Japanese retailer Muji has announced a venture into the hotel industry in China and Japan.

Muji, known for its stationery and homeware products, has announced the launch of two hotels in Shenzhen and Beijing. It also expects to launch a hotel in Tokyo in 2019. The Shenzhen hotel, which opens on January 18, will feature a diner, a library and a gym as well as two Muji stores. In March, the Beijing hotel will open with a café, a bookshop and a Muji store.

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Muji Hotel Shenzhen. Image credit: Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.
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Image credit: Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.
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Image credit: Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.

The hotels reflect the minimalist aesthetic of the brand and promise an affordable stay, with rooms starting at $145 a night. Muji’s website states: “There are neither exorbitantly priced and superfluent services nor dreary guest rooms resulting from the extreme reduction of quality.”

Various other retailers are taking the plunge and moving into hospitality. In 2016, Ikea opened a hotel in Älmhult, Sweden, which takes a minimalist approach similar to that of Muji. The Ikea website says that, while the hotel is in many ways “just like any other” there is an added “feeling of home” to enhance stays.

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Image credit: Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.
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Image credit: Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.
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Image credit: Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.

As mentioned in our Future 100 report, British retailer John Lewis invited customers to spend the night in its Oxford Street store. An apartment was set up in the store and visitors were given private use of the space from 6.30pm until 9am the next day. They were also given an hour of private shopping time and the opportunity to book a dinner party catered by John Lewis.

Luxury retailer Gucci, which has already launched a hotel in Dubai, is exploring other hospitality options. The fashion brand recently opened Gucci Garden, a three-story space in Florence, Italy, that features a museum, a boutique and a restaurant led by three-Michelin-star chef Massimo Bottura.

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Gucci Osteria

Yotel, launched by Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe, is also expanding its offering and has announced a move into extended stays with YotelPad. The first luxury compact homes will open in Park City, Utah, and Miami—visitors will have access to amenities such as a 24/7 gym, a home cinema and a library. According to brand vice president Jo Berrington, they aim to “transcend traditional boundaries with a blend of hotel-quality standards and home-like comforts.”

As consumers spend more on experiences and less on material items, brands are finding new ways to pique their interest and bring them into stores. There is an opportunity for all kinds of retailers, from luxury fashion purveyors to homeware brands, to move into the hospitality space.