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“Live large but sleep small” might as well be the motto of travellers choosing to stay in the latest crop of super-shrunk hotel rooms popping up across the world.

Rather than spend a lot of money on a sprawling temporary living space, travellers are bunking down in rooms that measure from just two to 10sqm. 

Popularized in Japan, capsule hotels were first built in 1979 to accommodate Japanese businessmen who needed to stay close to the city centre for a few days or who could not catch the last train to their suburban homes. Some would even stay the entire workweek to avoid the long commute.  Barely big enough to lie down, the two-metre long space included sparse amenities like a television and a radio, along with a common restroom and socializing areas. 

While you can still catch a nap in one of Japan’s nearly 300 capsule hotels, many of today’s micro-hotel options are a little roomier, offer as much character as their larger counterparts, and some even include private attached bathrooms.  Here are a few hotels that deliver small in style.

For couples who want to be closer
Eh’häusl; Amberg, Germany; average room size 53sqm
The “smallest hotel in the world”, according to its owners, is spread out over seven storeys and measures just two-and-a-half metres across -- the entire building (which includes a private bathroom, bedroom and a sitting room) can only be rented by two people. Eh’häusel , which means wedding house, was constructed in 1728 in response to a local law that required couples to own property together before they were married. One clever man put up a roof between two existing houses to satisfy the law, then immediately sold it to another couple who repeated the process. Even after the tradition ceased, the building stood strong and was renovated in 2008 as a romantic retreat. Locals still claim couples who stay overnight will have lifelong happiness.

Titanic history in a tiny package
The Jane; New York City; average room size 50sqft
While Japan often gets credit for creating this small-space trend, The Jane in New York City started renting its ship cabin-like rooms to sailors as early as 1908. In 1912, survivors of the Titanic disaster stayed in the hotel, and a memorial service was held for the victims a few days later. The Jane was renovated in 2008 but maintains its turn-of-the-century charm. Suited for young solo travellers who want to stay in New York City on the cheap, the standard cabin sleeps one and shares a communal hall bathroom. Friends can pair up in the equally cosy bunk bed rooms, but couples might want to consider the Captain’s cabin, which is a roomier 250sqft and includes a private bathroom.

Easy airport accommodation
Yotel; London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol airports; average room size seven square metres
Started by the same team that turned YO! Sushi into an international brand, Yotel packs a lot of perks in its tight quarters. Even the standard-size rooms include a toilet, shower, desk  and free wi-fi.  For those who prefer sleep to sightseeing during an extended layover, weary airline travellers can book by the hour (with a minimum four-hour stay).

 

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