Zurich is an expensive city, where plush hotels that normally charge an arm and a leg cost not less than an extra limb. But who needs plush when you could have no body parts to spare and, like me, you are only passing through?
I opted for a budget ‘capsule’ hotel, just a few steps away from the Swiss city’s glorious Grossmunster church and its famous Chagall windows.
The Green Marmot capsule hotel has won awards for its cosy cubby holes. Produced from light birchwood, each capsule incorporates a fold-out picket table, a circular mirror and a plug point. There’s also a duvet and sheets made from organic Egyptian cotton above a thick mattress.
Carlton Reid checked into The Green Marmot capsule hotel in Zurich, together with his room (above left) costing just £43.72 for the night
The capsules are stacked two high. Carlton observes: ‘The packaging of sardines springs to mind’
Carlton enjoyed a ‘cramped, but nevertheless comfortable’ night’s sleep in his ‘cubby hole’, pictured left. ‘It is not for the claustrophobic or the shy – your privacy is protected merely with an itsy-bitsy curtain (right), open at the highest,’ he reveals
Pictured left are Carlton’s belongings hanging in his cubby hole. ‘Each individual capsule is air-conditioned – you possibly can feel the cold air pumped through gaps,’ he says. Right is the flat-pack table in Carlton’s space that he used for some laptop work
It is a bed with a low roof. You may sit within the space, hunched over, but not stand.
It is not for the claustrophobic or the shy — your privacy is protected merely with an itsy-bitsy curtain, open at the highest.
The capsules are stacked two high (I used to be allotted the upper space) and fill one in all several rooms. An architectural drawing framed on a wall shows one room to accommodate 36 people. The packaging of sardines springs to mind. But it surely only cost me £43.72 for an evening. This comes right down to £41 in case you book far enough ahead.
A single bed space. Carlton explains: ‘It is a bed with a low roof. You may sit within the space, hunched over, but not stand’
There are double-bed spaces available (above), but Carlton suggests all of the capsules best suit singles
The hotel’s website shows joyful families sharing a lot of capsules but that is clearly impractical because, paying per head, it might be far cheaper — and safer — for a family to remain in a regular twin hotel room.
There are some double bed spaces available, however the capsules best suit singles.
Toilets and showers are communal. This shared aspect of the hotel means, in point of fact, it is a hostel but in most hostels you see your fellow travellers while they sleep, and in-room facilities, akin to plug points, also are likely to be communal. Within the Green Marmot capsule hotel you are in your individual burrow, like a marmot, and only catch sight of others once they select to indicate themselves, also like a marmot.
Although the hotel says it offers single-sex rooms, the room I slept in was mixed, with each men and girls within the cubby holes. This wasn’t an issue for me but there have been no locks or blocks: the skimpy curtain is the one guarantee of privacy, and anybody could pull it back should they be so minded, or as I did, they mistake the space for a luggage compartment. (Thankfully, there was nobody burrowed on the time.)
The Green Marmot capsule hotel has won awards for its cosy, light birchwood cubby holes, Carlton reveals
Carlton reveals that every capsule is insulated from the opposite with sound-proofing foam
‘I used to be snug, and with power and Wi-Fi, perfectly content in my weeny space,’ writes Carlton
A wheelchair-accessible bunk space. ‘Within the Green Marmot capsule hotel you are in your individual burrow, like a marmot, and only catch sight of others once they select to indicate themselves, also like a marmot,’ writes Carlton
The receptionist offered Carlton free earplugs (pictured left) on arrival on the hotel. Toilets – akin to the men-only one pictured on the precise – and showers are communal, Carlton reveals
Free towels within the men-only shower and bathroom room
I must have known this wasn’t where extra bags can be stored because I’d already placed my valuables within the hotel’s excellent lockers. I used to be travelling with a Tern folding bike and I used to be delighted to find it fitted perfectly within the locker. Nonetheless, I then had no other space for my other bags, so — after my aborted attempt to seek out a house for them — I hung them from two of the three picket coat hooks within the capsule.
