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Yotel plans micro hotel for Boston

Some of the 669 cabins in the Yotel New York, near Times Square, are about 175 square feet in size. A developer plans similar rooms in Boston, from 160 to 200 square feet.Yotel

First came micro apartments. Now a Boston developer wants to build some of the city’s smallest hotel rooms on property in the South Boston Innovation District.

John B. Hynes III is proposing to develop a Yotel, whose rooms — Yotel calls them “cabins” — have set a new benchmark for efficiency from London to New York to Amsterdam.

The rooms in Boston would range between 160 and 200 square feet, Hynes said, or roughly half the size of traditional rooms at the nearby Westin Waterfront. The 307-room Yotel is to be built along Seaport Boulevard, across from the John Joseph Moakley US Courthouse.


“It’s a high-quality finished product, and there is no wasted space,” Hynes said. “It’s great for a budget-conscious business traveler who’s popping in and popping out. You don’t pay for all these amenities you don’t use.”

The hotel would be part of Hynes’s Seaport Square development, which is to include a mix of apartments, stores, office buildings, and public parks on 23 acres of parking lots in the center of the Innovation District.

Later this summer, Hynes said, he will start construction on a pair of 22-story apartment buildings along Seaport Boulevard with 300,000 square feet of new stores and restaurants.

Originally, an apartment building was planned for the hotel site. Hynes said he has sold the property, known as Parcel J, to Wheelock Street Capital for an amount that’s not being disclosed. He said he is working with the firm to get approvals for the hotel project from Boston regulators. Executives with Wheelock could not be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for Yotel said the company wants to open a hotel in Boston, but she would not discuss details until the plans are finalized.

A preliminary proposal for the Yotel calls for an 11-story building with a rooftop bar and seating area, designed by the Boston architecture firm ADD Inc. The hotel would serve as a lower-priced alternative to the luxury hotels that dominate the market in the Innovation District and downtown.


The project was scheduled to be discussed at a meeting of the Boston Civic Design Commission Tuesday night. It will also need approval from the Boston Redevelopment Authority. Hynes said that he hopes to begin construction in the fall.

Room rates for the Yotel in Boston have not been set. In New York, a standard cabin with a queen bed at the Times Square location goes for about $249 a night, compared to $374 and up for rooms at that city’s downtown Marriott.

Yotel offers a range of cabin sizes at its hotels but is known for extremely compact rooms, especially at its airport locations. Its hotel at Schiphol Airport in Amersterdam, for example, offers 75-square-foot pods that more resemble train cabins than hotel rooms.

The Yotel in the Innovation District would be one of several hotels planned or under construction in the neighborhood, which has seen a burst of construction activity in the past few years. A 136-room boutique hotel is under construction nearby, in front of the Barking Crab restaurant. Two mid-priced hotels with a total of 500 rooms are under construction across from the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, and managers of the convention hall are proposing to develop another 1,200 rooms in coming years.

Hotel industry specialists said that a Yotel would help answer the demand for lower-priced hotel rooms in Boston. Such hotels are typically difficult to build because of high land and construction costs in the city, which requires developers to charge higher rates.


“The Innovation District is a great place to try out a product like this,” said Patrick Moscaritolo, chief executive of the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“It’s worked in other major international gateway cities, and I think it can work here. It certainly will provide another option for visitors and business travelers.”

Related coverage:

5/17: Waterfront development gets OK from city

7/26: Boston backs smaller living units

3/27: Growth of micro-units will be slow in Boston

3/26: Housing-starved cities seek relief in micro-apartments

Casey Ross can be reached at cross@globe.com.