This Flying Hotel Room Costs $43K (Butler Included)

The UAE’s Etihad Airlines created a flying hotel room, complete with an ensuite bathroom and butler service. One problem: It’s ugly.

In an attempt to one-up competitors in the growing luxury air travel industry, United Arab Emirates airline carrier Etihad has just announced what they’re calling “The Residence.” This three-room, first-class suite will be onboard Airbus A380 flights. Billed as “the world’s most luxurious living space in the air,” The Residence is basically a flying hotel room, with a double bed, an ensuite bathroom with shower, as well as butler and chef service. The pricetag? Up to $43,000, according to Businessweek.


But more important than all the fancy amenities will be the airsick bags. And we hope they stock extra, because the suite is nauseatingly ugly. In the promotional video for The Residence, Australian TV personality Dannii Minogue actually screams upon entering the space. She pretends it’s a scream of delight, but we know it’s really one of Munchian horror.

Etihad’s branded colors are brown and mustard yellow, which they unfortunately carry into the interior of this suite. Perhaps they were going for a kind of Louis Vuitton-esque branding, but the result comes off as more, well, scatological. Yellow–commonly cited as the world’s least-favorite color–dominates the upholstery. The deep brown Poltrona Frau leather ottoman cover, the same as you’d find inside a Ferrari, Minogue will have you know, might make you feel stuck in a flying Hershey’s Chocolate ad. The gold-accented dinnerware might also blind you in the glare of the 32-inch flatscreen TV over the dining space. As one Fast Company staffer put it, “It’s like luxury solitary confinement.”

Etihad also redid its First Class section in a similar style, dubbing it “First Apartments” on A380s and “First Suites” on B787s. These will include shower access, ottomans that turn into beds, and sliding doors. As evidence of how inoffensive and even stylish these designs could’ve been, compare Etihad’s luxury suite to Air France’s La Premiere suite–simple and far easier on the eyes.

With 125 square feet in total–including a minibar, full-sized wardrobe, and massage chairs–flying in “The Residence” is definitely more comfortable than being crammed up next to a sweaty stranger in the same chair for nine hours. But with that pricetag, you may want to save yourself tens of thousands and fly economy with one of these new head hammocks instead.

About the author

Carey Dunne is a Brooklyn-based writer covering art and design. Follow her on Twitter.