Meet Cabin’s Moving Hotel

How to teleport in your sleep

As a kid, I loved Howl’s Moving Castle. In the film, a young wizard named Howl lives in a magical moving home that takes him anywhere his heart desires. Unlimited by logistics, Howl lives in the mountains, a seaside village, and the capital city.

Howl’s Moving Castle

When I first learned about autonomous vehicles in high school, I eagerly awaited the day when I — like Howl — could fall asleep, and wake up at my destination; to have the freedom to be anywhere I wanted to be without having to spend time getting there. I spent countless hours in college designing the perfect moving bedroom, patiently awaiting the day when I could buy a self-driving sprinter van.

One of my Google SketchUp drawings from 2009

Fast forward to last year when I met my co-founder, Gaetano Crupi, and discovered that he shared a similar dream. Together we decided that with no real time horizon for autonomous vehicles to reach critical mass, it was time to make our dreams of sleep-travel a reality. For the last year our team has been building a moving hotel :)

On Cabin, you can now cozy up in your own private sleep cabin at night and, like Howl, wake up somewhere new the next morning. We’re starting with SF <> LA as our first route, but oh, the places you’ll go.

Private sleeping cabin with privacy curtain, blackout shades, power, wifi, reading light, air vent and luxury linens

Uncovering a Large Problem

While initially we just wanted to build Cabin for ourselves, we’ve come to realize it’s a practical solution to a big problem — regional travel.

On an average day, 48,000 people make the 400 mile trip between the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Roughly 30% take a flight, 67% drive, and 3% take the train or bus. Weighing the options is like picking your poison: the drive takes 5–8 hours depending on traffic; flights can be expensive (more so when include the cost of getting to and from the airport) and, with delays, take almost as long as the drive; buses are low-quality and feel unsafe; and the train takes 12 hours.

Traveling during the day can be a nightmare

We call this “The 500 Mile Problem.” Pick any major city, and you can easily count a handful of destinations up to 500 miles away that you’d like to visit more frequently — but don’t. By consolidating both transportation and accommodation into one experience, we believe that moving hotels are the answer to the 500 mile problem and will increase the number of city-to-city trips Americans take every year.

Large Format Vehicles & Self-Driving Cars

When we first discussed the idea of sleep-travel and moving hotels, Gaetano and I both thought that the concept’s viability was dependent on self-driving cars. Upon further examination, we were surprised to learn that the cost of moving one cubic foot of space one mile with a large format vehicle (including driver & attendant costs) is actually three to four times cheaper than with a self-driving 50 mpg car.

We use this cost per cubic foot-mile advantage to deliver an experience not possible with individual autonomous cars. This includes an onboard bar/lounge to hangout and socialize downstairs, high ceilings that allow you to walk around and stretch throughout the journey, two floors that separate the social and sleeping spaces, a restroom that eliminates the need to stop the vehicle for frequent bathroom breaks, trained onboard staff, and hospitality services.

Cabin’s second floor hallway

In a future where driving is automated and commoditized, design and hospitality services become vital to guest experience — especially if you are in a space for more than two hours. Over the past year we focused all of our attention on creating that future experience, today.

Ground floor lounge area with couch, two booths and bathroom with running water

The Result — Expanding Your “Radius”

Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft have changed the experience of intra-city travel by decreasing the cost and friction of taking 1–20 mile trips. This sense of freedom has made the entire city more accessible and makes you feel like your radius of living has expanded.

We believe it’s possible to deliver a similar experience for city-to-city trips and transform what is currently a draining and costly experience, into one of ease and enjoyment.

By using sleep hours to travel, we remove the opportunity cost of travel time. You simply wake up 500 miles from home, enjoy your day, and then wake up back where you started. You feel teleported.

Cabin Routes

Beyond the SF <> LA route, Americans take 1.5 billion 200–500 mile trips every year. For the next few years, we plan on focusing all of our scaling efforts on 6–8 hour routes that connect major metro hubs.

Looking even further into the future, we envision the moving hotel and other Cabin hospitality transportation products becoming a key component of America’s infrastructure — particularly for longer distance trips where interior design, services, and amenities matter.

We’re excited for what the future holds, and can’t wait for you to experience Cabin’s one-of-a-kind moving hotel in July.

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Thank you for reading!