First 'Instagram hotel' gives free stays for popularity
If you’re going to bill your hotel as the world’s first "Instagram hotel," it helps if you can provide guests with some photogenic surroundings to get snap-happy in.
Sydney’s new 1888 Hotel -- the first in the world inspired by the popular photo-sharing app -- certainly isn’t lacking in that department.
The 90-room boutique hotel in the city’s waterside Pyrmont suburb occupies a heritage-listed building originally used as a wool store built in, as the name says, 1888.
Over the last two years, it's undergone a meticulous AU$30 million ($28 million) restoration, creating a unique space that successfully blends original features, including reclaimed ironbark beams, period windows and exposed brick walls, with colorful furniture and vibrant artwork.
“The style of the building and its heritage was very important,” says Paul Fischmann, CEO of 8 Hotels, which owns 1888.
“We walked in here and you could see all the elements that would make it a cool hotel.”
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Selfie spaces and Insta-walks
From a light-filled, five-story atrium -- complete with an indoor tree -- to freestanding bathtubs and recycled timber desks in rooms, nearly every angle of the 1888 provides a photo opp for Instagrammers.
Taking inspiration from the year 1888 -- when Kodak patented its first box and roll cameras -- the hotel has embraced the popularity of the photo-sharing app, with two screens in reception displaying a constantly updated feed of images guests have uploaded to Instagram using the #1888hotel hashtag.
The hotel features a dedicated "selfie space," where guests can pose for photos behind a gilt-edged frame.
Insta-walk maps are available from reception, taking guests to Instagrammable sights such as the Pyrmont Bridge, Darling Harbour and Chinese Gardens.
Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers are rewarded with a free night’s stay, while each month the guest who has snapped the best Instagram picture during their visit also gets a free night’s accommodation.
“So many people are on Instagram and so many people love taking photos and sharing them,” says Fischmann.
“People are taking images wherever they go and sharing them with their friends, so we thought we’d play on that a little bit with things like the ‘selfie space’ and the monthly competitions.
“What’s been fun is following the people who have started following us. There are actually a lot of people with a lot more than 10,000 followers – we had a guy here who had 650,000 followers, and he took a photo in the selfie space and had 35,000 likes. It’s amazing to think about the reach of it and it’s fun to watch."
'People have really embraced it'
After a full day of Instagramming, guests can connect smartphones to in-room media hubs to review images on a 40-inch LED TV, before uploading their snaps via the hotel’s Wi-Fi.
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Each of the 90 rooms features an iPad, which guests can use to order room service, control air conditioning or view staff recommendations for nearby bars and restaurants.
Share plates and charcuterie boards are available at the 1888 Eatery & Bar.
The 1888’s rooms range from compact, 15-square-meter "Shoeboxes," which feature queen beds and rain showers, to a 35-square-meter Junior Suite, which has a king bed, lounge area and city views.
The rooftop penthouse has a huge outdoor terrace overlooking the city.
“People have really embraced it," says Fischmann.
"Photography-based social media is something we can build on. We had all sorts of ideas, such as having photo booths in the lobby and things like that, so there are definitely ways we can continue it on.”
A free stay should be motivation for those seeking to gain a few thousand more Instagram followers.
1888 Hotel, 139 Murray St., Pyrmont; +61 (0)2 8586 1888; rooms from AU$159 ($147) per night
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