I’ve stayed in many hotels and lodges around the world, from ritzy to rustic, but Snooze in Christchurch is the coolest of them all. The communal concept really appeals to me. Warm, welcoming, friendly and decidedly quirky, it fills a yawning gap at the affordable end of the Christchurch accommodation market.
Walking distance from the airport, the accommodation complex, owned by New Zealand company JUCY, opened on November 1, 2016 and has already welcomed over 25,000 guests.
Manager Anna Flores from Barcelona says the occupancy rate went from about 60 percent in the first few months to 85-90 percent at the start of this year and is now hovering around 80 percent.
The 2-storey facility sleeps over 270 guests in a variety of formats.
The majority of the accommodation is made up of rooms with eight semi-enclosed ‘pods’, four at ground level, and four accessed by ladder. Each pod has a king-single bed with a comfy mattress, fitted lower sheet, pillow, duvet, light, fan, temperature control, mirror, power and USB points, free Wi-Fi, and blinds to enclose the space.
Unlike the Asian sleeping capsule concept, the pods are surprisingly spacious with plenty of head room to sit up and move around.
Underneath there’s a sizeable locker with a combination lock for secure storage. Simple, cosy, private and attractive to the eye, pods can be rented per night, per week or by the hour for travellers wanting to sleep between flights. Pod-dwellers share generous, immaculately-clean bathroom and shower facilities just down the hall.
Snooze also offers private single, twin, queen and family rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Cleverly designed to maximise the use of space, the super-comfortable beds are raised higher than usual off the ground providing ample room for bulky cases and packs underneath.
The rooms have a large flat screen TV in a wooden frame, a shiny white bathroom with a big mirror, roomy shower, great water pressure . . . and a hairdryer in the bedside cabinet with a note saying ‘It’s the little things that matter’.
After two weeks on the road in a motorhome, I beamed at the hairdryer as if I had found a hidden treasure.
The decor is predominantly white which gives the rooms a clean, bright look but JUCY’s trademark colours pop up on the green doors and purple ‘proverbs’ on the walls like
Why stop dreaming when you wake up?
Wish it, Dream it, Do it.
Shared kitchen and common room
The ‘bonhomie’ in the shared kitchen and common room reminded me of the fun we’ve had in tramping huts over the years – travellers from all parts of the globe speaking many different languages, making new friends, cooking together, sharing food, wine and beer, swapping recipes and addresses, and planning the next stage of their adventures.
The kitchen, with its long stainless steel bench, cookers, ovens, dishwashers and fridges, was abuzz with activity and animated conversation at dinner and breakfast times. Such a warm, congenial, colourful scene.
It was heart-warming to see young travellers from countries whose leaders are not on good terms with each other ignoring the feuds and getting on so well together.
The large high-ceilinged common room has a variety of dining, sitting, lounging and relaxing options including hammocks, a garden swing, comfy bean bags and oversized cushions. Wi-Fi is free and there are ample power points to recharge technology.
During my stay, I noticed a collection of camping gear in one corner of the common room: sleeping bags, tents, eating and cooking utensils, fold-up chairs, a multi-plug board and even a couple of candles, all in good order. A note from Simon, Mieneke and Marjet said: ‘Free camping stuff. Everything is complete and works properly. Enjoy!’ To me, this seemed to typify the generous-natured ethos of the place.
From Tuesday to Saturday between 3pm and 7pm, a JUCY travel consultant gives free advice and information about what to do and see around New Zealand. The weather was appalling while I was there so Mike was fully occupied, offering suggestions about what to do on a rainy day in Christchurch.
The reception desk is manned 24 hours a day with friendly, knowledgeable, capable staff like Alannah who has been at Snooze since Day 1. There are also two booths providing a computerised check-in process.
Snoozers also have access to luggage storage and a laundry with coin-operated washing machines and dryers. A free shuttle service runs at regular intervals between Snooze, JUCY Rentals and Christchurch Airport.
Right next door to Snooze in Spitfire Square, there are cafes, bars, restaurants and a supermarket.
Assistant manager Juan Barrera from Mexico says the majority of the guests come from Europe and Asia and are in their 20s and 30s although Snooze is also popular with older travellers and family groups.
The guests I chatted to raved about the Snooze concept with its informal, convivial, communal vibe. Solo travellers told me it’s a great place to make friends and find travel companions. There’s no such thing as loneliness here, they said.
The whole place exudes personality, even the stairwell – it’s decorated with colourful murals depicting Christchurch street scenes. Artist Wongi Wilson calls them ‘Pockets of Awesome’.
- Pods range in price from $30 and private rooms from $99
- There’s a Snooze in Auckland and one planned for Queenstown