The Pop-Up Hotel Room

The Telegraph: This is a one-off, I must admit, but I thought you might find the concept useful if you plan to become one of the million-plus people who will attend a festival this summer. You've heard of pop-up bars and pop-up restaurants – they are all the rage. Now here's a pop-up hotel room.

Oh yes. A company called All About Space has come up with the idea and has, or is rolling out their podules at festivals across the country, including Glastonbury, T in the Park, Kendal Calling and the British Grand Prix. Their first outing was at the Hay Festival and on behalf of the Telegraph, the festival's sponsors, I went to test one.

Luxury camping in yurts and tepees has been a feature at festivals for years now, but the owners of All About Space saw a real gap in the market for easily erected temporary accommodation with the amenities of a hotel bedroom that a mere tent cannot provide, including thermal and acoustic insulation, heating, air conditioning, plug sockets, flat-screen television, en-suite power shower and loo. Plus coat hangers and shelves, full-length mirror, dual radio and iPod dock, mini fridge and, perhaps most importantly, a decent bed.

"Quite simply the biggest leap forward in festival accommodation since the invention of the tent," claimed the press release, and about its impressive list of facilities it did not lie.

If only the podule's looks and character matched its facilities. Tepees, yurts, gipsy caravans and the like may lack mod cons but they do have charm. A podule, on the other hand, does not.

As I drove towards Hay through lovely lush countryside full of meadows and abrupt little hills I fondly imagined my pop-up haven, having been promised all the allure of a "boutique" hotel bedroom. In the event, I found a field belonging to an amusingly quirky and old-fashioned hotel, Baskerville Hall, two miles from Hay, and in the field I found a semicircle of Portaloos – sorry, podules – looking, well, awfully like the former, and rather forlorn.

They have all the allure of a metal container, which is what they are: 129 square feet of compact oblong metal box, raised off the ground for extra protection from the elements. If you've stayed in a Japanese pod hotel, or Yotel at Gatwick or Heathrow, you'll know the score and you'll know just how much can be fitted in.

There's even a table and chairs in the space between the door and the bed, with a kettle and tea things. There is no window as such, but you can see out through a glass panel beside the front door.

At the rear of the cabin is the tiny – and I mean tiny – shower and lavatory area. But the water was piping hot and the pressure high. Sheets and towels were excellent, the four-foot bed comfortable. There was no signal for the television above the bed, but that was hardly a problem: a television at a festival feels rather decadent.

As for my time in the podule, I emerged clean, tidy, washed and rested, if not enamoured of the experience.
But it was certainly the last word in metal containers.

How it rates

ROOMS (out of five) TTTT
Much warmer, drier and better equipped than a tent

You get the hotel bedroom but not the hotel service

It's a metal container – plenty of facilities, yes; character: non existent

Tea, coffee, biscuits, fresh milk and bottled water provided in mini fridge

Despite facilities, expensive for a box


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