It seems that the flat-pack furniture and free pencil purveyor IKEA has copped a lot of flak for its branded hotels scheme, which is set to be rolled out in no less than 50 European locations in the next five years.
The chain, which involves a partnership with Marriott known to be known as Moxy Hotels, will open its first branch in Milan in 2014, and already I can’t hide my excitement. Here’s a little story which goes some way to explain…
Back when the Croydon branch was brand spanking new and ready to be unwrapped, I was one of several lucky families who got to try out being not-so-mystery shoppers, drafted in by the big chiefs to help the staff get to grips with the sales and refunds process. We traipsed up to Croydon and got to wander round the store, as well as being given a list of items to buy and to return. As a reward, our primary school got a lovely shiny IKEA voucher, and I was hooked on the heady smell of meatballs, hotdogs and pine wood, not to mention the promise of free tape measures and pencils.
Over the years, I’ve accessorised with the key items, from the stack of rainbow-coloured boxes and the fluffy cream rug to the wavy £9 mirror – heck, I could give the hotel’s interiors team an extensive ‘greatest hits’ collection. There’s something warm and reliable about an IKEA product, which could surely be translated to a hotel experience. Here are five reasons why I think it will work:
1. The brand is already associated with value – it’s second nature for people to suggest you should stock up there if you’re moving house, going to uni or having a baby, even if they know that money is tight. The leap to a good value hotel isn’t a massive one.
2. Whereas some cheap hotels sadly haven’t been decorated since the 1980s and may feature frilly curtains, brown carpets and questionable ‘artwork’, this company is all about simplicity, easy colour schemes and nothing too offensive, taste-wise. Oh, and their postcards and prints area in the store is really cool, so you just know they’ll have great taste in wall art (I love their £100 world map canvas).
3. How many times have you been in the bed section or lingered hopefully on the sofas and wished you could just nod off for a bit? Well, this is your chance, only you get a whole night, and then you can have breakfast and actually use the bathroom area instead of gazing longingly at the pristine sinks. Phwoar.
4. Because it’s such a household name, there’s a certain amount of trust associated with the brand, which will come in handy for students and young travellers whose overprotective parents are having nightmares about them sleeping in threadbare hostels across Europe and picking up bedbugs or hippy friends. “It’s ok, Mum, I’m staying at the new IKEA in Milan,” will see parents – and their children – sleeping easy. In fact, your child will probably come back with a great idea for shelving space or some drawer dividers.
5. There will probably be a Daim bar on the pillow when you arrive. It’s the little things.
Moxy Hotels, you know where to find me if you need anyone to test out the rooms, and I’d prefer the blue and white toile duvet cover from the current collection, if that narrows it down.