Solo travelers to Whistler, listen up. British Columbia’s top destination for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and all sorts of outdoor adventures, has a new place to sleep.
It’s the first pod hotel to open in Canada.
What’s a pod hotel, you might ask?
Modeled on Japan’s capsule hotels, where you sleep in a private self-contained compartment, Whistler’s Pangea Pod Hotel, which opened in 2018, gives you a well-designed place to bunk for the night, along with high-tech amenities and fun common spaces for hanging out, all in a central location for a moderate price. As long as you don’t need to stand up where you sleep, it’s a cool accommodations option.
Here’s the scoop:
The Pangea Pod Story
Russell and Jelena Kling, the husband and wife team behind Pangea Pod Hotel, backpacked around the world before settling down in Whistler, and they’ve clearly drawn on their own travel experiences in designing the pod hotel. It’s essentially an upscale hostel, but with more private sleeping areas and loads more style.
The sleeping pods are each slightly larger than a double mattress, with upper and lower units stacked like berths on a train. There’s enough space for most people to sit up or to stretch out lying down, but not to stand.
While it’s possible for couples to share a pod if you make a double reservation in advance, the pods would be cozy — read “cramped” — for two and are better suited to solo travelers. And the hotel specifically forbids you from bringing a partner into your pod without prior arrangement; the pods are not fully sound-proofed, and as the hotel’s FAQ says, “you wouldn’t want to make your fellow guests feel awkward anyway.”
In each pod, in addition to the comfortable mattress with good quality linens, there’s a small wooden cabinet for locking your valuables, which can hold a laptop and other small electronics, a row of wall hooks to hang jackets and towels, several hangers for your other clothes, and space for storing your luggage, with chains attached to the wall that you can use to lock up your bags.
Each pod has electrical and USB outlets; the complimentary Wi-Fi worked well throughout the building. Fans built into each pod help with air circulation and generate white noise that masks sound.
The pods are grouped into suites, with each suite behind a locked door. You need a key — an electronic tab that’s attached to a wrist band — to enter each suite of pods, but the pods themselves don’t have doors or locks, just heavy curtains. One suite of pods is reserved for women only.
Each suite has several private toilet compartments and shower rooms. The facilities are modern and well thought out, with lots of hooks and shelves for holding your belongings. Each suite also has at least one sink with a makeup mirror in a common space.
Facilities and Services
On the floor below the sleeping pods, “The Living Room” is a combination restaurant, cafe, bar and general hangout space, with a mix of communal and individual tables, as well as a long counter with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Whistler’s Village Stroll, the main pedestrian walkway through the village.
The Living Room serves breakfast, light meals, and pizzas, as well as coffee, tea, and drinks. There’s a stack of board games to borrow, and at all hours, you’ll find people tapping away on their electronics or comparing notes on their day’s adventures.
If those adventures require gear — like skis, snowboards, and bikes — you don’t have to try to squeeze your stuff into your pod. The hotel has a gear room, dubbed “The Toy Box,” where you can store and lock up your equipment.
The Pangea Pod Hotel’s location couldn’t be more central, right in the center of the village, within a few minutes’ walk of the gondolas that take you up the mountain — for adventures like a walk across the Cloudraker Suspension Bridge, pictured above.
Pangea Pod clearly knows its primarily millennial target market, too. The hotel sends texts throughout your stay reminding you when happy hour starts, or when it’s time to check out, or just to see if you need anything.
Nightly rates for one person at the Pangea Pod Hotel start at about CAD$90, going up during both the winter and summer high seasons. It’s a unique option for cost-conscious travelers — at least if you don’t need to stand up in your sleeping quarters. You can try to get an even better rate through Hotels.com or Expedia.
Hotel feature by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Tourism Whistler, in partnership with Pangea Pod Hotel, arranged my stay for review purposes.