The Pop Up Hotel
Sleeping 2012 style
Whether it’s a tightening of purse strings, a perceived impishness with prices by hoteliers (especially at any properties within a sneeze of next summer’s Olympics when prices are reported to be set to increase fivefold) or a growing desire for an overnight stay that offers an experience unique to each visitor, there’s a clutch of new and creatively authentic accommodation offerings that are doing roaring business.
On the HouseTrip website, you can search and book one of 55,000 properties that are available to rent all over the world.
For me, the secret pleasure of staying in somebody’s home is that you get to try on their life for a while
and HouseTrip’s Ryan Levitt agrees “Guests get their own place for less than the price of a tiny, impractical hotel room, whilst having the ability to cook and eat in when it suits them. They also experience a city like the locals do, with an authentic, immersive experience that’s miles away from traditional, cookie cutter travel."
Depending on your taste and budget, you can flick through art manuscripts at a super swanky three bedroom Victoria apartment, have a Paul Bowles moment and rent a riad deep in a Moroccan kasbah or take over an entire houseboat in Amsterdam. It’s a great way to feel instantly part of a city (surely half of the delight of London is cooking up deliciousness from the capital’s markets). The short term rental market isn’t new but HouseTrip have invested in technology that makes the booking process sleek and safe - there’s a “guest only” review system, any complaints and questions are dealt with by the HouseTrip call centre and payment is withheld from the property owner until the second night of your stay.
Looking towards the Olympics, a HouseTrip search for the weekend of 4th August 2012 provided options that ranged from an apartment that sleeps four overlooking the stadium (£3,290 for two nights) to an apartment in NW3 that sleeps three (£176 for two nights).
The rise of campinmygarden.com has been stellar and the site was identified as a key trend in this year’s World Travel Market Global Trends Report. The website – a community where garden owners can advertise their gardens to would be campers as an alternative to formal campsites – seems to have captured a new national “simple pleasures” mood. Founder, Victoria Webbon, explained that the idea for the site came from her “...love of camping and the fact that I have always had to live life on a budget (which) led me to the idea of garden camping. It just seemed very logical to me that we could share our gardens with other people to create many new and interesting travel options”.
Similar to HouseTrip, campinmygarden.com utilises an “eBay style” review system for the over three hundred gardens that are now on the site. There are options from bamping (basic camping) to glamping and gardens as far afield as New Zealand. Users can drill down on gardens that are close to popular events and, as for the big sports event of 2012, Victoria predicts that the site “will come in to its own during the Olympics. There is the potential for garden owners to make a reasonable sum of money from renting out their gardens and there have already been quite a few confirmed bookings. With limited traditional accommodation available and high prices, it is already evident that people are looking for alternative places to stay.”
For the Olympics, a garden within walking distance of the stadium is advertising rates on campinmygarden.com from £27 per person per night.
At the sheer luxury end of canvas sleeping, The Pop Up Hotel launched early this year providing accommodation at events and retreats in tents that have an Out of Africa safari glamour to them. Pop Up Hotel’s Mark Sorrill explained that now “guests are looking for much more” than a standard hotel experience can provide. The hotel popped up at Glastonbury and, later on in the season, at Rock in Cornwall and the temporary nature of each appearance means that the structures can be adjusted to fit the profile of clients.
The tents undoubtedly create a romance and Mark’s aim is to “give really good quality” as well as an outdoor accommodation option that is environmentally balanced: “the transient nature does mean that we are burning fuel but the sites have a minimum of fifty weeks fallow”. When The Pop Up Hotel returns next year, the opulent sleeping, bathroom and dining tents will be heading to the Henley Regatta at a great location that is “fifty metres from Temple Island”. The offering for the Olympics is still being considered - Weymouth for the sailing may be a more suitable location to pop up in than urban Hackney.