Big Idea

Capsule Comfort

With an eye on short-stay travellers, Urbanpod is creating its own niche with affordable pod hotels

Soumik Kar

When Hiren Gandhi’s friend and former classmate from SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Shalabh Mittal, called him to discuss the concept of ‘capsule’ or ‘pod’ hotels in 2014, Gandhi’s first reaction was of disbelief. He runs a successful chain of family-owned 4-star hotels in Gujarat called Express Hotels. The three properties — two in Vadodara and one in Jamnagar — are full-service hotels with amenities such as fitness centre and concierge. More importantly, his hotels have spacious rooms averaging 250 square feet in area. In contrast, ‘pods’ or capsule hotels have room sizes typically ranging between 50 and 90 square feet. Sleek, minimalistic and modern interiors make the best use of available space, and there’s no fancy furnishing. Naturally, the idea of making guests stay in a ‘capsule’ sounded odd to Gandhi.