Are 'Five-Star' Shipping Container Hotels Completely Contradictory, Or is it Just Us?
Where: Various Locations
Southern Sri Lanka was the most recent region to begin development of a “shipping container hotel,” continuing a trend that has already made its way into Belgium, China, and the United States.
The idea has drawn lots of praise and corny "thinking inside the box" references from media outlets, which we agree is well deserved on a basic level (other than the cliched rhetoric, of course). We’ll be the first to admit that specialty properties are awesome and, especially in the case of ice hotels, something you’ll remember long after you’ve forgotten about the time you stayed at the chain hotel in the city center. In that sense, we support new and unique ideas of construction that create niche markets.
But something weird is happening with the shipping container hotel in China, the Xiang Xiang Pray House. It's made of shipping containers, and it claims to be a five-star hotel, and expects guests to pay five-star prices for views of... other shipping containers? Really? The high rates associated with ice hotels make sense to us for their hand-crafted beauty, but we're not sure the same applies to container properties.
Maybe we missed something, but we thought the idea here was to repurpose used shipping containers to create basic, hostel-esk accommodations for budget and "down-to-earth" travelers. Perhaps the property in China is an exception, as the one coming to Sri Lanka seems like it will be a bit more modest. The one in Detroit also seems like it will appeal to everyone but the upper class, although neither of the above have released what their rates will be yet.
We can only hope that the prices are more in line with what we'd expect from a room built of a used shipping container, falling somewhere in between a private room at a hostel and a regular hotel room (hopefully closer to the former). These projects sound great in theory as far as being environmentally friendly goes, but if they fill them with fancy amenities and/or don't draw guests, then we'll look back on all this container business as nothing more than another expensive, trendy marketing attempt in the name of the environment gone wrong.