What is a Micro Hotel: 11 Lessons on Thinking Small

The modern traveler has high expectations where comfort and quality are concerned. They travel on a budget yet expect a high-end hotel’s luxurious substance and style.

There’s logic to small-space luxury; hotel guests don’t usually spend much time in their hotel rooms, so why would they want to pay for space they aren’t using? Ranging anywhere from 25 to 200 sq.ft., a micro hotel (or microtel) room is an old concept modernized for today’s world.

A hotel bed made up with white linens, pillows, and reading lamps on either side of the bed.Micro hotels are a bare-bones option that’s become popular in highly populated areas where space is at a premium. Micro hotel rooms bring together the smaller, functional rooms of European hotels and the sleek elegance you would expect of a luxury boutique-style hotel, with minimalist decor and unique style.

Many micro hotels offer some type of dining option, even if it’s a simple kiosk in the “living room style” lobby. However, most micro hotels don’t offer room service. After all, part of the fun of visiting different places is to sample the local restaurants and food establishments, right?

So, what is a micro hotel, what do they offer, and what lessons can I take away? While small stays aren’t for everyone, there are a few lessons on simplicity that every hotel-owner can learn by looking at the practices of these small-but-popular lodging options.

Creating a Micro Boutique Atmosphere

Smaller rooms need to be functional and bright – small doesn’t mean boring. Atmosphere is everything. Whether your concept is a simple room with only a fantastic bed or a tiny room stocked with over-the-top luxury extras depends on your theme, the space you’re working with, and your budget.

The goal is to offer something unique to impress guests, especially travel influencers who can help spread your fame. Whether for business or pleasure, Travelers want their stay to be memorable, including their hotel experience. Successful micro boutique hotels have an unforgettable atmosphere for all the right reasons.

Many micro boutiques have vibrant gathering spaces where guests can mingle. Some host events and supply evening entertainment, like live music or trivia nights, and other micro hotels attract guests with quirky and unique decor.

11 Marketing Hooks for Micro Hotels

A hotel concierge bell on a desk, with hotel concierge staff in the background. Making your micro hotel a positive highlight of the trip is particularly important in the social media era. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire online, and one review going viral could make or break the business.

It’s critical to identify your niche and market to your target guest audience. Why should anyone choose your hotel over any other? Here are some potential selling points:

1. Leverage your location

Your hotel’s physical location will influence every part of your business, so it’s essential to get that right. For example, if there’s a particular attraction near your location, it makes sense to market yourself to people interested in the attraction or venue.

For example, a boutique hotel near Lambeau Field might feature Packers colors and memorabilia, have a sports bar that serves pretzel-wrapped brats, Wisconsin craft beer, and cheese plates. You might even offer a perk like a bus to and from the stadium on game nights.

2. Offer accessibility

Does your hotel have accommodation and spaces for those with limited mobility or disabilities? What accessibility features do you have available?

Accessibility is more than just smooth entryways and being able to fit a chair through a door. Are there secure charging stations for wheelchair users to charge their chair batteries? Sockets are available (perhaps with an international socket extender) for those who need sleep devices that run on electricity.

3. Create a restful atmosphere

Blackout blinds, sensory music, and soundproofing are good selling points for people who need a safe and peaceful environment to sleep. A quiet space with a comfortable bed in a noisy city can have enormous appeal.

4. Price accordingly

Two women smiling at each other while searching online for affordable hotel deals on a computer.Pricing should reflect the location, size, and amenities of the room. Some price their rooms by square footage, especially in areas where space truly is a premium luxury.

Paying only for the space they use while using it is an option that works well for travelers who want a place to nap between flights. Minute Suites, for example, is a chain of micro hotels you can find inside U.S. airports that offers an inspired concept: rent for only the time you need with a one-hour minimum. Then, if you miss your connecting flight, have a layover, or your flight is delayed, you can grab a nap and a shower inside the concourse without having to deal with TSA security at boarding time. Renting in hourly increments can add up fast at $45 per hour, but the convenience is worth the cost for some travelers.

5. Leverage practicality

Keeping every step of the process simple and easy keeps today’s travelers happy. Some micro hotels opt for automated check-in kiosks, while others prefer an intimate experience where talking to the guests is integral to the hotel vibe. Let that be a selling point wherever your hotel falls on the personal touch spectrum.

Bus stop or train station within walking distance? Within walking distance of an attraction? Public transportation and convenience can be practical selling points to market your hotel.

6. Adopt a theme

Having a particular theme for your boutique micro hotel makes a huge talking point, and the more unique it is, the better! Whether each micro hotel room has a unique theme or all the rooms share a central theme, the scope for imaginative decor is endless.

7. Provide luxury

Since micro hotel rooms have less space to convey luxury, the finest beds, bedding, and other furnishings add true luxury to a budget stay. The comfiest beds, the softest sheets, beautiful towels, robes and slippers, boutique bathroom products, themed keepsake souvenirs, and more could be what makes your hotel stand out from your competitors.

