What is it? A quirky budget hotel in the East End with a unique design concept. What does Qbic refer to? The Cubi, a "cube-shaped living box" (top) that stands in each bedroom and includes bathroom, bed, lighting, electricity sockets and even a television in one compact structure. The free-standing pods were invented for the first Qbic, in Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Made in China, they arrive flat-packed and each can be assembled in five hours. What is the point of them? The Cubi brings down costs and means the Qbic guys (two Dutchmen) can convert vacant office buildings into hotels in just a few months. What else is different about the hotel? Almost everything, from the wooden hunting cabin in the lobby - in which guests are invited to sit, to get away from it all - to the automated check-in booths, to the converted office building the hotel is located in. What is the Qbic take on food? The rooms have no fridges but several vending machines in the communal lounge (right and top) sell everything from crisps and chocolate bars to soups, pies and fair trade and organic snacks. A selection of local beers is also available. A continental breakfast of cereal, bread, yogurt, fruit and cheese costs £7.50 (HK$95). A complimentary hot-drinks counter on each of the four guest floors and the breakfast-to-go bags, containing a cereal bar, an apple and a fruit juice, that are hung on guest doors, are nice touches. Most of the food is sourced responsibly and locally, so you can expect muesli made in Bermondsey and jams and preserves from Borough, both in south London. Occasionally, chefs serve impromptu hot meals and soups at Qbic. If none of that appeals, some of London's trendiest eateries and bars are within walking distance (in the more upmarket parts of Shoreditch) and Brick Lane, home to more Indian restaurants than you can shake a poppadum at, is practically down the road. Tell me more about the location. Just steps away from the East End's Whitechapel Gallery, the location is both gritty and up-and-coming, punctuated by gleaming office towers and down-at-heel convenience stores and takeaways. The area is not touristy nor prettified, but is extremely well-served by Tube and overground trains. It is also within walking distance of achingly hip boutiques, cafes and art galleries. Pros and cons? The all-natural beds are some of the most comfortable this writer has ever slept in, and the rooms are extremely well sound- and light-insulated. There is clearly a sustainability ethos at work here; no wasteful smellies in the bathroom, compostable tableware and so on. However, the decor feels slightly futuristic and cold as opposed to cosy or cool, and the pods, made out of painted aluminium, feel somewhat cheap, especially the slightly bouncy flooring in the bathroom. Corkboard and photo frames on the walls add little to the aesthetic and the ladder-and-hosepipe installations for coats and personal items are too clever for their own good. Blown-up photos adorn the pods but the choice of these is inexplicable in some cases; the ones in my room are of Princess Diana and Justin Bieber, side by side. These have apparently led to a bit of unease - who wants to sleep beneath the gaze of a dead princess and, errr, a living one? - and will soon be replaced with a city- or landscape, which should prove more relaxing. Any other tips? Avoid the rooms with no windows, unless you like that sort of thing or your budget demands it. The rooms with views of the park are the best. The lounge is welcoming, warm and full of character and colour. The furniture is a mix of 1950s and 60s pieces and handcrafted wooden items adorned by quirky bits of art by Londoners, such as the wonderfully strange and tiny micro-gardens created by London-based artist Mei Yu. Come spring, the hotel's owners plan to open a rooftop terrace, where guests will be able to have a drink while soaking up views of the city's landmarks. What will it set me back? The rates work like airline tickets; the earlier you book, the cheaper they are. Book early and you can get a room for £59 - a steal for a hotel so close to the City. Visit london.qbichotels.com for more details.