Is Ikea a home away from home?
Only time will tell if Ikea can transform the budget hotel landscape as successfully as it did the budget furniture market. (Markus Schreiber/AP)
First, Ikea transformed apartments around the world with its stylish and affordable furniture. Now the Swedish furniture giant wants to design your home away from home.
Ikea’s parent company, Inter Ikea Group, is teaming up with Marriott International to develop Moxy, a new chain of stylish budget hotels for the European market.
Their plan is to open 150 hotels in 10 countries over the next 10 years – including Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and of course, Sweden – starting with a debut in Milan in early 2014.
With rooms starting at around 60 euros a night, Moxy is clearly aiming for much the same audience as Ikea. But don’t expect to stow your belongings in Expedit cubbies before drifting off to sleep on a Sultan mattress. Moxy won’t use Ikea furniture. Nor will the hotels be cavernous warehouse spaces decorated in bold blue-and-yellow colour schemes. Guestrooms in the 150- to 300-room hotels will feature large flat-screen TVs, wall socket USB ports and free wi-fi, designed in a colour palette of calming neutral tones instead.
Moxy’s decision to forgo Ikea’s furniture and colour scheme raises the question: is the Ikea association a double-edged sword? For some travellers, an Ikea-inspired hotel sounds like a stylish, affordable option. But others might be haunted by one too many experiences with 13-page instruction manuals, dozens of oddly-named screws and mammoth assembly sessions (not to mention horsemeat-tainted Swedish meatballs and contaminated almond cakes).
However, Moxy looks to be entering the hotel market smartly and strategically. For starters, it isn’t targeting all travellers – just younger, budget-conscious ones who appreciate technology and design. And in so doing, it’s actually filling a void in the market.
Though Europe is rife with budget hotels and hostels, the vast majority are known more for their sober, no-frills approach than their style quotient. It appears that Moxy plans to bridge that gap, bringing affordability and style to a design-savvy continent ravaged by austerity measures. It’s also targeting clever locations around office parks, airports, and bus and train stations, ideal spots to snag budget-minded business travellers and backpackers alike.