8. Add listings

In addition to listings you expect on sites like Google and Priceline, many boutique micro hotels are finding success by listing on less traditional sites like Airbnb. Consider all listing options and check into local travel guides and popular attraction blogs that draw a highly targeted crowd.

9. Smart design for micro hotel rooms

A woman in a hotel robe, sitting on a bed enjoying a cup of morning coffee while looking out at the view outside of her hotel window.Large windows overlooking a fantastic view help alleviate the claustrophobia that often comes with small spaces. Bright, light, neutral color schemes give a feeling of more space in a micro-sized room.

Fitting all your guests may need into a smaller space can be difficult, so consider sliding pocket doors and dual-purpose or foldaway furnishings.

Under-bed or overhead storage utilizes otherwise wasted space.

Lights and speakers can be integral aspects of furnishings or built into the wall to minimize clutter. Soft lighting creates a gentle, calming atmosphere perfect for the micro hotel traveler.

10. Shared or private bathrooms?

Will each micro room have its own bathroom, or can you maximize in-room space and function with a communal bathroom?

Private bathrooms should be compact, functional, bright, and clean. Communal bathrooms can go over the top with sumptuous furnishings or be kept simple but splendid, depending on your general atmosphere.

Of course, you’ll need to make sure the hot water supply is up to the task. A great hotel can be badly let down by a poor water supply or awkward bathroom design, while a fabulous shower or bathroom is often in the spotlight for “bathroom selfies.” Speaking of spotlights, a well-lit full-length mirror is a popular feature for hotel guests.

11. Amenities

Most lodgings come with free WiFi these days, but what else can your hotel offer in the way of amenities? Designer or boutique luxury items can take the hotel experience to the next level. If the goal is to keep the price (and therefore the cost) low, you may choose to keep things basic with simple toiletries, but they can still be unique. Providing local handmade toiletries adds a luxury touch and supports other small businesses.

6 of the Coolest Micro Hotels on the Planet

Nakagin Capsule Tower Building interior
Nakagin Capsule Tower – via

People love to travel and are always looking for a bargain. Investing in a micro hotel could be a smart move if you pick the right location. For inspiration, check out some of the most awesome micro hotels you can rent right now:

Citizen M

With wall-to-wall windows and super soft XL beds, the rooms at Citizen M might be small, but they’re bright and welcoming. The one-minute check-in makes the process smooth and easy. Guests can check in on the app before arriving or at the kiosk on arrival. They can also use the app to order food and drinks, open hotel doors, schedule housekeeping, and adjust room temperature and lighting. You’ll find Citizen M in cities all over the US, Europe, and Asia. Modern travelers will appreciate their environmental stance, with sustainability and renewable energy being a focal point of these trendy micro hotels.


With several locations in NYC, the Arlo in Soho features a rooftop terrace and 24/7 food availability. The rooms average around 150 square feet and are thoughtfully and efficiently designed. Floor-to-ceiling windows give a feeling of spaciousness to the compact spaces. Automatic blackout shades and pegboard closets add to the unique setup, and there is a range of accessible rooms available.

Nadeshiko Hotel

A hotel for women only, the 25 square foot Nadeshiko Hotel rooms contain not much more than a bed. The draw here is the communal bath, luxurious space for women to feel safe and pampered. The bathing room is equipped with complimentary DHC Wagokoro toiletries, skincare items, towels, and more. In addition, there’s a relaxing lounge with computers available for guests and a large communal laundry.

The Hoxton

Their newest The Hoxton location in Rome has four room sizes, the Shoebox, the Cozy, the Roomy, and the Biggy. The compact and cleverly designed Shoebox rooms vary from 140 – 180 sq ft and are ideal for short stays in the historic city. Vibrant lobbies are open around the clock, with food and drinks available 24/7. The thoughtfully designed Hoxton Hotels reflect the surrounding neighborhoods, so their artwork and menus reflect and support the local communities.

Moxy Hotels

Vibrant and playful, Moxy Hotels are an excellent place for groups and solo travelers alike. The experience begins with a complimentary cocktail as you check in at the bar. Food and drink are available 24/7, and there are a wide variety of snacks to choose from. The lobby areas are designed for relaxing, and working and interaction with the locals are encouraged. The rooms are full of small surprises like motion-activated LED guidelights and oversized walk-in showers supplied with signature toiletries. Each room also features a TV, lamp, folding table & chairs and the walls have plenty of clothes pegs.

Code Pod

A fusion of modern micro hotels and old-style hostels, Code Pod in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland, takes advantage of the historic location by offering whisky and beer tastings in their underground vault. The “Pod” in the name comes from the Japanese-style sleeping pods designed to make you feel like you’re in your private room. Each pod has access to a private locker to hold guests’ belongings. There are mixed and female-only dorms available, and each pod comes with USB sockets, LED reading light, hooks, a shelf, and comfy mattresses and linen. One of the coolest things about their new pods is the LED lights behind the headboard with mood-changing colored lights.


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