Now you see me, now you don’t.

Posted by Flux on 

7 May 2013


What’s trending now?

Pop up hotels and ashrams.

I dislike feeling at home when I am away from it. ~George Bernard Shaw

The latest move in hotels is, well, hotels that move.

The pop-up idea isn’t new. In 1999 Vacant of Los Angeles, CA, pioneered the pop-up retail concept and since then we’ve been popping into pop-up stores, restaurants and lounges.

Shouldn’t the bubble of pop-ups, which by definition are transient, have popped by now?

Why it’s important?

Travellers are leaving the path of the usual accommodation offerings and are heading for the road less travelled. Pop-up hotels offer adventurous guests the opportunity to sleep in unique lodgings which include swanky shipping containers, stylish stationary boats and plush pods.

According to the latest report prepared by trend spotting analysts at, experiential travel will be a priority for globetrotters this year. As the demand for trendy travel increases, pop-up hotels offer quirky and eccentric spaces; persuasive reasons for the concept to continue. Another motivation is that as travel budgets decrease, pop-up hotels are an affordable option to permanent hotels in desirable locations.

The pop-up accommodation concept is not limited to hotels. Travellers are predicted to forego commercial cruise lines in favour of smaller river boat options that sail along less conventional waterways such as the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam as well as the Danube River between Prague and Istanbul.

What’s the butterfly effect?

The growing demand for rare, unusual and fleeting accommodation has reached mystical proportions. PopUp Ashram offers spiritual-seeking travellers an opportunity to awaken their inner Guru.

For over a decade, Michael Liss, founder of PopUp Ashram, was the Managing Director of Butterfield & Robinson, specialists in bespoke luxury travel experiences. He spent his time searching the world for exclusive holiday experiences with a focus on culture, cuisine, breathtaking landscapes and spectacular hotels.

Four years ago he met a Shaman and his travels in search of luxury and opulence were replaced by a spiritual journey.
PopUp Ashram brings Michael’s experience full circle. ‘There is no contradiction between searching for answers and searching for beauty at the same time,’ he said.

PopUp Ashram began as a unique collaboration with Design Hotels to create inspiring and transformational experiences.

The first PopUp Ashram made its debut last year in Mexico. The Design Hotels Project consisted of 85 raw-luxe cabanas surrounded by jungle on a pristine stretch of the Caribbean coast.Later this year PopUp Ashram will surface in Bali and Italy.

From the spiritual to the sugary…
Earlier this year Tate & Lyle Sugars, the UK’s largest cane sugar brand, created the world’s first pop-hotel in London make entirely out of cake. It was open for one night only on March 21 2013.

It took a team of fourteen cake makers who worked for over 2,000 hours baking and a further 900 hours decorating eight edible rooms in celebration of Tate & Lyle’s ‘Taste Experience’ range of golden and brown fairtrade cane sugars.
The eight tasting rooms corresponded to eight different sugars, showcasing the differences in flavour and texture.
Over 600 kilos of sugar was used to create everything from a rug of over 1,000 meringues to a bath filled with caramel-coated popcorn. Other edible delights included a treasure chest in the Pirates of the Caribbean room, a two-meter high Easter Island statue made from chocolate mud cake and a giant golden-syrup lion.

After winning a competition, one lucky couple got to eat their way through their hotel room and, no doubt, enjoy a night filled with sweet dreams.

The pop-up pop stars.

Pioneers and global hot spots

In December 2011 the word’s first pop-up resort opened in Tulum, Mexico and was scheduled to close in May 2012.  However, its beachfront cabanas on one of the Yucatàn Peninsula’s most desirable beaches have proven to be so popular that the hotel has quietly extended its opening dates. (

A Room for London is one-bedroom hotel on a boat balanced on top of the roof of Southbank Center, the London art complex on the bank of the Thames. Inspired by the boat that the author Joseph Conrad navigated up the River Congo in the 19th century before writing Heart of Darkness, the decks offer views of London icons including Big Ben and St. Paul’s Cathedral.

To get a room you need to get lucky. For a chance of staying there, at approximately R4, 000 a night for one or two adults, you have to take part in a lottery in which winners are randomly selected. A creative collaboration between Living Architecture, which rents out stunning houses designed by modern architects throughout Britain and Artangel, which commissions projects by contemporary artists, the hotel will only be open until the end of this year.(

Sleeping Around, Belgium’s shipping container hotel, converts 6-meter sea containers into self-contained luxury hotel rooms which travel around Antwerp. Utilising eco-friendly materials, the rooms come complete with a box-spring bed, rain shower, iPod docking station and air conditioning.

The San Giorgio Mykonos opened in May 2012 on the glamorous Greek island of Mykonos. The traditional Greek whitewashed buildings with minimalistic decor, offers a more relaxed lodging alternative on an island famous for its vibrant nightlife. As yet no end date has been set but dates on their website are not listed past mid-October 2013.

The Poznan International Fair, the biggest industrial fair in Poland, attracts over 13,000 exhibitors. As a result, the hotels are fully-booked months in advance. Two architects created an inventive solution in an unoccupied apartment building. Quotel is a comfortable pop-up hotel, imaginatively-furnished on a tight-budget using recyclable, reusable elements. (

By: Raleen Bagg

About Raleen

Advertising industry refugee. Freelance writer, full time participant in all that is intriguing, expressive, fascinating, stimulating, startling and surprising. From time to time, reading, painting, photography and restaurants seduce me away from the keyboard.

Image credit: Frederik Herregods + Persfoto’s: Frederik Vercruysse via

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