In 2016, some entrepreneurs solved the problem of finding reasonably cheap travel between Santa Monica and San Francisco. They got a double decker bus, redesigned it with 22 sleep pods, and began a service where you can fall asleep in a private bunk in one city and wake up the next morning in another.
They call it Cabin.
The original name was actually SleepBus, which I happen to like better but hey, they didn’t consult with me before the name change ;-). But whatever you call it, the concept was interesting – you buy a flat rate ticket (the rate varies but starts at $119), get on the bus, pick a bunk, and then fall asleep. When you wake up the next morning, you will have arrived. They refer to it as a moving hotel and in many way, I guess it is :-).
Here’s how it works:
You make a reservation and a few days before departure day, you’ll receive an email with pick up and drop-off locations, as well as a packing list (i.e. bring comfy PJs, but no outside food or alcohol. You can bring a small snack, though.).
You and up to 2 bags arrive about 20-30 minutes (or more, if you want) before departure time at a centrally located pick up spot and they have hospitality-trained attendants ready to welcome you. You pick your sleep pod – either an upper or a lower bunk that’s called a cabin. Each cabin is more than 75-77″ long, 26-31″ wide, and tall enough to sit up in.
They have soft sheets and comfy pillows in your own private sleeping cabin. Each cabin also features snooze-inducing amenities like melatonin gummies, ear plugs, water, slippers and hot towel service. With all of that plus a privacy shade, blackout drapes and soundproof walls, you’ll hopefully doze off pretty fast. But if not, don’t worry…each cabin has a light, 2 electrical outlets and 2 USB ports. There’s a vent for the air conditioning or heat that you can control and they also give you a bag to put your shoes in, to keep the sleep pod clean.
Each Cabin vehicle is equipped with a bathroom that has a flushable toilet, sink with running water and various sanitation products and amenities.
When you wake up, you’ll almost be at your destination, so you can wash up, get dressed, and, once at the conveniently placed arrival location, head on out.
The above is all based on their website.
We had originally written about Cabin about a year and a half ago, and watched the reviews on Yelp ever since, and they’ve really run the gamut from 5-star “this is great” to 1-star “Here are all the things that are wrong and I’ll never do this again.”
Of the 47 reviews Cabin had since joining Yelp in 2016, 20 of them were 1-, 2- or 3-stars. The issues for those raters were:
- Company cancelled trip a few hours before boarding time, citing maintenance issues – 9
- Bumpy ride – 3
- Poor refund policy – 2
- Poor facilities – 2
- Problems with website; couldn’t make reservation – 2
- Passenger’s luggage was lost; company unhelpful – 1
There was only 1 review from early 2019 (it was one of the “company cancelled trip a few hours before boarding time”) and soon after that, their website only had a “be back soon” banner for most of 2019. Many, including me, were convinced that Cabin had had gone out of business, especially when the “Be Back Soon” banner changed to an empty page sometime over this past summer.
And then, all of a sudden, their website was live again. Their prices had gone up to the aforementioned “Starting at $115” (it was previously between $85 and $115 one way) and the website now touted “Cabin Cloud” technology for some of their cabins:
During our one-year pilot, road turbulence was a frequent guest complaint. Cabin G2 introduces our proprietary bump-canceling technology, Cabin Cloud. Beneath select cabins, a suite of sensors, electric motors and control algorithms instantly respond to road imperfections by moving a guest’s bed up or down to control the vibration. The technology transforms a bump that would take a passenger out of the deepest sleep, into a bump that they hardly notice.
The bathroom was apparently redesigned as well, to allow more room.
No mention of the cancelled trips, which they always touted as maintenance issues.
So if you have a need to travel between L.A. and San Francisco, maybe Cabin is for you. Or maybe you’ll want to see how the reviews of the “new and improved” Cabin go. I still think it sounds like a cool concept, if they can work the kinks out of it.
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This business is doomed to failure. Just fly, This is silly.
I agree – I don’t think they’re long for this world, especially when this is their 3rd change in as many years and with all the cancelled rides in previous years, to boot.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s an interesting concept and they seem to be doing the best that they can…but really, flights are faster, most are cheaper, and probably usually easier.
Interesting concept, but agree this is probably too far outside the mainstream to become a major success. The main benefit of the sleep bus is that it combines transportation with sleeping, avoiding the need to spend travel time plus separate hotel time (and cost). This idea might be better suited for companies that need to move teams of workers from one location to another overnight (e.g. construction crews, concert stage crews, etc.) which can lease/rent the entire bus for X days or weeks at a time.