Ikea is looking to expand beyond bookcases and meatballs. According to new reports, the home retail giant known for its affordable build-it-yourself furniture will try its hand at hotels, and plans to open dozens across Europe in the near future. Here's what you should know:
What exactly is Ikea building?
Inter Ikea, the company that owns Ikea's intellectual property, is planning to open 100 "budget design" hotels abroad, which will feature a boutique look-and-feel at affordable prices. The company is looking to build them "in markets where it is already active in property, such as the UK, Netherlands, and Poland, as well as new markets such as Germany," expected site of the first two locations due to open in 2014, says Richard Milne at the Financial Times. However, the hotels reportedly won't use the Ikea name, and will be managed by an established hotelier in the industry. The hotel venture isn't Ikea's first foray into the lodging industry, says the Huffington Post. Ikea Norway revealed the Ikea Hostel in 2007, a place where weary shoppers could sleep overnight if they hadn't finished filling their carts. And the company is also mulling building student residences for colleges and universities across Europe, which would be a "good move considering its furniture is already a student staple," says the Daily Mail.
What will the hotels be like?
Details at this point are scant, but the company is reportedly choosing to eschew the familiar, budget-friendly beds, sofas, and other furniture available in its retail locations. "Will the hotel be organized like an Ikea store maze?" asks Melanie Nayer at Boston.com. "Will the hotel restaurant serve Swedish meatballs? Nothing has been set in stone, but the possibilities are endless." Aside from "good quality at a reasonable price," guests probably "won't really recognize the Ikea in it at all," Ikea development manager Harald Muller tells the Associated Press.
Budget-friendly, designer-chic hotels are one of the fastest growing segments of the industry, says the Daily Mail. Similar chains have already popped up across Europe to challenge incumbents like Travelodge: In Barcelona, there's the Chic & Basic Brand, and London has Base 2 Stay. In Germany, a brand called Motel One already has 39 hotels with 8,500 rooms in place. Property is just one of the ways Inter Ikea is looking to expand — the multi-armed company is already building a 27-acre affordable housing district just outside of London.