Up Gough Street, in the heart of Sheung Wan, is Hong Kong’s first capsule hotel, Sleeep. Even without the trappings of a traditional hotel room, you have everything you need. A very comfortable bed, hot showers and surprise, surprise, space. Co-founder Jun Rivers speaks.

How did you manage to maximise a mere 34 square metres?

We employed various techniques to augment utilisation as well as perception. Behind perfectly straight walls, we built in all kinds of storage spaces that blend in with the walls. The material choices and weight of say, the doors, capture the user’s attention so they focus less on the size but the haptic experience they are having. The basic architectural technique of contrasting contraction and expansion, as well as the progression of spaces by changing the atmosphere of each space help.

Even the capsules feel more spacious than they look.

By rounding the corners and using real wood lining, we blur the edges of the space. We then disseminate the edges of the ceiling with eclipse lighting; staring at a bland ceiling only reminds you how small the space is. Lastly, there’s a magnetic felt curtain that balances permeability and privacy.

Design is indeed crucial for a good sleep.

Designing for sleep is almost like a counter-balance to where the other products go – constant stimulation, instant gratification and engineered addiction. While most products and services in a consumerist society is trying to get you high and ready to spend 24/7, we are asking our users to make the wise choice of buying time to recharge themselves and reward their bodies. This, with nothing more than a genuine feeling of improved wellness. In order for us to speak to them amid the noise, it is important that our design is quiet yet impossible to ignore.

It’s nice to know that besides the fact that every aspect of the design is carefully calculated, Sleeep is sustainable as well.

As a hospitality business, it’s almost inevitable that we’d have to cool our space throughout the year in Hong Kong. While most air conditioners dump heat into the air, we use the same heat to warm our showers.

What does Sleeep have that the average hotel is missing?

How about flipping the question and ask what do others have that we don’t? Almost everything, from the reception desk to sofas and swimming pools. All we have is the incessant pursuit of quality sleep and a unique user experience. We are not spending our effort and our users’ money on the peripherals that are rarely utilised anyway. That’s our minimalist approach to hospitality. 

What tips do you have for someone who is stuck living in a shoebox apartment?

Think vertical: give the floor some breathing room. Play with lighting. It changes a space more than we tend to think. Get rid of things you don’t need. You’ll feel happier. 

Fans of great outdoors, lifelong buddies Jun Rivers and Alex Kot realised how little sleep the young professional was getting and decided to address this problem. Guests can book by night or by hours and even personalise their capsule space prior to their arrival. Check in at 242 Queen’s Road Central, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

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