Focus On: Shipping Container Hotels

by Kathleen Donohoe

The world has begun an obsession with shipping containers as modified pieces of accommodation – and this has gradually extended out to include shipping container hotels. From small boutique rooms only made of one shipping container, to massive hotel structures, shipping container hotels are becoming more mainstream as property developers realise that using shipping containers to build saves on the two most important aspects – time and money. The enormous array of modification options available and the uncanny ability of forward thinking designers show that the humble shipping container can be transformed into a thing of modern beauty, while still encompassing all the standard and luxe hotel features. Below we’ve put together a list of hotels all over the world that highlight these great elements in all their grandeur.


This Holiday Inn at Trafford City in Manchester was one of the first hotels to be built using a special type of construction – Volumetric Modular Construction, based on shipping containers. Each container was completed off-site separately, and then taken to site to be assembled – and the entire assembly was completed in under a month. The architects (Chapman Taylor firm) and the main contractors (Bowmer & Kirkland) worked together from the very beginning investigating module options, using a BIM model in a very detailed design to enable everything to be fabricated off site; and indeed this process paid off as all 220 guest rooms with interior furniture, fixtures & fittings, carpet, curtains, wallpaper and floor to ceiling windows were stacked and assembled on their arrival to site, saving a ridiculous amount of time on traditional construction.

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Brought to life to house Olympic Security personnel during the London Olympics, the Snoozebox Container Hotel popped up quite simply to house guests at a moments notice. Each room has a double bed and adjacent bunk beds, with feature drawers, storage, Wi-Fi, flat screen televisions, a safe and a private shower and toilet. They have configurations that vary from forty to four hundred rooms, depending on what the client orders and can be transported via truck straight away, as packing or unpacking these containers takes less than 48 hours. Other options are also available to be included in with these hotels – like courtyards, balconies, restaurants and bar containers.

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Although oozing 5-star luxury on the inside of each container with traditional Chinese décor, this hotel was designed to look like a standard drab shipping container village from the outside. Located in a rural region just outside the city of Changzhi, these containers have been transformed by the Tonghe Shanzi Landscape Design company into an extravagant getaway. Each room in this boutique hotel is either 50 or 100 feet square feet – all with the highest quality furniture including sofas, fixtures and bedding, and traditional lantern. The lobby and restaurant are also made from shipping containers – and the entire thing only took three months to design AND install!

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When miners in the driest and sunniest places on Earth – the inhospitable Atacama Desert – needed a shelter for sleeping and downtime, AATA Architects designed a low cost, large apartment complex from shipping containers, draping a canvas over it as a roof. Each container was pre-fabricated off site and then placed in a ‘C’ formation to allow natural light and blocks extreme temperatures during hot days and cold nights. Each container has been able to grow a patch of grass providing the area with a micro-climate where it was previously unable.

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And there we have just a small selection of unique and unusual shipping containers that have been modified in different ways to create hotels – if you have any modification ideas for your shipping container, big or small, Container Traders can help you organise it all! Just call the friendly team on 1300 89 89 70.