Sometimes it pays to think inside the box. A new breed of hotel takes that imperative to the max, in the form of luxury shipping-container accommodations known as Tiny Urban Escapes.
Tiny Urban Escapes (TUE) is the brainchild of owner/operator Robin Staten, based in Brownsburg, Indiana. Staten partnered with Glasshaus Living, an architecture firm from suburban Toronto, to create two shipping container hotel suites housed in a wooded area near Indianapolis’ Eagle Creek Park. These portable guest rooms include one queen bed, a kitchenette and bathroom, all encapsulated within a 20-by-8-ft. steel container with floor-to-ceiling windows. TUE’s suites are out of view from one another, but share a fire pit and an outdoor common area.
While conceptualizing TUE, her first hotel project, Staten says, “I originally wanted a space that served as a hideaway in the city. I fell in love with the tiny-home model, but not necessarily its wooden box-like features. I came across Glasshaus Living’s converted container designs and knew instantly that this framework would become my boutique hotel.” Staten commissioned Glasshaus to create the glass-walled structures of these modular guest rooms and she designed each of the key’s themed interiors.
Heiress Ivory (shown), the first container in the works, showcases a plush, minimal design with a white monochromatic palette. The Moroccan Manor suite is also slated to open this summer and will feature bold patterned textiles and elaborate light fixtures. Other rooms planned for the future will exhibit themes such as Emerald City, decorated with green jewel-tone elements; and King David’s Den, a masculine-style industrial space with metal accents. Staten sourced the guest rooms’ moveable furniture from local vendors and worked with contract manufacturers for other elements such as mattresses and en suite fixtures and plumbing.
An interior look at the Heiress Ivory suite. Image: Natasha Cannon, Cannon Styled Imagery
According to Glasshaus, the firm’s self-proclaimed “cargotecture” designs feel fresh because of their unconventional parameters. “We’ve found that utilizing a shipping container as a structure consistently evokes imagination and creative conversation,” says Glasshaus principal Laura Weil. Weil also notes that these shipping containers are constructed to last, as they’re made to withstand years on the ocean under a wide range of stresses.
Heiress Ivory bathroom. Photo: Natasha Cannon, Cannon Styled Imagery
Three additional suites for Indy are in the works and Staten plans to add five more outside of Nashville by next year. Rates start at $179 per night.