Here’s One for the Uncanny Bin: The Bicycle Hotel
Sometimes, the best way to enjoy a lot of a certain place quickly is by bike, with the wind on your back and riding free without the metal shell of a car covering you.
Hotels for Bike Users
A bicycle hotel can mean different things to different people in different places around the world. In one of its incarnations, it is exactly as you would imagine, a hotel where you can park your bike and stay with amenities specific to your needs without the extraneous features for other guests (such as those with rental cars or plane reservations) that one usually pays more for. In other cases, not so much.
When you’re new to a city or traveling from an adjacent one by bike, there are scarce accommodations for people specifically of a demographic that uses a bicycle to move around town. Especially less for travellers who specifically use bikes instead of arrive by plane, ride to a location by car or public transit, or other usual modes of transportation.
There is hardly one for bikers with restaurants, hotels or locations especially suited for a bike-riding patron, with their unique needs and concerns in mind. Things like cheap yet comfortable rooms, low-cost but good breakfast, climate-friendly, healthy diets, city maps, help desks specifically for city advice and alternative routes or city exploration by bike, biker-friendly restaurants, cultural and sports events and many others. It can even be one where you can rent bikes if you don’t have one and did happen to arrive in the city using other modes of transportation.
Not to be outdone, The James in the SoHo district of New York does the same, handing out utilitarian bicycles for guests, and even has official Tour de France exercise bikes in its gym that simulates the swerving columns and descents of la Grande Boucle. But Portland, known as the capital of the American indie bike scene has Ace Hotel.
In Japan, there’s Hotel Cycle in Onomichi, where its slogan is “Cycle, Travel and Good things”, and where its fleet of pedaling cruisers are ready for guests’ exploration of its temples, gardens and other exquisite locations in riding style.
But there’s one bike hotel concept that takes this to a literal degree. And it’s not some fad, but one with real, honest-to-goodness benefits:
A Hotel for Bikes, Literally
It’s Lillestrøm in Norway where dreams of an environmental and sustainable future are realized in a nondescript structure beside a train station: the Bicycle Hotel (locally translated to Sykkel Hotell), a 5000 sq.m. centerpiece for travelers in two wheels designed by Various Architects from Oslo.
It lets you store bikes for a nominal fee (around ~$7+ monthly), and not outside but indoors with a roof over its, er, seat.
What’s more, not only is biking a great way to travel, but many people apparently agree: Bike hotels like the Sykkel are being commissioned by the Norwegian National Railways as a public space, and have been popping up near railway stations all over the place.
But it’s not just a bike storage container of a structure, it actually is cozy and a friendly place. The building uses beautiful, transparent glass walls, a rooftop that enjoys sloping ramps and benches that allows comfortable sitting for guests and the public to enjoy the view, with an indoor space that wasn’t made as an afterthought and instead features energy-efficient mechanisms with space that fills with natural light during the day with gaps in the glass panels to augment natural ventilation.
When your needs go beyond bicycles for fitness, and enter the realm of traveling yet still maintaining the affinity for cycles, there are many incarnations of biking and strange, wonderful variants to the age-old bliss of a bike ride.
All you have to do is look, and while you’re likely going to quickly find what you want for your bike-riding pleasure online, if you stick around a bit longer, you’re also bound to discover a wealth of unique concepts that will open your mind to nice twists and whole new experiences.