Techno Comfort

November, 2011


Manhattan's vibrant theatre district recently opened its arms to Yotel  a tech savvy, bright and funky hotel designed by David Rockwell in collaboration with UK based Softroom, where suite beds rotate to offer panoramic views, kitchen tables transform into a pool table, and a luggage robot assists in handling luggage.

European luxury has now migrated to the US with a revolutionary hospitality concept Yotel. This 'first class' hotel, originally developed by Yotel CEO Gerard Greene and Yo! founder Simon Woodruffe, is inspired from Japanese capsule hotels and the luxury airline experience.

Setting foot on Manhattan soil, Yotel approached renowned New York-based designer David Rockwell, Founder and CEO, Rockwell Group to build the 669 key hotel on 42nd Street in colla­boration with UK based design firm Softroom. The brief was to transfer the effici­ency, flexibility and forward-thinking techno-logy of the brand's London and Amsterdam airport properties into a hip, affordable urban hotel.

Walking in
Covered in its trademark colours purples, blues, beiges and greens Yotel's ethos is swathed in contemporary, luxurious, efficient and small scale concepts. A dimensional pre cast concrete surfacing, lit with LEDs on the façade based on the Yotel lozenge logo, transforms the exterior of the building into a beacon for the hotel.

A portal made of backlit laminated frosted glass defines an elegant entrance into Yotel. This leads to a futuristic lobby, with a warm bamboo canopy covering the robotic baggage drop off and electronic check-in kiosks.The unique luggage robot is central to this space. "The robot is a theatrically lit machine whose inner workings are exposed to create a mech­anical performance for the guests as it loads and stores their belongings," informs Rockwell.

Intimate spaces
Moving upwards, Mission Control on the fourth floor houses all the indoor and outdoor public amenities. A host of cutting edge features add convenience and novelty to the customer experience here: additional concierge assistance, touch screen monitors for infor­mation about shows or restaurants, a retail component and computer terminals. This floor also has a Residents' Lounge and a deluxe Business Club Lounge with a bar and private cabins for meetings or parties, housing giant flat screen televisions and plush leather banquettes.

The lush 20,000 sq ft outdoor terrace lounge of Yotel, the largest in Manhattan, is a much coveted feature. Landscaped with bamboo trees, this space also has private, covered cabanas and a separate VIP area. Mission Control also has a 105 seat destination restaurant inspired by the Japanese dojo, which houses a platform in the middle of the dining room. Highlighting yet another innovative tech concept here, Rockwell says, "The tables on this platform disappear in the day to
make room for a seating pit with cushions and come up for seating in the night; they also move in again to create a dance platform, when need be."

Cool comfort
No hotel is complete without luxurious spaces to relax and rejuvenate after a long day of travel. And Yotel fulfils this need with aplomb! The eighteen floors above Mission Control boast bright, modern rooms to serve as guest rooms. There are guest rooms, imperial suites and premier suites with jacuzzis and private terraces. Here, technology again provides efficiency and comfort; the bed in the guest room transforms into a lounging position at the touch of a button, a techno wall houses the TV and storage components, and a modern bathroom is wrapped in glass, located on the window wall. However, having the bathroom placed here was quite a challenge for the designers because it was difficult to deal with the transmission of heat from the exterior wall a feat that was achieved nonetheless!

The imperial suites are larger, with two bedrooms, a kitchen cum dining room and a living room with a fireplace. These rooms were envisioned either as luxury suites or private spaces for events and meetings; hence, the kitchen table transforms from a dining or meeting table into a pool table. Another attractive feature here is the bed. Rockwell says, "Unique in shape and larger than the beds in the other room types, this round zone of comfort becomes a dynamic feature, accessible from all sides. Equipped with a motor, it can rotate to give the guest choices of view." The mood lighting enhances the overall design of the rooms. One may choose between a general or a relaxing ambience the latter featuring the signature Yotel purple lighting. Individual reading lights have also been installed above the beds.

In a nutshell
Neatly summing up the concept of Yotel, Rockwell says: "The hotel is for the on the go world traveller who comes to New York for a short stay and wants a convenient, modern, tech savvy hotel to come home to, where everything is right at his or her fingertips in an efficient and quirky manner."Indeed, the design of Yotel would become a memorable part of any travel experience!

Meet the architect
David Rockwell

Firm: Rockwell Group, founded in 1984.
Firm specialisation: Hospitality, cultural, product and set design.
Design philosophy: Crafting a unique narrative and strategy for each client is fundamental to Rockwell Group's successful design approach – from the big picture to the last detail, the story informs and drives the design.
Philosophy towards life: Don't be afraid to take risks!
Favourite architect/designer: Serie Architects.

Rockwell Group,
5 Union Square West, New York,
NY-10003. Tel: +1-212-463-0334.

Softroom Limited,
341 Oxford Street, London W1C
2JE. Tel: 020 7408 0864.