Photo by Quang Dam
Photo by Daniel John Bilsborough
Off-the-grid Contained Hotel pops up in different places around Sydney, Melbourne, and Victoria in Australia.
These eco-chic hotels, hostels, and pop-ups mix modern design, tiny house living, and a sustainable ethos.
Old is new again—that’s the refrain reverberating through the metal walls of the shipping container hotels sprouting up all around the world. This trend doesn’t rely solely on coats of paint, but instead hinges on an architectural transformation that turns rusty rubble into sleek, environmentally friendly accommodations. Here, ten shipping container hotels that weld high-end aesthetics with a commitment to sustainability.
Nha Trang, Vietnam
Inspired by cabins on upscale trains, CCASA Hostel blends reused materials with an industrial design aesthetic for a polished, eco-conscious stay. Intricate patterned tiles, wood, and cement details run throughout the space, from the bed frames in the compact rooms to the walls of the shared bathroom, while suspended catwalks connect the stacked, primary-color containers to the rest of the hostel. Guests gather and engage in the lively tree-filled communal area and bar, or lounge in the rope hammocks on the rooftop terrace. Dorm beds from $6, private rooms from $21
Sitting 7,200 feet high in the Caucasus Mountains, Quadrum Ski and Yoga Resort is a rustic industrial boutique getaway built with locally sourced materials. Dark wood and metal details accent the neutral interior tones of the cozy, insulated recycled shipping containers, which have sliding glass doors and eye-popping mountain views. There are whirlpool tubs in some of the modern en suite bathrooms, and the Gudauri Resort ski lifts are only a five-minute walk away. From $150
Round Top, Texas
Sustainably crafted using artifacts the owner gathered in his world travels, Flophouze Hotel ties green design to an eclectic glamping vibe. The overhauled containers incorporate lumber from a distillery and windows from a schoolhouse, and inside, the countertops are made from old bowling lanes and the refurbished cabinetry once belonged to an FDA lab. There are record players and vintage vinyl in the vibrant, pet-friendly bungalows, and guests often gather around the communal fire pits or in hammocks strung up between the rooms to watch the sunset. There’s also an electric vehicle charging station and an aboveground shipping container pool. From $175
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Contained’s off-the-grid, pop-up container hotels are designed for sustainable travel and have appeared in Melbourne, Sydney, and Victoria. The self-sufficient, solar-powered units feature trendy neutrals, natural light, and metal and wood accents, as well as a fold-out awning and deck for a glamping-esque experience. For certain installations, Contained builds pools, rain barrels, and wood stoves to accompany the containers, which can be installed as single units or in small groups. Availability and location vary for this pop-up, so be sure to check the website. From $220
The lines between art, nature, and sustainability blur at Alterra Glamping, a recycled container hotel built next to a long-established art gallery. The site comprises two units in fun colors, both positioned so as to not damage the serene surrounding forest. Each minimalist room is awash in soft neutrals and boasts floor-to-ceiling windows; some have jetted tubs and kitchenettes. Here, glamping turns green with energy-saving lighting and thermal insulation, and art continues to thrive in the on-site gallery and workshop. From $85
The Dock Inn is a 40-foot-high zigzag of mostly solar-powered containers that cuts through a shipyard in Warnemünde, Germany. Opened in 2017, it is the first luxury hostel in Germany made of recycled sea containers. All rooms boast shipyard views out of large glass windows or balcony doors, and polished concrete, exposed ductwork, and splashes of color enhance the funky feel. Some suites feature record players, electric guitars with amplifiers, and kitchenettes. The hostel building also houses a movie theater, rooftop sauna, climbing wall, bar, and iMac workstations, where locals and guests mingle in a breezy community atmosphere. Dorm beds from $22, private rooms from $112
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Saugerties, New York
Going off the grid has never looked as good as the solar-powered, pet-friendly Container Cabin in the Catskills. Constructed by Contanium, an upcycling-focused design and construction workshop, the 20-foot recycled shipping container sits on a 20-acre plot of land on the eastern edge of the Catskill Mountains. The rustic nook features wood paneling and cozy neutrals throughout, as well as a wood stove, record player, and kitchenette. The pine bathroom with solar shower and composting toilet is situated 40 feet away. There’s no Wi-Fi or air-conditioning. Spend your time hiking the trails, streams, and waterfalls, and—when the stream is running—relaxing in the wood-fired hot tub. From $195
The transportable, two-story ContainHotel has popped up all around the Czech Republic, including at a popular surf site and a busy railway station, but lately has been stationed at Třeboutice on the banks of the Elbe River. Designed to be as self-sufficient and eco-friendly as possible, it includes a built-in water reservoir for the showers and sinks, water-saving taps, and waterless toilets. With an exterior of reclaimed wood from a Czech sawmill and bright blue lacquer, the hotel consists of three stacked containers. The lower two containers house bathrooms, and the 40-foot-long container perched on top is filled with four modest, contemporary rooms with full-length windows. The container’s shared terrace offers expansive views wherever it pops up. Because the hotel location can change, it’s not always open for travelers, so be sure to check the website and social media accounts for updates. From $23
The fiery red recycled containers of the eco-friendly Farm Ville Café and Homestay are surrounded by the verdant Sekinchan paddy fields and often see awesome sunsets. The snug rooms are minimal, with wood paneling or faux grass walls, and feature attached bathrooms. There are bikes available on the property to rent, so guests can go green while exploring the local temples, orchards, and wharf. Outside the container rooms, white-and-green-checkered floors lead to a pool, rooftop trampoline, and putting green. From $24
The all-in-one container hotel Sleeping Around was inspired by retail pop-ups. The group of 20-foot sea containers, originally left on the shores of Antwerp to rust, were repurposed using only environmentally responsible materials and now crop up in scenic areas around Belgium. Featuring crisp, minimalist designs and a wall of floor-to-ceiling glass doors, the small rooms make efficient use of their space with floating box-spring beds that allow for underneath storage and movable, compact ottoman seats. The Sleeping Around team has even managed to fit full en suite bathrooms in each room. You’ll need to double-check availability and location since this hotel is a mobile pop-up. From $170
>>Next: 15 U.S. Hotels That Used to Be Something Completely Different
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