A new concept from Hyundai is set to offer UK holidaymakers, what the Korean brand is calling, “a truly unique off grid experience” for their vacation.
The ‘Hotel Hyundai’ concept was recently launched as a 14-day pilot scheme in Epping Forest, England, and will be erected between October 19 and November 5. Marketed as “the world’s first car-powered hotel,” power to the three-part venue is said to be drawn exclusively from a fleet of Ioniq 5s courtesy of the all-electric SUV’s Vehicle-to-Load (V2L) system. Each example, equipped with, presumably, Hyundai’s largest 77.4 kWh lithium-ion battery and adapters, effectively act as a generator into which domestic appliances can be plugged. Essentially like a large, driveable, three-pin outlet.
As Hyundai’s UK managing director Ashley Andrews explains, “the whole experience demonstrates the practicality of this pioneering technology, and [they] hope the concept inspires more people to go off grid.”
The ‘hotel’ features a guest suite, complete with individual lighting, a shower and tea/coffee-making facilities, and a bar and BBQ restaurant area, the latter of which also features a conjoined Coffee Lounge complete with Ioniq 5-powered espresso machines. Perhaps most intriguing is the on-site cinema, which features a car-powered projector, a surround sound speaker system, and even a popcorn maker.
The “luxury boutique” is said to have been inspired by the UK’s recent cost of living crisis. As well as potentially pushing more UK motorists into EVs, higher energy bills, according to a recent Hyundai UK survey, has also led to more than half of the 2,000 holidaymakers polled (55 per cent) reconsidering their vacation plans, with travel in the UK cited as a stress-free alternative that also supports local businesses.
Though Hyundai will be offering one-night stays to 14 competition winners this month and next, it has not been stated whether the concept will be revived for 2023. It should also be noted that Hotel Hyundai can only cater to a maximum of two guests at a time.
What do we think? Read on…
Be honest. Be brutally honest now. It’s a bit ridiculous, isn’t it.
Given that electric vehicles, or at least second-life batteries, have been used to power rickshaws, a motor racing garage, and even an island by one brand or another over the last decade, it was surely just a matter of time before a car-powered-hotel surfaced. Well… ‘hotel’ is the loosest sense of the word, anyway.
Aimed squarely at the ‘glamping’ brigade (only two guests at one time by definition makes it exclusive), Hyundai’s off-the-grid experience, understandably, focuses on sustainable luxury, offering as it does everything from 200 acres of “ancient farmland” to explore to a private chef and a mixologist on standby, through to a breakfast hamper awaiting you in the morning and a three-course, “open fire” dinner curated by the UK’s Grace Dent. Who, incidentally, is also the long-standing restaurant critic for The Guardian newspaper, and a semi-regular on Master Chef.
“Luxury.” “Unique.” “Romantic.” And just a hint of celebrity cachet too. Clever. Very clever.
That Hyundai has, rather shrewdly, focused on the sustainable side of this concept, offering one-night stays for competition entrants (most of whom, we cynically assume, will have blue ticks and verified badges in abundance), handily circumvents questions about the overall price for such a “luxe wooden cabin” experience and the number of Ioniqs required for the venture. That said fleet will also need to be recharged after each guest departs, and probably serviced after the two weeks are up, does knock that “off grid” message just a bit, doesn’t it?
And yet, we’re intrigued. One could easily see for example the open-fire restaurant and “under the stars” cinema experience being replicated in an abundance of similarly remote areas across North America, where, incidentally, Hyundai is keen to stretch the legs of its all-electric range. ‘Glamping’ enthusiasts and social media… ahem… ‘influencers’ are rarely shy about sampling a new “unique” experience either, nor indeed are local businesses likely to scoff at a potential long-running relationship with a major manufacturer. Indeed, one can easily see the likes of Polestar and/or Mercedes, also keen to promote their respective EV ranges, jumping on this particular bandwagon should customer interest be high enough.
As an idea then, the slightly dubiously-named ‘Hotel’ Hyundai is niche, a little cloying, and more than a few holes can be picked in the sustainability theme too (quite aside from recharging the Ioniqs, a 10-minute drive is needed to get to the site in the first place). But as an experience, designed to cater to social media ‘gurus’ and promote electric propulsion in an, if not “unique” then certainly different, way, it’s a bold approach from Hyundai. One we applaud through slightly gritted teeth.