700’000 heures is a journey rather than a room for a night – although it does include that, too…
Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of a ‘wandering’ or ‘ephemeral’ hotel – there is only one of them in the world, and before 2018, they didn’t exist at all. Besides, it’s probably not quite what you think it is. Named for the apparent average number of hours human beings spend on Earth, 700’000 heures is a journey rather than a room for a night – although it does include that, too. Every six months founder Thierry Teyssier and his 700’000 heures team take an exclusive group of travellers to a new destination, where a locally-engrained and ultra-exclusive itinerary unfolds. These destinations and experiences exist for just a few months, and are never repeated.
“Time is precious. Too precious to miss out on experiences that can transform how we see the world. This is the raison d’être of 700’000 heures: a pioneering adventure that elevates communities while transporting you to an utterly new way of travelling. One that is more memorable, more meaningful and more humane,” the 700’000 heures website reads.
But there’s a catch. To be invited to these once-in-a-lifetime journeys, you must be a member of the private, members-only community, Cercle des Amazirs, which requires you pay a joining fee along with an annual fee of minimum €2,000 euros. On the plus side, that fee goes towards your future 700’000 travels, and members can reserve their stay for the dates and duration they wish.
On each journey, a collection of custom ‘travelling trunks’ travels with the group so impromptu lunches and dinners can be sprung upon guests at any moment; on 700’000 heures journeys, surprises are guaranteed on the daily. On each journey, Thierry and the team work behind the scenes with the locals of the destination to create completely unique spaces and moments tailored to guests’ desires.
The accommodation in each destination is a selection of unique and authentic private homes, and 700’000 heures recently launched The Constellation, opening select, local houses from the various journeys to the general public for holiday rentals. 700’000 heures also gives back to the communities where they operate temporarily through DAEM, a non-profit training program in hospitality and environmental protection, named to support those who live in these remote locations far from the throngs of traditional tourism.
“The world is too rich to settle for trips which all look alike… It’s time to invent a new way to discover the world, which is more authentically connected to people and cultures, more enriching and more humane for all. It’s time to become independently minded,” the company’s brochure reads.
The first 700’000 journey took place in 2018 in Salento, in Southern Italy’s trending Puglia region, and since then, Cambodia and Brazil have played host to the 700’000 Heures family. Most recently, over Christmas, the adventure took place at Place Vendôme in Paris, and come April the ephemeral hotel will ‘open’ in Japan – unsurprising given 2020 seems to be the unofficial Year of Japan in the tourism world.
So what exactly is so special about the ephemeral hotel, and what can you expect? Read on for an idea of the Salento journey, where guests were housed in a romantic, long-forgotten palazzo…
- Saunters on the cobblestoned lanes of Cinquecento
- A picnic perched atop the coastal bluffs
- A freshly- and locally-caught sea urchin tasting experience
- A surprise dinner in an abandoned train wagon temporarily converted into a masterpiece
- A Vespa ride to magnificent boulders
- Lunch under olive trees facing the sea
- Brunch in a waterside grotto
- Relaxing in a Leccese café on the village square
- Sitting in for watercolour portraits
- Sunset cocktails at a impromptu outdoor living room above the ocean
- Exploring the Parisi brothers’ warehouse filled with a kaleidoscope of traditional Pugliese luminarie fairy lights
- A musician serenading guests as they arrived home each night
As for Japan, the locations will be Ine, a traditional Japanese house in a fisherman’s village on the Sea of Japan, and Koyasan, a historic temple that just celebrated its 1200th birthday. Guests have the choice of staying in just one or both places, and it will set you back 2,500 euros per night for two guests in a double room, or 2,000 euros per night in a single room. Children are also welcome, at 750 euros a head. All meals, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks are included, along with activities, excursions and workshops, all accompanied by a Japanese culture specialist and tea master.
Where do we sign up?