The latest news coming out of the wacky, wild, and world-dominating land of IKEA? The solar-happy home furnishings retailer — the largest in the world, by the way — has its sights set on boutique hotels.
Now that the Allen wrench-worshipping overlords within the property division of Inter IKEA Group — the Netherlands-based entity that owns the intellectual assets of the Swedish retailer — have neighborhood development in the bag, the next logical step appears to be unleashing a chain of 100 high-design, low-cost hotels across Europe including Poland, Germany, the U.K., Belgium, the Netherlands, and the motherland of Scandinavia (but not where cheap, IKEA-centric overnight accommodations are really needed). This all comes at around the same time that the exact fortune of the family-run company's reclusive 86-year-old founder, Ingvar Kamprad, was made public: He's worth $39 billion.
Weary travelers willing to pay $150 per night for the thrill of switching off a bedside LAMPAN that's sitting atop a MALM night table while they're cozied up in a HEMNES bed eating lingonberry jam straight from the jar, should be aware that the hotels won’t be some sort of Ramada/IKEA showroom hybrid. Harald Müller, a business manager for Inter IKEA Group's property division, tells the Associated Press that while the hotels will indeed carry on the company’s tradition of "good quality at a reasonable price," guests bunking at one of the hotels "won't really recognize IKEA in it at all."
So no, the hostelries will not be outfitted top to bottom with IKEA furnishings or sport the IKEA name in any form. Nor will they offer guests a delicious .99 cent hot breakfast or feature a giant crèche complete with ball pit in the lobby. The Gideon's Bible won't be replaced with a you-know-what and Anna won't be reassigned from Helpbot to hotel concierge. A shame, really.
In fact, although IKEA will maintain ownership of the properties, they’ll pass off the responsibility of operating the hotels to another yet-to-be-named hospitality management company in the 1 billion euro move.
It’s also worth noting that there is indeed already one IKEA-owned hotel in existence and it does features IKEA furnishings and décor: The 140-room Golden Tulip Group-operated Tulip Inn located near the IKEA Concept Center in the Dutch city of Delft. This, of course, leads me to ponder the potential for other hotel chain/furniture store collaborations: A Red Roof Inn/Raymour & Flanigan mash-up near the Newark airport? Holiday Day Inn Express meets CB2 in the Chicago burbs? The Ethan Allen Hilton?