One thing I like very much about airports is that they always seem to have free wifi available. Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport is no exception, and with a fair amount of time to kill before my connecting flight to Osaka takes off I thought I'd take a moment to tell you about Yotel (and give you a travel update).
Yotel is where I slept (sort of) last night, in preparation for my very early flight. I'd managed to book a flight that departed at 06:45 this morning without thinking too much about how straightforward it would be to get to the airport 3 hours before take off to drop my bags and do the security thing at quarter to 4 in the morning.
After perusing a host of hotels available in the Heathrow Terminal 4 area I came to the conclusion that it was still going to be bloody difficult to get the departure lounge by 03:45. This is where Yotel came to the rescue. It's a capsule hotel, located inside Terminal 4 at Heathrow (there's also a Yotel at Gatwick airport, one in New York and another in Amsterdam), and you book rooms by the half hour.
Firstly, it's quite pricey. I paid £65 to have access to a room from 18:30 on Saturday 7th, until 03:30 on Sunday 8th. Nine hours. Nine! Still, the ease of access to the terminal (as well as being next door to the Weatherspoons) made it worthwhile.
Having considered them for my stay in Tokyo, I was also somewhat intrigued by the prospect of capsule hotels. Yotel was dreamed up by the guy who created Yo! Sushi and takes inspiration from capsule hotels in Japan, the concept is to provide luxury cabins for short durations, allowing passengers the chance to spend time before, between, or after flights in comfort.
The cabin is small. Really small. I could tell you that they are 3m x 2m but without actually being inside it I'm not sure you can truly grasp how small this is, considering it contains a single bed, a toilet, shower area and has a fold out table. I tried to photograph the cabin in a way that demonstrates just how small it was but I couldn't position myself far enough away from anything to get much more than half the bed in frame.
Eventually I prevailed to some degree. Here's a couple of images, one of the bed side (I had to sit on the toilet and lean into the corner), and one of the washroom side (taken from on the bed, as close to the wall as possible).
Despite the tiny tiny size though, I kind of liked it. The bed was comfortable, and offered a flat screen TV at the end (I entertained myself with back to back Big Bang Theory repeats on E4), and the room genuinely has everything you need to exist. It's simple, but effective. I might even be the kind of person that could spend extended periods of time living in a space like this.
I managed an hour or so of sleep before being woken by a knock on the door. I opened it to find the nice chap from reception who informed me that the airport fire alarm had been activated and I needed to evacuate. I did so, and stood around downstairs for a bit while fire fighters milled around trying to find a fire (I don't think they found one), and after 15 minutes or so I was allowed back up to the room for more sleep. If anyone has any worries that a hotel being inside an airport terminal would be really noisy, in the case of Yotel this is not the case. There are the occasional sounds of people waking the hallways, or closing doors, but considering I couldn't even hear the fire alarm from the terminal until I was physically outside the Yotel area, I think the soundproofing is very good.
After a few more hours sleep, I successfully awoke to my first alarm (clock, not fire), checked out and wandered to departures. Sadly I didn't really have the opportunity to use the free tea and coffee options, or the paid food that is available 24-7, maybe if I use one again I'll be able to tell you if they make a good brew.
As advised, I arrived at departures 3 hours before the flight was due to take off. Unfortunately however, the check in desks opened only 2 hours before the flight was due to take off. Despite the unnecessary hour of floor sitting, my first experience with online check in was successful, the flight took off bang on schedule and now I'm sitting on a very uncomfortable metal seat in the departures lounge of Rome's airport, waiting for my connecting flight to Osaka which is due to leave in four hours.
Here's a picture taken from the plane, it's one of my last views of England, and sort of sums the country up.
Cloudy, but quite pretty.
I have some more shots from the plane, the Alps look incredible from above but I'll save those for another time. For now, I'm off to try and find some form of lunch, hopefully somewhere will accept Sterling...