“Pod” hotels are pretty popular in Asia. They’re less expensive, and the footprint of the hotel itself takes up less space, making it ideal for crowded cities.
I’ve never traveled to Asia, and I’ve never stayed in pod hotel. Till now.
A decade and half or so ago, I did backpack around the UK a bunch, and I primarily stayed in hostels. Hostel living can be really fun; you meet cool people from all over the world, and the price is right for those travelling on a budget. However, you lack privacy and if you’re an introvert, it can be your worst nightmare.
So I had a few misgivings when I headed up the Sea To Sky highway recently with my galpal, Farzana.
We booked into the Pangea Pod Hotel, which is, by far, the most affordable hotel stay in Whistler. Many places start at $300/night, and the Pangea starts at around $60 per person.
The hotel itself is perfectly located. You literally could not ask for a more central location. It’s right in the heart of the village, within easy walking distance to all of Whistler’s main attractions.
The Pangea has been open just a year, and business is great, the manager told me.
It’s not surprising. The hotel offers a ton of amenities.
Besides it being centrally located, the hotel itself is beautifully decorated and quite charming. There are several murals painted by local artist @olavolo (yay for supporting local artists!) both in the vestibule, and in the feature wall of The Living Room. The Pangea also features tons of storage for mountain bikes in the summer, and skis and snowboards in the winter.
The Living Room is the Pangea’s common space. During the day, it acts as a lounge/coffee shop, where you can hang out and do some work on your computer. At night, it becomes a bar. There are board games, karaoke, and brunch, all overlooking Whistler’s main drag.
The food was good. I was especially impressed with the variety of vegan and gluten-free menu items. They’re well known for their “flabreads” (pizza), which makes a great happy-hour snack, and some pretty slammin’ cocktails.
There’s also a rooftop bar on a patio, where you can order a drink and watch the world go by. Each of the pods also has its own small private patio.
Another thing I really liked about the hotel was how modern it was in terms of technology. Check-in was done via ipads at the front desk, and I received updates from the hotel on my phone via text message. Doors to the pods were unlocked with RFID bracelets.
But pods–let’s talk about them–because this is where I was feeling some anxiety. Our pod contained 8 bunks, and it also had two WCs, two sinks, a shower and a changing room. There were four bunks downstairs and four upstairs in our little pod.
Each bunk easily sleeps two, and hotel accommodation includes linens and towels, you don’t have to bring your own. Each bunk includes a place to hang your clothes, shelving, a mirror, a light, USB charging stations, and a curtain for privacy. Across from the bunks, you’ll find lockers for storing your valuables (be sure to bring your own lock).
Pods are either front-entry (cheaper and harder to get into) or side-entry. They also provide female-only pods if that makes you more comfortable.
Okay! So now for the tough questions: was it weird sleeping with strangers? Did anyone snore? Did we feel safe?
I gotta say, the whole experience was surprisingly pleasant. It was quiet. The hotel has built-in fans that provide white noise, so that helps to disguise any ambient noise of people coughing, turning over, etc. The pods themselves are very quiet.
In fact, I was a bit surprised we didn’t make more friends while we were there. Most people seemed to keep to themselves, other than a friendly greeting. Maybe this was because we weren’t travelling solo?
The bunks themselves were really comfortable. The mattress was great, the linens were clean, and it was cozy. It reminded me of camping–but nice camping–glamping.
There were a few things we thought could be improved on. First off, there was not really anywhere to sit down. A few chairs scattered around would have been helpful for say, putting on and taking off shoes. Secondly, while the storage lockers were big, I found that whole process a bit frustrating. When I stay at a hotel, I usually put my suitcase somewhere so I have easy access to my things. In this case, it was challenging to have to paw through my bag every time I needed something, and I often found myself misplacing stuff. We could possibly have found it a bit easier if we had used two lockers instead of one, but the lockers could have been improved with maybe some hooks or some shelves. The last thing we had a bit of an issue with was that the shared bathrooms used towels to dry your hands with after washing. I appreciate that this is the more environmentally-friendly route, and makes it feel more like a hotel, it made me a bit nervous to use a towel that many (?) people had used before. I ended up bringing my own towel (the one supplied by the hotel) to wash with–if I could remember.
Surprisingly, I never had to wait for the bathroom, there was always one available. And everything was really clean, which we appreciated.
So, despite my misgivings (mostly because I was unsure of what to expect), I really liked the Pangea Pod Hotel. Next time you’re in Whistler, check it out!
Here’s a video of our adventure, including a look inside the Pangea: