price is a nice $149.

I recently interviewed Yotel co-founder Gerard Greene for my Backyard Travel show on NBC Nonstop TV – stay tuned for the air dates – and I was given a top-to-bottom tour of the hotel.

Here are a few snippets from our discussion:

ALS: The hotel has 669 rooms. Not 670. 669.
Greene laughs immediately. Not only does it have a 669 rooms, he says, but revolving beds.

ALS: How very convenient. Now, what’s the one thing we’re all fighting for in New York City? Space! Yotel has really revolutionized the concept of space.
Greene said that Yotel used aircraft designers to design the ergonomic rooms, which offer all the upscale amenities that travelers have come to expect, but in a small space, so that it’s still affordable. There are moving folding beds, “techno walls” with flatscreen TVs and plugs, and the beds are designed so that you can slide your luggage underneath.

A Yotel bed, which mechanically “folds” into the wall by pushing a button

ALS: My favorite individual I met today (besides you, of course) is the oddly mesmerizing Yobot, the robot in the lobby who, with the push of a few buttons, will take your luggage and store it in bar-coded lockers.
Greene explains that Yobot is another example of Yotel’s commitment to progress, and to offering travelers the latest in technology. Similarly, Yotel features check-in and check-out kiosks, just like the airlines are doing, because it saves guests a lot of time.

ALS: As a writer covering food and travel around the globe, I’ve stayed in hundreds of hotels, and tested more mattress springs – and minibars – than is perhaps healthy for one person. And, one of the most contentious topics among travel writers and guests is having to pay for WiFi. Here at Yotel, I’m delighted to say, it’s free.
Greene says that yes, WiFi is free throughout the hotel, and has been since opening. He adds that asking guests to pay for WiFi seems a bit like those expensive hotel phone charges of the past. Eventually, WiFi will probably be complimentary at all hotels, and Yotel decided to start now.

ALS: Yotel is dripping with superlatives, but this may be one of the best: It has the “largest outdoor hotel terrace” in New York City.
Greene: What are we waiting for – it’s cocktail hour, isn’t it?

Why yes, it is. I end the night at a Yotel party, sipping potent ginger-mango martinis at the bar. The joke of the night?  Maybe the Yobot will join us when his shift ends. Yo.

Yotel, 570 Tenth Ave., at 42nd St., yotel.com.

My review originally featured on MSN (Microsoft Network).

Yotel has the largest hotel terrace in NYC

Ergonomic (and astoundingly comfortable) chairs on the Yotel terrace. (The only downside? Trying to get up gracefully after a couple of cocktails.)

Yotel could have been designed by The Jetsons: witness the carpeting

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