CitizenM: Categorising the Uncategorised

CitizenM Lobby

Travel websites rank hotels based on categorised features that would allow readers to pick a hotel based on various preferences. For example, one can search for the best family-friendly hotel or pet-friendly hotel. These features vary from a website to another; from a category that is important to travellers such as service to a category that is specific like serving halal food.

As a result, this diverges from the traditional way of ranking hotels which uses the classic 5 star rating that is given to a hotel from well known institutions. The divergence results in not having one best hotel or similar top hotels, but instead a best hotel that is based on a certain feature.

This modern way which websites use to rank hotels is by far a much better process since it is similar to how travellers actually rank hotels.

For example, one question that travellers’ currently ask; what is the best mid-budget hotel in London that is near Edgware Road and the Hyde Park. In other words, the traveler is searching for the best ranked hotel that is categorised under “Traditional Kuwaiti London Lifestyle”. The result of such a search would be Cumberland Hotel.

Another example of a such a categorisation that can be even more specific would be what is the best Dubai Sea-side hotel that has the best service but is not crowded like other sea-side Hotels during seasons; resulting in Ritz-Carlton.

The modern categorisation that is available in travel websites do have the ability to show   such ranking which is something that is very helpful for travellers. However, this specific categorisation would leave one of the best hotels in the world out of any top ranked hotel that falls within these categorisation.

CitizenM is one of the best hotels “period”. However, if categorised it will not be the best.

The hotel which uses the terms “non-conformist” and “transformational” to describe itself, started from a revolutionary concept that opposed the traditional standards set by hotel industry. From the start, the founder wanted the hotel to be called “One Star Hotel” to break the industry’s mould that have long been forcing conventions on the whats and hows of hotel operation.

In terms of location (European branches), two are located near airports and the rest are not central (except for Glasgow’s). Thus, it will not be a hotel at the top of any list where location is searched for. Even the airport ones are not well located for travellers. Thus, it will never be mentioned under a categorisation that considers location.

In terms of service, the hotel’s concept has a self-service check in and check-out. A self service diner/bar where its up for the person to charge what has been bought. It also doesn’t have neither a traditional concierge nor a laundry service. Thus, it is  a hotel that will not make a list of best service hotel.

In terms of the room, it is small with a tiny bathroom and a non-existing storage area. There is no iron board in the room. The ironing is part of a communal area. Again, this makes it not be part of any category that considers good rooms.

In terms of price, at the rates given, one can find hotels with bigger rooms, more services, and much better facilities.

Taking all of this into account one should conclude that it is a really bad hotel. Yet, it is not. It is one of the best hotels “period”.

The hotel has something about it that makes a person not stay anywhere else. This is a guarantee: a single stay at any of its branches will lead to staying multiple times at any of its different locations without considering any of the traveler’s preferences and necessities.

This blog post questions why that is the case. How can a hotel that is expensive, with a not great location, small room, and weak services be the best hotel?

There will be no answer, unless the whole view of category based hotels is abandoned.  CitizenM cannot be categorised and should not be categorised. It is an experience hotel. What travellers will get from the hotel is an experience similar to the experiences one gets when visiting traveling landmarks. In other words, people travel to shop, visit museums, experience different adventures such as sky-diving or bungee-jumping. To that list of experiences, citizenM should be added.

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