The Delhi Double: Eaton Smart New Delhi Airport Transit Hotel and Sam’s Snooze at My Space
Yvonne Shafir endeavors to catch a few winks during a layover at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, via a sleeping pod colony, and a transit hotel
Confronted by two long-haul flights separated by a 10-hour layover (1 a.m to 11 a.m) at Indira Gandhi International Airport (without a valid Indian visa and access to the city), Sam’s Snooze at My Space, a sleeping booth bundled with bed, Wi-Fi, desk and TV, in a cute Jetson’s-style white modular package, appeared to be the ticket.
Sam’s sleeping pod colony sprouts on the concourse between departure gates 17 and 18. If you have a flight leaving from either of these gates, you are very well positioned indeed. The interiors of the mini snooze pods were adorably accessorized with retro desk lamp, mini desk with exotic wood print laminate, silver shagadelic wallpaper, contemporary Indian artwork in little frames, bunk bed with vinyl mattress, mini fridge, 20-inch flat screen TV, DVD player, and a pair of house slippers as found in only the best establishments. The pod presents very well.
There are however, a couple of structural elements, which detract from the pod’s functionality. The first issue is that the pod has four sides that bravely shield it from the concourse foot and trolley traffic, but no covering except for four timorous fabric slats. It is, to all purposes, a pod convertible, with the roof permanently removed. While this is desirable in a vehicle traveling at high speeds down a country highway, it is unwelcome in a static sleep capsule open to the glare of the terminal fluorescent lighting and interminable departure announcements. There is also no security (i.e., lock, or key, or keycard) on the pod, so any trip to the public toilets by Gate 15, for example, or foray to the food court (try the McSpicy chicken burger!), could jeopardize the integrity of anything empodded.
It took twenty-two minutes of machinations (including confiscation of my iPad to input a code which she wouldn’t reveal) on the part of the pod mistress, in her reception pod behind the “Guest is God” sign, to admit that the Wi-Fi access was not working (non existent?). It also took three requests, and even more repeat (and unannounced) visits by the pod attendant to have most of the following items brought 1) a sheet 2) a second cover sheet 3) a pillow case and 4) a blanket, and to have the waste basket emptied of the previous pod dweller’s water bottles (had they been taking an impromptu shower?).
The TV had no reception, and the DVD player looked operable but the DVD action thriller (“Paycheck – Remember the Future!”) that promised to keep me entertained for the next couple of sleepless hours proved to be nothing but an empty case. The remainder of the DVD library seemed to be out on loan.
After a valiant attempt to buy ear plugs at the pharmacy (they had run out, naturally), a momentary impulse to acquire slow-acting melatonin for thirty-five dollars, and then a subsequent attempt to calm my nervous system with a foot massage at the airport spa, I retreated back to my pod, lay down on my mattress which still crinkled with a vinyl creak beneath my one sheet and covered myself with the case-less pillow. Moments later, I, popped up, gathered my things and emerged from my pod, more disheveled than I had been on entry. I had managed to use up one hour and fifteen minutes of my prepaid five hours costing fifty dollars. I was denied a refund for the remaining three hours and forty-five minutes and surrendered to my karma. Obviously, I had done something quite wrong in a past life.
In sum, Sam’s was more of a No-Doze pill, than a sleep capsule, but one runs no risk of missing one’s flight. Yet for fifty dollars less, you might try the (lavatory) cubicles by Gate 15. You might have to sit upright, but at least you can lock the door. For my purposes, however, I needed to find a real hotel.
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