Mobile. That’s what the M in Citizen M stands for. Reflecting the target audience of busy people who don’t want the usual hotel experience but want to get in, somewhere to sleep and a great living area to relax in before bed. A “good shower, good bed, good wi-fi, coffee and some kind of environment, and good location.” That’s how they describe the experience of this affordable luxury hotel group.
I recently co-hosted an event at Citizen M Tower Hill as part of We Blog Design (our little community, a free network that informs, inspires and connects design bloggers), where I stayed in the hotel from 10am through to the next morning, experiencing this affordable luxury first hand.
What interested me about the hotel group is that living areas are filled to the brim with the bold colours and iconic shapes of Vitra classic furniture, from Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Verner Panton, Jean Prouvé and Isamu Noguchi in every space that you look yet this hotel charges between only £125-£200 per night. Sure, that’s not cheap but try finding a hotel in London that charges less… your options are very limited.
“It’s not necessarily designer furniture, it’s more to create the environment all together.” says CMO Robin Chadha of Citizen M “Of course we have one type of bedroom, we don’t have superior rooms or suits or Kings or Queens.”
And that appears to be the key to Citizen M, place importance on what matters to busy travellers and not on the unnecessary things which don’t make a difference. Obviously, some stay in hotels for the luxury and decadence but that’s not who the Citizen M customer is and there is a plethora of options for them. And by having compact rooms that are stacked up like pods, but a warm and welcoming reception to relax in you can feel perfectly at home wherever you choose to rest.
“From our own experiences we said ‘ok how do you spend your time at home, how much time do you spend in your bedroom at home?’ I sleep there, maybe I read a book, go and watch a TV show, I live in my living room and my kitchen so why would we do it differently in the hotel? It’s very simple you know, that’s how we came up with the whole concept, we looked first at the traveller, who is this new mobile citizen, we named it after them, we took up our own frustrations and experiences we had with travelling, that’s how we came up with half the things here.”
“What we do is all the room units, those are all the same, instead of trying to build on-site, why not build off-site so they’re all modular units which are created in a factory, basically we build a ground floor, two ground floors, on top of that the rooms are stacked and then we close the façade and close everything up around it.”
This concept excites me greatly. Clever design… and good design doesn’t need to be luxurious. This has been going around my head for some time now as I see great products at the high end, and poorly constructed products at the low end. Efficiency is the key to creating luxury at a price that is more affordable to everyone.
“We don’t cut corners in design, technology, iPads in the rooms, we’ve added more cool stuff you’ll see at Tower Hill but we think that’s all part of the experience. Of course we have ways of saving money…our staffing model of course is quite efficient, we don’t have a restaurant, we don’t have chefs, we don’t have waitresses, great for the guests are also the great for our operations because we don’t need to have this whole front desk area, people can check in and out very quickly.”
Investing in good quality design for key parts of the home, or in this case hotel, is the best approach to designing an interior that will last, look great but avoid the high costs of having expensive furniture throughout. Focus on what matters at home…comfort. Citizen M have focused on a comfortable bed, a great shower and incredible furniture to relax in making this one of my favourite places in London.
Affordable luxury that I can feel at home in. What more do we need?
Quotes taken from a recent interview by Katie Treggiden of Confessions of a Design Geek, who kindly sent me specific quotes that she knew I’d find interesting for my post.