Tired Londoners rent sleep pods for some zzz's

LONDON (Reuters) - Exhausted Londoners hoping to take a rest from their busy schedules are being offered an alternative to coffee breaks: a sleep pod where they can grab some shut-eye for £15 ($20) an hour.

Inspired by Japanese capsule hotels, Pop & Rest in London’s trendy Shoreditch area boasts four “sleep pods” – rooms with dark walls and a lavender aroma to aid relaxation, each supplied with ear plugs and an eye mask.

Mauricio Villamizar, 28, said he and his Pop & Rest co-founder Yoann Demont came up with the idea for their venture after observing Londoners’ hectic lifestyle and long working hours.

“You could see they were tired all the time and just with coffee and tea wasn’t enough, so we thought we should set up something like a private space where they can relax in peace,” he said.

According to Villamizar, Pop & Rest currently averages between 30-35 customers a week, among them many freelancers and people working in the gig economy.

Graeme Daniel is a director of a fashion company and has visited Pop & Rest several times since it opened in June this year.

The 58-year-old says that the pods are helpful to catch up on sleep after a late night followed by a busy working day.

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“If I go out late in the evening and I’ve got maybe meetings spread throughout the day, it’s just nice to have one hour catch up on the sleep that I’ve probably missed the night before,” he said.

“What can you get for 15 pounds in Central London, you know, you have a lunch… So 15 pounds to have a decent rest and clear mind for the afternoon or for a meeting late on in the day is perfect as far as I’m concerned,” he added.

Designer Dan Andrews, 30, works near Pop & Rest and says the pods offer him a chance to meditate.

“Even if you try and take that time to meditate or be mindful on a park bench or in the corner of the office or anywhere it’s just really hard to get that disconnection,” he said.

Andrews has visited the pods up to four times since June, and believes the cost to nap is “fair”.

“It’s good, if you think about the cost of your mental health and your sanity,” he said.

Villamizar says he aims to ‘flood’ the city with sleep pods, eventually expanding to other UK cities and across Europe.

(This version of the story was refiled to remove an extraneous word in paragraph 10)

Reporting by Helena Williams; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky