Fad, trend, craze… whatever you call them, people are always looking for something new and exciting to capture their interest.
Perhaps nothing has helped trends spread like social media has, where people tell the world about that new and exciting thing they were among the first to try.
And that’s the premise behind this latest travel craze. But just like every trend, you’d better get there fast because it’s all about staying current.
Hotels are so last decade…
Most of us are just as concerned with our accommodations during our travels as the actual destination we choose.
Even though we may not spend much time in our hotel rooms, we still expect to be treated like a special guest and hotel chains are always competing for our business by providing those little extras.
They often have a pool, fitness center, and complimentary breakfast. All well and good, but boring… predicable.
Maybe a resort is the way to go – different and exciting, yes, but also way too crowded with all the other travelers who want something more.
You’re unique. You’re special. And you want more than anyone you know has ever experienced before.
Well, we’ve got just the place for you – and they’re literally “popping up” all over the world.
Supply and Demand
Pop-up hotels are all the rage right now. Influencers and budding entrepreneurs are thinking way outside the box of brick-and-mortar hotels to create something you’ve never experienced before.
Something for travelers who want to go to an unexpected place and not have an inconvenient drive back to their hotel – or go to a place where there may not be a hotel in sight.
Sure, you can pitch a tent a camp out in some places, but it may be highly frowned upon, if not illegal, in others.
These pop-up hotels are temporary, but have all the luxuries of your typical hotel and much, much more.
They’re often modular buildings that can be put up and taken down quickly. They’re yurts and glamping-style tents, even those portable storage units you see all over the place.
Want to stay overnight in a national park (where camping may not be allowed), or in the middle of a festival location, or on a safari? There’s a pop-up hotel for you.
The good news is you won’t have to deal with as many annoying “neighbors” or crowds that you’d find at a hotel or resort. And you’ll have that highly-coveted perfect Instagram post.
The bad news is, all this exclusivity, isolation, and the coolness factor comes with a price. But you deserve it, right?
Some pop-ups are more temporary than others, while some are more exclusive, so you can find one that suits your interests and those of your wallet.
Travel company Black Tomato offers high-end pop-ups in locations that are way off the beaten path and often off limits. “Luxury accommodations” ranging from extravagant canvas tents to modular villas will have you sleeping on the sand dunes of Morocco or an isolated island beach.
You’ve probably heard of the Icehotel, one of the first temporary pop-ups developed nearly two decades ago.
Bundle up and have a drink at the ice bar – equipped with ice barstools – then sleep under luxurious furs on your ice bed next to the fireplace. Sounds like a potential disaster to me, but they make it work.
Then there’s every kid’s dream – staying in a giant sandcastle! This dream come true is a pop-up where everything is created out of sand – “reinforced” sand if you’re worried about being buried alive.
In the U.K., a travel company is creating luxury pop-ups out of shipping containers that can be moved anywhere, primarily to festivals and local events where you’ll want to stay close by.
Imagine Woodstock with pop-ups. Sure, some of the concert-goers were able to sleep in their VW vans, but it wasn’t a pretty picture after three days of rain, mud, no running water, and all that shag carpeting.
And then there’s the convenience of being able to eat and drink to your heart’s content while being one of the few who can stay on festival grounds so you don’t get a DUI.
There are plenty of established companies all over Europe just waiting to help you book a dream pop-up away from the boring, predictable, crowded destination hotels.
And then there’s the U.S.
We’re all about tacky, tasteless fun when we’re looking for something unique to do. We love our pop-culture, our fast food, and our lack of inhibition.
We work long hours, we’re always on the go, and we want to escape!
Not only are pop-up hotels becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., but so are pop-up bars and restaurants. Obviously, we get bored easily with all the free time we have.
¡Yo Quiero Taco Bell!
What would be better than a hotel themed around one of our favorite stuff-your-face-on-the-cheap fast food joints?
Yes, dreams really can come true at the Taco Bell pop-up hotel – “The Bell.”
The first one opened up last August in Palm Springs, and they were booked within two minutes.
The grand opening ribbon – made from hot sauce packets – was cut by a top executive for the chain, and specialty menu items were available all weekend.
There were movies by the pool, complete with Taco Bell-seasoned popcorn, pool floats that looked like hot sauce packets, a gift shop with Taco Bell swag, and the rooms’ mini fridges were stocked with the chain’s best snacks.
The initial hotel had 70 rooms, and the success surely means there will be future pop-ups of “The Bell” in our future.
Only in my dreams…
It may be easy to create a pop-up hotel around a broad theme like “The Bell’s” fiesta style and wide option of menu items.
But now, one company is taking it to a whole new level and planning a pop-up hotel around one magical food product – Nutella.
The name alone is enchanting, and the “Hotella Nutella” will be all about exclusivity and luxury as it makes its trial run in Napa Valley this January.
The dreamy hazelnut-chocolate spread loved by anyone who’s sane will be the inspiration for snacks and meals served at the hotel, a pancake art contest, décor inspired by the wonderfood’s red, brown, and white color scheme, and other breakfast items.
A contest is opening in December for a chance to win one of just a few chances to stay in this Instagram-worthy location. Just send a video clip about what Nutella means to you. Those judged most passionate about the silky confection will win a stay.
And because it’s December, we can’t forget about an extension of the pop-up hotel trend that will come to over a hundred locations around the U.S. this month.
“Miracle Bar” and “The Santa” were social media sensations with recent attempts at a Christmas-themed pop-up bar.
They were so popular with Instagram influencers and regular social media addicts that there will be plenty of chances to experience what writer Matthew Meltzer calls a makeover of “previously unused spaces now done up like alcoholic Christmas carnivals” this year.
That sounds pretty great to me.
Themes include tacky Christmas decorations, recreations of our favorite holiday movies, and bars themed around the Big Guy himself. Adults only, of course. No one wants to expose the kids to drunken Santa.
Will this trend last?
In my opinion, yes – at least for a couple of years.
We all want an escape from reality and themed getaways are always fun.
More than that, we all want to one-up each other on Instagram, or Facebook, or Snapchat. What better way than to go somewhere no one else has gone and then rub it in their faces?
And because these establishments are temporary, it’s less likely anyone else will get there by the time your post gets around social media.
The concept of the pop-up industry is that change happens quickly when keeping up with the interests and demands of travelers.
They’re cheaper to construct, and their mobility means they can go wherever the market is hot, or completely change their theme according to what’s currently cool.
While themed hotels are nothing new, the urgency to visit a pop-up is. You know it won’t be around for long, and that makes it all the more worth booking a stay – if you can get it.
Social media runs this trend, so keep an eye out for the next pop-up hotel, restaurant, or bar near you.
And don’t forget to post about the experience. If you don’t, it never happened.