The Smallest Room I Have Ever Stayed In

People often wonder how I am able to travel for so long on my limited means. One “secret” is finding ways to keep daily expenses to a minimum while still enjoying and taking advantage of the locations I’m visiting. One area I tend to take the biggest shortcuts on is accommodation. If I can get a decent night’s sleep in a place with adequate showering possibilities and feel safe to a point I don’t feel me or my belongings are in peril, the cheaper the better.

During my current extended stay in Xiamen on China’s temperate southeast coast, I decided to take a break from my in-town lodging to stay by the beach in a laid back, out-of-the-way former fishing village called Zeng Cuo An.


It was here in this maze of cute, kitschy collection of shops, restaurants and bars that I came upon the hotel and  room which inspired this post.IMG_1465

Hotel Manzo entrance

The pleasant front desk hostess led me up one flight of stairs after the other to a rooftop deck where she pointed me to what looked to be a mini yurt/storage shed off to the side of the patio.IMG_1492

In it, they somehow managed to cram a bed, a tiny table, side dresser, chair, TV and air conditioner into a space that barely fits the bed. With its sloped roof, even if you could walk to the end of the room, you still can’t stand up. I couldn’t open my suitcase without putting it mostly on the bed.


I was reminded of a depressing place I stayed for work in Stockholm, Sweden where I could easily touch both walls with my hands extended out to the side, but that room was marginally larger overall because of the attached bathroom and you could walk around a bit. If memory serves me correctly, that room was still over $100 a night!

This place in China, while only 60RMB ($10), is about seven times higher priced than the cheapest place I’ve ever paid to stay, but this room is considerably nicer despite its size, and close to the best price you are going to find for a private room in urban eastern China these days. A decent common shower and Western toilet are around the corner on the same floor.

IMG_1493 The deck on which the room is situated offers sweeping views of the village and surrounding mountains, plus there are a number of additional pleasantly furnished public areas to hang out in, including some swinging benches and a couple tables down by the entrance, which have mini goldfish ponds under them.

IMG_1494There’s free WiFi throughout, free tea, purified drinking water and access to a group fridge. You can cook here for a $5 kitchen use fee including rice and oil, but why would you cook when there are so many cool little restaurants to check out nearby?

My first night I had a prolonged battle with an endless parade of inbound mosquitoes, but the next night I figured out how to keep them at bay by plugging some suspect holes, lighting a mosquito coil for 30 minutes before entering the room for the night, and keeping the A/C going. Slept WAY better!

Most of the rooms in the rest of the hotel are several times higher in price, so if you ever want to try and cram into room #403, you might want to call in advance.  Good luck finding the hotel, though. It is buried in the back of a winding, mostly pedestrian zone. I’d have no idea how to explain how to get there, having only found it by wandering around. Here’s a map (I guess it was #469):


If you aren’t claustrophobic and don’t mind a bit of adventure, in my opinion it’s worth it.


Any stories to share about small rooms you have stayed in?

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