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February 24, 2011

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Home » Metro » Public Services

Capsule hotel refused license

THE city's first capsule hotel, near Shanghai Railway Station, has seen its chances of opening damaged as the Shanghai Fire Control Bureau has refused to grant it a license due to it not meeting fire-safety standards.

It could also be the last capsule hotel in Shanghai, as the bureau will not allow any similar hotels to open in the city due to the same safety concerns, a fire control official said.

Although the owner of the hotel on Zhongshan Road N. said the capsules were made of fire-proof materials, the latest inspection has discovered that they were actually made of fiber-reinforced plastics, a flammable material that would burn quickly.

Moreover, the extremely high density of people expected to be staying in the 300-square-meter hotel would make it difficult for firefighters to carry out rescue operations and to evacuate people if a fire occurred.

The capsules may also be insufficiently ventilated, which could mean occupants would be poisoned by a gas leak, officials said.

All of the findings point to fire hazards at the hotel meaning the authorities can not risk granting a license for such an unsafe building, especially since the November blaze on Jiaozhou Road that claimed 58 lives.

"Businessmen who are trying to introduce capsule hotels into the city should get the idea out of their heads," warned Zhou Meiliang, an official with the bureau.

As well as the inherent fire risks of the building, the concept of capsule hotels is not suitable for the city given that many Chinese people do not have a strong sense of fire safety.

Many people like to smoke in bed, ignoring anti-smoking regulations, which is also a safety concern, according to fire control experts.

The decision of the bureau has upset Ta Zan, owner of the hotel, but he believed it was too soon to say that the hotel would never open.

"It is not up to the fire control -bureau itself to decide whether the hotel will be barred from opening," said Ta,

Police and the health bureau have yet to approve the opening, said Ta, adding that the environment protection bureau has given him the go-ahead.

Ta said he is willing to make changes to solve the problems raised by authorities. He also said that the capsule hotel is a totally new idea to the city and no authorities have any prior experience of inspecting one.

"If the hotel is banned, I'll be disappointed by the city's resistance to new ideas," said Ta.

Ta has spent about 4 million yuan (US$608,230) on the hotel.

It opened to media and visitors in early January and attracted widespread publicity, but the 68-capsule hotel is yet to receive its first guest as it waits for the license which would allow it to provide accommodation.

Each capsule is 1.1 meters high, 1.1 meters wide and 2.2 meters long, and comes equipped with free Internet and a TV. One capsule costs 28 yuan (US$4.22) for the first hour, with each additional hour charged at 4 yuan. A 24-hour stay would cost 88 yuan.


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