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”Okay. You are now a Citizen.” Robin Chadha, a co-founder of CitizenM, hands me a black laminated card. All I’ve done is check into a hotel, but Robin makes it sound as if I’ve joined some clandestine international movement.
In a way, I have. CitizenM has opened a new hotel on London’s Bankside. The Dutch owners are established in Amsterdam and Glasgow; next is New York, then Paris.
Theirs is only the most out-there version of a new and fast-growing kind of urban hotel: one that’s doing away with many of the things we’ve become used to.
They don’t have check-ins, concierges, dining rooms, and they question something even more fundamental: the very idea of what “luxury” is.
CitizenM is on a mission to shake up the business of sleeping, eating and staying. On paper and in size, they and the hotels like them pose no threat to the big chains.
But their philosophy is a challenge.
CitizenM’s slogan is Affordable Luxury for the People. All the rooms are the same because that’s “democratic”.
So, at check-in you’re not told: “I’m delighted to say that you have been upgraded from a superior luxury twin to a junior executive double.”
In fact, you’re not told anything unless you are struggling with your CitizenM card. That’s unlikely, though. You’ve paid up front and online, so you just swipe, get your room number and up you go.
Chadha aims for a one-minute check-in and a 30-second check-out. If you need a copy of your bill, you can print “the world’s smallest receipt”. Going paperless and fuss-free is part of the mission.
The rooms may not be large, but they feel luxurious, minimalism all warmed up.
The living room is the main area. It’s a low-slung, colourful space, part-airport lounge, part-student union bar.
CitizenM wouldn’t exist without connectivity: M stands for “mobile”. The Wi-Fi is free, of course, and there are screens dotted around. But the designers have embraced the spirit of therapeutic slowness. The book library works on an honesty basis, as does the food, placed in a 24-hour grazing area. – The Independent