Space in city centres has never been scarcer — which means designers, architects, and hoteliers need to shift their focus in order to create accommodation solutions that optimise what little space there is and ensure it meets all the needs of 21st-century travellers. Forecasting the end of the hotel room as we know it, brands are reinventing the classic hotel with a Gen Y-inspired twist that paves the way for a new way of travelling and working.
Imagine WeWork combined with Airbnb, welcome to Zoku. A micro-loft that forecasts the ‘death of the hotel room’ by replacing reception and room service in favour of ultra-creative communal spaces and co-living vibes. Stemming from the Japanese word meaning – family, tribe, or clan – the nomadic space is comprised of 133 rooms — each with a fully-equipped kitchen, cleverly-designed storage space, an elevated, and loft-style sleeping space (whilst guests can add a personal touch by choosing their own art). With over 500m2 of social space for interaction, a lively scene of music concerts, acoustic sessions and plans to roll out the concept in other creative cities around the world, Zoku is redefining the structure of hotel lounging for all types of travellers.
The revolutionary design, customisable interiors, and smart use of space dictated by the needs of contemporary travellers is a forecast of what’s to come in other cosmopolitan cities. Marc Jongerius (co-founder and managing director) believes that his hybrid approach, between a flat and a hotel for professionals, can help overcrowded cities to better cope with the influx of visitors. In addition, Zoku Amsterdam is converted office space, so it isn’t encroaching on real estate that locals need.
You may be wondering why I’m creating a specific feature on this hotel given that Lovescribe is supposed to be a romantic inspiration blog not a sales pitch for a business traveller. The reason is, I unexpectedly ended up here, after booking a jazz concert through Airbnb and this just happened to be the venue. It’s not heavily advertised, it’s not overcrowded and thankfully not full of Instagrammers posing on furniture, it’s like a cosy home and that’s what makes it romantic. For lovers, travel isn’t merely about convenience, it’s about the experience. For families and couples, a hotel is usually more than some function of location, amenities, price, and reward points, it is about something memorable and unique.
So, from the outside it looked like nothing special, but as the elevator doors opened onto the 6th floor, I audibly gasped. As if I were standing before the gates to heaven, a corridor of greenery and ambient light unfolded before me, with a candle-lit, co-working utopia waiting for me at the end. On both sides of the greenhouse-like glass tunnel, there were sweeping views of the city and suburbs.
Food is very much part of the sharing, social ethos at Zoku and the ‘Living Kitchen’ is at the core of this co-living space. The open-plan kitchen features a central, tiled island where you can see your dish being cooked in front of you, while you help yourself to a glass of wine and freshly baked ciabatta bread. All the food is locally sourced, so lunch menus change daily, and dinner menus weekly.
The expansive living room area is structured with clusters of inviting sofas, with bookshelves, soft throws and fish tanks creating an unparalleled cosy mood. In the centre of the homely space is a chic bar with a variety of fresh tea leaves, homemade cakes and water tanks filled with fruit. With board games resting on the shelves, giant glass jars filled with marshmallows and jelly beans (free for you to take) and coffee tables inlaid with chess boards, this is a relaxing haven for couples looking to snuggle up and unwind together. I took the opportunity to lull in the hammocks on the rooftop and watch the sunset across Amsterdam’s skyline from the herb garden. This place is nothing short of a utopian oasis in a bustling, expensive city.
Zoku Apartments from €140 (£130) in low season and from €350 (£323) in high, excluding breakfast and 6% city tax. If you’ve been to Amsterdam before, I’m sure you’re aware of the exorbitant prices for everything, so a chic, loft-inspired apartment for £130 is a fair price.
These images supplied by Zoku don’t do justice to the place, seriously go and see it for yourself. ❤