Premier Inn unveils no frills £19-a-night pod rooms

Premier Inn is to launch a new no-frills hotel chain with pod-style rooms that will be less than half the normal size.

"It's clear through the research that people want the basics done brilliantly, such as a comfy bed and a power shower, but they are happy to compromise on location or some extras if they are paying a fantastic price for their room".

PriestmanGoode, which designs first class plane cabins, designed the rooms.

Customers get an 8.5 sqm room, with a single bed which can be converted into a double by sliding across a couch from the other side of the room, or used as twins.

The rooms are to be based on the outskirts of major towns and cities.

It has secured a second location in Southampton that will have 140 rooms and is searching for more sites. "We have invested in the Premier Inn brand over many years to become the UK's most-loved hotel company with 800 hotels in the United Kingdom, and we believe there is a niche in an under-served market for ZIP", said Alison Brittain, CEO, Whitbread PLC.

Richard Clarke, an analyst at Bernstein, floated the idea that Zip might be the starting point for pushing the Premier Inn brand upmarket.

He added that the main chain already has 800 hotels with about 80,000 rooms and would soon account for one in every eight hotel stays in the United Kingdom, suggesting that segment of the market was close to saturation.

'In developing the concept, we have undertaken considerable research, including having had six Zip rooms on sale to customers for many months.

The company has almost 800 Premier Inn hotels, including some in Germany. The average price of a standard Premier Inn room is £57.

Whitbread will unveil a new "no-frills" version of its Premier Inn brand today as it seeks to boost its hotel business after it sells Costa Coffee.

Capsule, or pod, hotels with rooms barely larger than a single bed first emerged in Japan and were popular with "salarymen" who missed their last train home after one too many drinks.

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