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First Look: Muji’s Debut Hotel (And Restaurant!)

The cult Japanese brand’s first stab at hospitality lets guests live with its products–then pop downstairs to buy them.

The Japanese lifestyle brand Muji is most known for its simple, effortless home goods, designed to make you feel like you can declutter your life–all through a little glowing aroma diffuser or a cardboard covered notebook.

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Now, Muji is bringing that same efficiency of design and simple beauty to the world of hospitality. On January 18, the company is opening its first hotel in the Chinese city of Shenzhen in the same building as one of its largest stores in China–so you’ll be able to browse the company’s goods after experiencing them for yourself upstairs. It’s a novel concept, one that gestures toward a future of retail where companies give their customers more ways to get cozy with their brand–whether that’s through Apple’s “town squares” or by literally getting in bed with Muji.

[Photo: Muji]
The 79-room hotel is designed around wellness–walking when possible, eating well, sleeping well, and staying fit. The theme positions Muji as a company that’s dedicated to helping you achieve a holistic, healthy lifestyle. That translates into the rooms themselves, which are chock full of–you guessed it–Muji furniture and home goods, often made from simple, natural materials. With offerings of single and double beds, the rooms still do look like a stripped-down version of your average hotel suite, sans the bad patterned carpet, the branded notebooks, and the cliched art. Instead, the floors are wood, the color palette is light, and there’s little branding to be found–true to Muji’s reputation. It’s meant to be a space in which you can relax and rejuvenate without being inundated by too much information or hotel logos.

[Photo: Muji]
To complete the wellness package, there’s an on-site gym, a 24-hour library that’s open to the public, and a restaurant called the Muji Diner that emphasizes local ingredients (you can head downstairs to the store to purchase any dishes that strike your fancy, afterwards). And the price? Rooms range from $145 to $385 per night, somewhere between a budget hotel and slightly more luxurious accommodations.

This is the first of two hotels the company has announced so far. A hotel in Tokyo is slated to open in 2019–and given the success of Muji’s retail business, which has led to more than 700 stores worldwide, including big-box retail stories in the U.S., it’s easy to imagine that the company’s simple aesthetic could turn it into the next premier boutique hotel chain. It’s an example of a retailer finding a new way to bring its (anti-brand) brand to its customers–outside the conventional retail box.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture.

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