The lockers open and lock with the digital touch of a card, and this worked flawlessly, including at 4.30am once I crept from the hotel for my early train. An expensive hotel room would have been a waste once I was spending such little time in bed, and would not be around for breakfast.
The Green Marmot capsule hotel has vending machines for snacks and hot drinks but there isn’t any other food, and no catering facilities for whipping up your individual. As a substitute, there are cafes and restaurants on the hotel’s doorstep.
A tea and occasional station on the hotel. ‘An expensive hotel room would have been a waste once I was spending such little time in bed, and would not be around for breakfast,’ Carlton explains
Carlton was delighted to find that his folding bike (pictured left) ‘fitted perfectly’ within the locker on the hotel. The Green Marmot capsule hotel has vending machines (pictured right) for snacks and drinks but there isn’t any other food
Wi-Fi is powerful and free, and I’ve stayed in ultra-chic hotels where neither has been the case. Each individual capsule is air-conditioned — you possibly can feel the cold air pumped through gaps — and there have been not one of the ripe smells common to communal living spaces.
What was the night like? Cramped, but nevertheless comfortable, and my fellow guests didn’t treat the ‘hotel’ like a backpacker’s hostel. They were quiet, respectful (couples in doubles whispered) and I didn’t need the free earplugs the receptionist offered on arrival. Each capsule is insulated from the opposite with sound-proofing foam.
I used to be snug, and with power and Wi-Fi, perfectly content in my weeny space. I folded out the flatpack table, worked on my laptop, charged my electricals and caught up with home (by email, it might have felt odd to perform a video conversation.)
From the hotel, it takes just seconds to achieve the promenade of the Limmat river (pictured) and its medieval buildings, or the riverside tram
The hotel lies just a few steps away from the fantastic Grossmunster church (pictured) and its famous Chagall windows
Pioneered in Japan within the late Nineteen Seventies, capsule hotels can now be present in many cities – and airports – all over the world. Green Marmot capsule hotel opened in 2020 and bills itself as green due to its use of eco-materials and the urbanist repurposing of some previously run-down space. The image on the precise shows the pedestrianised area on the front of the hotel. There are cafes and restaurants nearby
The Green Marmot’s location, meanwhile – within the centre of the old town – is healthier than most of the city’s upscale hotels, and it takes just seconds to achieve the promenade of the Limmat river and its medieval buildings, or the riverside tram. Lake Zurich is a brisk walk away.
Pioneered in Japan within the late Nineteen Seventies, capsule hotels can now be present in many cities – and airports – all over the world. I’ve slept in an airport one, much of which was posh plastic but still as cramped as this picket city centre one.
Green Marmot capsule hotel opened in 2020 and bills itself as green due to its use of eco-materials and the urbanist repurposing of some previously run-down space — the constructing looked like an office in a previous life.
It’s an option, then, for the eco-conscious in addition to the budget-conscious.
Pros: Undeniably excellent value for money in a city not awash with bargains. The situation – if you must be within the old town, that’s – is ideal. For a one-night stay for one person it’s really hard to beat, and more cities must have such clean but budget-conscious capsule hotels. Ideal for digital nomads who only look after recharging points and powerful Wi-Fi.
Cons: Not for the faint-hearted and definitely not for anybody wary of confined spaces.
The Green Marmot hotel, designed by Florian Berner of Weyell Berner architecture firm of Zurich, is situated at 26 Schifflande, Zurich Old Town. It won the SIT Furniture Design Award and the A’Design Award, each in 2021. The hotel offers each single and double bed capsules. The singles measure 212cm (83in) x 111cm (44in) x 109cm (43in) (length/width/height) and the doubles 212cm (83in) x 179cm (70in) x 109cm (43in).
For more information visit greenmarmot.com.
Carlton Reid travelled to Switzerland with an Interrail pass. The long-lasting pass celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this yr. Launched in March 1972, the Interrail pass was originally for young travellers only, enabling those of as much as 21 years of age to explore 21 countries by train with only one rail pass. Since 1998 the Interrail pass has been available for travellers of all ages. Greater than 10million travellers have enjoyed ‘interrailing’ across Europe. For more information, visit www.eurail.com/en.