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With chic and compact rooms, CitizenM is bringing 'affordable luxury' to a city near you

Jan. 30, 2022
8 min read
hotel lobby with tables, bar and winding wooden staircase
With chic and compact rooms, CitizenM is bringing 'affordable luxury' to a city near you
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If there's one thing I love, it's an unconventional hotel. You know, those hotels that are breaking the mold of what a hotel has traditionally been and goes beyond being a place to simply rest your head or have a meal. I live for hotels that incorporate art, culture and a sense of belonging and community into its ethos — the kind of hotel that makes you say, "Wow, this is special. I can't wait to come back."

CitizenM, a Dutch hotel brand that seems to be popping up everywhere from Taipei to Miami to Glasgow, Scotland, is exactly that.

The first time I entered a CitizenM hotel I was in New York City's Lower East Side. Hopping off the J train at the Bowery stop each day on my old work commute, I watched over time as a massive new building popped up, eventually learning it would be the CitizenM Bowery hotel.

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Once it finally opened and I entered the first time, I was instantly captivated.

(Photo courtesy of CitizenM)

The main-floor lobby looked down into a massive communal area (I later learned it's called the living room) with a huge wall filled with fun, colorful art and shelves showcasing random and intriguing knickknacks and books. Couches, communal tables and even a stadium-style seating area climbing up the room were available for people to lounge on cushions while reading or working on their laptops. A dramatic curved staircase led guests and locals down into the space, revealing a bar hidden beneath the reception area. To me, it was everything, and I felt like I'd found a new home (or, at least, a space I wish was my home).

That's all by design, according to Robin Chadha, CitizenM's chief marketing officer.

"CitizenM’s purpose from the very beginning was to disrupt the traditional hotel industry and create 'affordable luxury for the people,'" Chadha told TPG via email. "We set ourselves apart through our positioning, unique design, innovative technology, branding and our genuine human service. Our living rooms are designed to feel like home — full of luxurious Vitra furniture, countless coffee table books, styling items and colorful surprises to elevate and inspire."

Related: TPG’s most anticipated hotel openings of 2022

I can say with certainty that the living room is inspiring and luxurious in the coolest way. The real kicker with CitizenM, though, is that when the company says "affordable luxury," it means it. Rooms at CitizenM are consistently affordable, with rates at both NYC locations starting at $99 per night — a steal for the Big Apple.

(Photo courtesy of CitizenM)

"'Affordable luxury for the people' has been our mantra from the very beginning, since the first hotel opened in 2008," Chadha said. "We noticed back then that there was this group of worldly and well-traveled people who knew exactly what they were looking for in a hotel — and what they weren’t — and we wanted to create a brand that answered their needs brilliantly."

That guest, as Chadha explained, was someone "who wore Zara with a Chanel bag or a Gap T-shirt with a Rolex watch," inspiring the company to create a network of affordable, centrally located hotels in the world's most inspiring cities.

"[CitizenM is] not just a place to sleep, but somewhere to work, relax and play — just like home," Chadha added.

At this point, you're probably thinking there has to be a catch. How can such a design-forward hotel brand with central locations around the world be "affordable"? Part of that answer is simple: CitizenM only has one type of compact room that fits up to two guests, and it's essentially recreated across all of its properties around the world.

The rooms are small and narrow — that's a fact — but they're fun and highly functional. Beds are the entire width of the room and usually pushed all the way back against massive windows that beautifully frame the destination. (Need proof? Just search #CitizenM on Instagram.) Large TVs are placed on the wall above the bed, while pullout storage under the bed is designed to hide luggage and eliminate clutter. A small desk and chair provide a simple place to work, if needed, and a closet near the door gets the job done.

In the middle of the room, guests will find a toilet and a shower tucked away behind an opaque wall that helps form a hallway of sorts and curves into the room. A small vanity with a sink is exposed in the room. This bathroom style isn't for everyone, but with all of the rooms designed with one bed, chances are you'll be sharing the space with someone close enough it won't really matter.

(Photo courtesy of CitizenM)

A tech-forward room, a smart tablet called the "MoodPad" controls the temperature, blinds and lights that can change between different colors. It also serves as the TV remote, which offers a free movie library and the option to connect your phone via Wi-Fi to play music.

All in all, the rooms (and the hotel as a whole) serve a comfortable consistency that travelers can expect and count on, whether they're getting lost in the hills of San Francisco or the vintage shops of London's Shoreditch neighborhood. What's beyond the confines of the hotel can be a mystery for travelers — and that's the point of travel, right? — but when swiping into a CitizenM hotel room, the only mystery is what color to set the mood lighting.

"Our guests have come to know and love CitizenM for our designer living rooms, unique artwork, beds with huge windows showcasing each city’s views, helpful and friendly ambassadors, easy-to-use tech — the list goes on — and that is what we deliver with each property, no matter the location," Chadha said.

Now, 14 years after the first CitizenM hotel opened in Amsterdam, the company is quickly opening new locations around the world, including the fourth outpost in London this year, plus fifth locations in London and Paris and the first in Rome in 2023.

It's also doubling down on expanding in the U.S., with two properties opening this year in Miami and more in Seattle, Chicago and Washington, D.C. Next year, CitizenM will open more locations in Miami, Boston, Austin and at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

"Within the first 10 years, CitizenM had opened 13 hotels. Today, the portfolio boasts 24 hotels in 16 cities, with more to come in 2022 and beyond. Guests have grown to love CitizenM, and we feel there is so much opportunity for growth," Chadha said, adding that the brand's goal is to have 40 hotels open by 2024.

Renderings of upcoming Miami properties. (Renderings courtesy of CitizenM)

"We believe in multiple hotels in cities — for example, we now have four hotels open in Paris with two more on the way. We look at both real estate returns, the macro and micro trends in the city, and to what extent our customers are traveling to — or living in — those cities."

CitizenM is growing a loyal following thanks to its forward-thinking approach, incorporating smart technology, efficient room design and quick and easy automated check-in processes. The brand doesn't have a loyalty program, but during the pandemic, it did launch a special fixed-rate program for people who were using the sudden flexibility of the situation to work from destinations other than their homes. It also has a special corporate subscription package for companies.

"As an innovative brand, we’re always thinking ahead and looking to make improvements in everything we do, so we’ve been busy working on a new subscription package that will launch in the coming months," Chadha explained.

Ultimately, CitizenM is a brand that's not only weathered the pandemic but used the moment to innovate and push itself further. "One of the keys to ensuring continued success is adaptability, which is something we pride ourselves in," Chadha said, adding that it will continue to use data and technology to help deliver the trends and experiences guests want — or don't even know they want yet — in a seamless way that lets the hotel still feel like home.

"Most importantly," Chadha explained, "we offer our guests the freedom to choose to spend their time as they wish. We want them to feel at home from the moment they enter, by removing any points of friction. We see ourselves at the forefront of a movement to give guests more autonomy in their travels and freedom within our hotels."

Featured image by Jeroen C. van Zijp
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases