I have to preface this article with an apology for the bad quality of the photos. After an overnight flight they looked in focus to me! ACK!
I had a weekend business trip to Europe which meant an overnight flight and then straight to a trade show, which doesn’t leave me feeling very productive. I decided to try something a little bit different. I booked a flight that arrived in Amsterdam at 6 AM and then booked a 4 hour block in the Yotel in the Schiphol terminal to try to get my act together and my wits about me.
If you are not familiar with the concept of the Yotel, picture a small hotel room with just enough space for a bed and lavatory that they rent on an hourly basis, with a 4 hour minimum. If you have ever been on a cruise ship, you have a good idea of the size and scale of the rooms.
They have airport locations in Amsterdam’s Schiphol and London’s Heathrow and Gatwick as well as a new location in Times Square in NYC.
The front of the Yotel (shown in the picture at the top of the article) has a Star Trek throwback vibe with purple obviously being the theme color of the company. The Yotel is INSIDE of security so if you are trying to pull off this same trick you need to not have any checked luggage as you will not be able to get back in to the secured area unless you have a flight in less than 24 hours. I generally carry on all my luggage so this was not a problem but it is strange to do this before you have even cleared passport control coming off an international flight! If you are arriving the night before for an early flight, they will let you though security if you show a boarding pass within 24 hours and your Yotel reservation.
I had pre-booked my room on the internet and expected to cruise up, enter my codes and slide into a little bit of soporific bliss. This idea was derailed when I arrived as the check-in kiosks were down for the count.
I spoke to the woman at the front desk and since I was about 25 minutes early for my check in time she asked if I could come back in about 15 minutes but did send me away with a very good cup of coffee. Probably a bad idea since I wanted sleep and not caffeine, but I am loathe to turn down free coffee!
I came back in 15 minutes to a line of people backed up and asking for rooms. There were two people working the front with one operating the check in procedures and one standing out front running interference. The check in process was slow and had a rambling feel of disorganization. The check in person seemed a bit confused and the woman running the show apologized for her colleague and assured us that she was working as quickly as she could.
She checked the gentleman standing in front of me in line and I at the same time. When she gave us each our keys the man in front of me began to explain that he had booked two rooms not one at some length. I took that opportunity to slide through the doors in an attempt find my bed.
The inside of the Yotel bears and even more striking resemblance to a cruise ship with tight, dimly lit corridors. The signage is not perfect and I wondered around a bit before finding the corridor to my room.
My room was at the very end of a corridor and I had a moment of panic as I swiped my key several time and nothing happened but it finally clicked open after a fourth try.
The room is tight and after trying to come up with something to give you an idea of the scale I finally took this picture.
I am standing in the open area in the middle of the cabin and my elbows are resting on the wall above the bunk and the glass wall of the shower on the other side. They have done lots of clever things to maximize the space that you have, but if you are claustrophobic you should be pre-warned.
The room I was in is referred to as a Standard Room and it featured the bath facilities on the right and the bunk on the left. The middle area had a fold up desk with a mirror behind it that also featured outlets for AC in multiple different flavors from US 110 to Euro and English plugs.
WiFi is included with the room and it was a reasonable speed with downloads averaging about 700 kbps and uploads in the 2 Meg range. Not staggering, but generally acceptable for most applications.
There was sort of a camp chair folded up and clipped onto the door that you could set up in front of the desk. It did not have a back, so I would not want to do extensive work here. Of course, that is not really the idea at the Yotel.
Turning slightly to the left you can see the inset bunk area. These are interlocked between the rooms so the cabin next to mine would have the bunk in the space directly above mine. The bed was firm but comfy with high quality linens and an extra pillow tucked on top of the shelf in the main area. These are Euro style pillows and a combination duvet/sheet set.
The TV is actually tucked in the bunk area at the foot of the bed and the controls for the room (lights, temp etc) are all on the headboard so you once you collapse into bed you can do just about everything from there.
The room does get nice and dark making it easy to sleep but the cabin walls are fairly thin so if you are close to the front you will be hearing people tramp back and forth in front of your room. The drain in the shower is also suction based and is interactive with the rest of the plumbing for the 80+ rooms that are in the Yotel. This means that some strange noises are coming from the bath area of your cabin most of the night so I recommend earplugs. They can supply these for you up front in the galley if you left yours at home.
The bathroom is just an arms length from the bunk and is a single area with a small sink, toilet and shower all hiding behind a curtain.
The shower had a glorious rain shower head that was my favorite part of the room. It is amazing how much of an improvement in your attitude a shower can actually make after a night of poor sleep in an airplane! The space is narrow and it is only separated from the rest of the room by a small hump so you will want to get your luggage off the floor before you get in and lather up. A king size turkish bath towel is included in the room but you will need to ask up front for a hand towel or wash cloth should you want one.
Forty five Euros for a four hour stay is not cheap but with a huge convention in Amsterdam there was no way I was going to get into my room early and I think I would have paid that just for the shower.
The Yotel is conveniently situated (look for the McDonalds just up the stairs in the middle of the terminal) and gave me a needed recharge to make it through a full day after a long night on a plane. I wish I had been given the opportunity to go through the automated check in process to see how that works.
On the whole, my experience was very good. I would recommend it, but remember to bring your earplugs!
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