Container Hotel Ipoh - nice design but lacks good management

I did not study design at school, but I am interested in it to see how people design products and services, especially when travelling.

Staying in a design hotel is a part of it, and Container Hotel in Ipoh, Malaysia was the recent experience. To admit that the hotel does have a great design in terms of facilities and style, but it still depends on how people treat it. People who manage and work there play a critical role as designers.


Think about a container

Container Hotel is a hotel group in Malaysia. They are located in the city of Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Ipoh. They also serve travellers arriving at KLIA2, the LCC terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. 

I am impressed by the name of the brand. 'Container' reveals the fact that we are living in a container, like a house or a room. The hotel group can even imagine more, a camp site, a pod, a capsule like a shipping container.

What can we do in a container? Can we still live well in a capsule? Visiting their hotels can give you some answers.



Great capsule design

The capsule design is not something new nowadays. To provide a budget price while maintaining privacy and creating more comfortable living space, more and more hostels and hotels are applying the concept. But there are still things to learn from Container Hotel Ipoh.

  • Each pod has a fan to ensure ventilation. This is what most hostels fail to offer so that you will always feel hot inside even the temperature of the air conditioner outside is set very very low.
  • A small foldable desk is good for placing some of my personal belongings when I need very often, so that I don't need to put all my things into the locker. A mirror is useful for make-up before going out.
  • I am very happy with having a window in a pod! You know it can allow sunlight coming in and also let me see outside. I spent my time not only sleeping and also reading books in my pod.

Each traveller has a security card to access the guest-only area, open his or her locker and turn on the light. The smart design aims to offer safety and convenience.

Overall design is good. However, designers can't predict how guests feel when they design the capsule. People who manage there should make the place better in case they notice something.

  • Some guests like me don't know how to open and close the lockers. We need to ask the staff for help to understand how it works. Management team or the staff can add an instruction beside the lockers, and even report to the design team to make it easier to use.
  • The wall card slot is located at the entrance of the pod that can be easily stolen by strangers, and thus the valuable belongings in the locker.
  • Too cold inside! There are so many comments on the hotel booking websites, and the staff have to address the problem.
  • There are guests who speak too loudly, and the staff should add a reminder about it.



Public area: a bit fun but can also be more meaningful

Public space is also important in contributing to staying experience in both hostels and hotels. It can serve as an information centre by providing free maps and leaflets and allowing guests to seek advices from staff; it can be a place to meet new friends. Hostels usually make good use of it, and some of them organize tours and workshops for travellers to engage in a local community more.

Container Hotel Ipoh has a comfortable space with a playground slide to make it fun. Maybe it is a hotel which doesn't need to be the same as hostel to encourage more interaction between customers, but at least it fails to provide some basic travel information, i.e. town map and transport, unless you ask. Some of the comments stated that some staff were unwelcoming.



Amenities, consistency and more...

A bag of amenities with a towel and a bottle of water is offered when a guest checks in. Shower gel and shampoo is provided in the shared bathroom. There are hair dryers but all of them have been broken! Seems that they are not addressing the issue as comments a few months ago have raised the problem already. Like other hostels and hotels, there is free WiFi.

I experienced inconsistent staff performance during the stay. I didn't get the bag until I asked. I asked the WiFi and they only gave me the ground floor one in which the password was not needed, until I asked them another one (located in other positions) after I faced some connection problems. The WiFi here sucked: Facebook and Google were well connected while Evernote and Flipboard could not be accessed.

What can the hotel group do more?

After the stay, I can feel that designers were working hard to create comfortable living space. But staff and management are also important in contributing to a good staying experience among guests. Great design of the living space is just the start!

  • Staff here should be more care about everything, including the needs of the customers. The 24/7 reception not only allows guests to check in anytime, but can offer medical assistance in case of emergency, for example.
  • The staff and even the management team are responsible for ensuring things working well all the time. WiFi connection and hair dryer.
  • They should make good use of the facilities created by designers, i.e., utilise the space with travel information, holding workshops and activities to allow guests to connect both travellers and locals.
  • Consistency: don't forget to provide amenity kit to some of your guests.

That is why so many people like staying in hostels rather than hotels: not only saving a lot of money, but also feeling warm even without a good design of space and facilities! Hardware is not enough to differentiate between hostel and hotel.

Container Hotel Ipoh


Container Hotel Ipoh is situated near to the train station. It is also walkable to the old town.

Address | 89-91, Jalan Sultan Yussuf, 30000 Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia