Pop-Up Hotels Rooms with a fleeting view

Written by New York Times | Updated: Mar 31 2013, 08:50am hrs
Stephanie Rosenbloom

Pop-up stores. Pop-up restaurants. Pop-up lounges. Shouldnt this fascination with pop-upswhich are by definition ephemeralhave disappeared already

Hotels offer compelling reasons for the trend to endure. Unlike temporary stores and lounges designed to hawk clothes and cocktails, temporary hotels allow travellers to sleep in unique spaces (boats, tricked-out shipping containers) and forbidden places (public parks, racetracks). The hotels also enable festivalgoers around the world to upgrade from sleeping bags and tents to rooms with beds, rain showers and iPod docking stations.

Just how fleeting these temporary hotels are varies. Many last for no more than a few days in a particular location; others last for months.

Below is a guide to some of the pop-up genres most popular hotel brands along with their coordinates so you can check in before they check out.

A Room for London

This one-bedroom hotel (talk about exclusive) is actually a boat balanced atop the roof of Southbank Centre, the London art complex on the bank of the Thames. Inspired by the boat that the author Joseph Conrad navigated up the River Congo in the 19th century before writing Heart of Darkness, it has decks that offer views of London icons like Big Ben and St Pauls Cathedral. For a shot at staying there (300, or about $440 at $1.47 to the pound, a night for one or two adults), you must participate in a lottery. A collaboration between Living Architecture (which rents out eye-popping houses throughout Britain that are designed by modern architects) and Artangel (which commissions projects by contemporary artists), the hotel will be open through the end of the year. To book a stay in June, July or August, enter the next lottery from April 17 through 24. Winners will be selected randomly. Other available dates in 2013 will be released in future ballots. For e-mail updates about availability, sign up for Living Architectures newsletter. Information: aroomforlondon.co.uk.

PopUp Ashram

Awaken the guru inside you, says the web site of this temporary hotel-cum-yoga-and-spiritual retreat founded in Tulum, Mexico, by Michael Liss, who worked for the adventure-travel company Butterfield & Robinson before creating PopUp Ashram and partnering with Design Hotels. A Design Hotels spokeswoman said in an e-mail that the company hopes to collaborate on new PopUp Ashrams but that it has yet to confirm the next one. Liss said in an e-mail that there will be one in Bali from July 1 through 8, in conjunction with Alila Ubud, part of Design Hotels. He also said that a big Design Hotels PopUp is in the works but that he could not yet discuss it. Perhaps his Web site offers a clue It says PopUp Ashram is coming to Italy. Information: popupashram.com.

Sleeping Around

The guest rooms (there are only four) of this Antwerp, Belgium, hotel (through May) are inside 20-foot recycled sea containers. Each has a bed, a bathroom with a rain shower and an iPod docking station. Dont let the sea container part fool youthese minimalist rooms are nicer than some New York City apartments. And theres a communal breakfast lounge container and a sauna container (in the process of being completed), to boot. Information: sleepingaround.eu.


Each of these air-conditioned hotel rooms (a k a shipping containers) has a bed, a flat-screen television, a safe, a shower, a basin, a toilet and free Wi-Fi. Snoozebox was in London during the summer Olympics and plans to be at other popular events and festivals this spring and summer. They include the Fdration Internationale de lAutomobiles World Endurance Championship, the April auto race in Silverstone, England (rooms from 129 a night, including a continental breakfast); the Open Championshipthe British golf majorin Muirfield, Scotland, in July (from 99 a night); and the Edinburgh Festival, the arts celebration founded in 1947, in August (prices to be determined). A complete list of coming locations is online. Information: snoozebox.com.

The Pop-Up Hotel

This British brand combines two trends in onetemporary hotels and glamping (high-end camping)with luxury bell and safari tents that include duvets, showers and a makeup parlor. While permanent-hotel chains aim for a certain level of predictability, the Pop-Up Hotel strives to make each experience different. For instance, in May, the hotel will be at the Tour of Wessex, the cycling competition in Somerset, enabling guests to sleep in a field near the start/finish line (theres even a porter to help you with your luggage). In June, the hotel will be at the Glastonbury Festival in Somerset (where there will also be a pop-up restaurant and bar). And in September, the hotel will be at the Goodwood Revival in West Sussex, a gathering of the sorts of historic cars and motorcycles that would have competed at the Goodwood Motor Circuit in its heyday, between 1948 and 1966. In an experience that is literally a car lovers dream, guests sleep next to the vintage and classic models on display. The company is scouting potential locations outside Britain, like the Caribbean and Australia, for the off-peak months. Information: thepopuphotel.com.

Other Options

Travellers who want to sleep in something other than a tent at international festivals have a number of options nowadays, which can be reserved through the festival organisers. Take for example Podpads, which look like childrens playhouses (or homes for Hobbits), with colorful walls and windows in shapes like hearts or clovers. A solar panel on a big yellow sunflower attached to each house provides low voltage power. There are also different styles of pads for differing budgets and numbers of guests, like bunkpads (which offer more floor space and have a higher roof) and unidomepads (a cross between circus tents and yurts, with a clear acrylic top from which to stargaze). Several other companies, like Yurts and Squrts and Hearthworks, offer upscale accommodations that include tipis, cloud yurts and squrtsmini-yurts that look like Smurf mushroom houses.