Rotel - The German Bus HotelRotel  

Capsule hotels are in vogue right now. The German tour company Rotel has always been ahead of the game by providing capsule hotels on wheels since 1945.

No matter how much you enjoy staying in a five-star hotel, you will always be stationary, trapped in one district. So, to feed your sense of novelty and adventure, you decide to book yourself on a Rotel bus.

What next? Well, first, you choose your tour from hundreds of options all around the world. If the wilds of Africa are not your thing, perhaps the vast planes of central Russia are. Or maybe the frozen wilderness of the Arctic will appeal, or what about exotic Ecuador?

On the bus, you ride in passenger seats during the day and sleep in 6x6x3ft capsules at night. There is a large kitchen on board for food, but you may have to go a few days until you reach a shower as there is no one on the bus.

But who could complain about the smell of unwashed passengers when you wake up in a new and exciting location every day?

Type: Bus   Moving
Rotel Tours Retro Old Photo

Rotel Tours

Rotel Tours is the largest bus tour in the world, based in the Bavarian town of Tittling in Germany. Their name comes from the combination of "rolling" and "hotel", which is a portmanteau (two overlapping words creating a new one).

Rotel Tours was established by Georg Höltl right at the end of World War II in 1945, but it wasn't until 1951 that the first bus took off to Switzerland. Tours went to France, Italy, and Spain in subsequent years.

Höltl's concept for Rotel was human encounters and cultural exchange enabled by a bus hotel that takes you to places. It was a fragile period for Germans to travel abroad, but it was an important mission to reconcile with the past and make way for a better, more empathic future.

Hence, the Rotel Tours soon received its nickname: "International Meeting Trips". It was a pioneering project that has been successfully transporting thousands of people to distant places in their quirky buses ever since.

Rotel Tours

Then, in 1959, the Jerusalem-bound journey started in Münich. Without using any ferries, they drove all the way to Israel through Turkey over land and made it back to Germany in 38 days.

One decade later, Rotel managed to cross the Sahara, which paved the way for even farther destinations like Mongolia, China, Laos, or Vietnam.

Their specially prepared buses offer trips to far-away destinations, taking (primarily) Europeans (the journeys start in Germany) to exotic landscapes and cultures.

While most tour companies will book you a flight and an all-inclusive hotel where you will eat continental breakfast and have no interaction with locals other than the staff, Rotel offers something very different.

It takes you on study and expedition trips, going off the beaten paths, stopping at the most unlikely places, and converging with the locals whenever possible.

Rotel Tours Bus

Rotel has four types of vehicles:

—A 20-seater four-wheel drive bus for trips off the beaten track going to South America, Africa, and Asia
—A 24-seater bus combined going around European countries
—A 34-seater four-wheel drive bus with a trailer for long expeditions in South America and Southern Africa
—A 36-seater bus with a Rotel trailer

Rotel Tour Capsule Sleeping

All four buses have a unified Rotel cabin for overnight stays. It's similar to what you find in capsule hotels but can take you to the next undiscovered destination while you sleep.

The sleeping capsules are 6.6-foot (2 meters) long and 2.8-foot (80 cm) wide for singles and 5.6-foot (160 cm) for doubles.

Rotel in desert

The idea is fifty years old but just as brilliant today. The long time since it started indicates that the concept is a commercial success.

Rotel bus in the desert

Today, Rotel Tours offers as many as 3,400 beds on wheels and annually logs around 600,000 overnight stays.

Rotel crossing the river

Rotel is a combination of a tourist bus and a hotel. Even while you are "sitting in your room," you discover parts of the world you have never seen before.

3 storey bus

Rotel on dangerous roads

The journey will take you through winding roads, some of them so dangerous that without a professional driver, it would be too risky to take.

Dangerous road

But every once in a while, the people onboard the bus can ask the driver to take a well-deserved stop to enjoy the cliffside panorama and relax.

Rotel in India

Another advantage of taking a sleeper bus all over the world is it can stop at some of the most famous sights, and you can enjoy the view from the window without needing to mingle with the average tourist.

In the desert

The offroad setup of the bus allows for taking routes that are not feasible for regular vehicles.

Rotel between rocky mountains

The Rotel tour will take you through rugged terrain off the beaten path.

Time for a stop to enjoy the view

Rotel in Namibia

Rotel Tours - Das Rollende Hotel - glance at the locals and their camels

The destinations are often far off the beaten track and wide tourist paths. You are offered considerably more comfort and safety than if you were to wander around with a tent on your back.

Stop at a camp

Guests should not expect five-star luxury at the Rotel. There is no shower, but there is a toilet on the bus. A camping kitchen can also be used while it's stationary.

Road to the high mountains

The organization uses existing campsites as much as possible, but this is not always possible in remote areas. The travel organization is active in Africa, Europe, and Asia, and the destinations are often exotic and rural.

Rotel in the nature

If more than 24 passengers come along, a trailer can be attached to the bus where you can stay overnight.

Stop to meet the locals

African tribe

African tribe and Rotel

The typical Rotel bus travels with between 20 and 40 tourists. It usually has 22 passenger seats and 24 rooms, including one for the driver and one for the tour guide.

Rotel and the mountains in the background

Mount Everest

A quick stop in Fatehpur Sikri, India

The bus stops as often as possible at places where you can have a shower. On certain nights, you will also have the opportunity to spend the night in a normal hotel room.

Crossing on a boat

People help Rotel to move after it got stuck

And if the bus gets in trouble, you and your fellow travelers will work as a team to get through challenging adventures.

Relaxing in the shade of rotel


Rotel room

You get your own little crawl space - about 3.3 feet (1 meter) high but with ample width - where you can spend the nights in a little more comfort than in a tent.

Camping with Rotel

Preparing the food

Herrenstraße 11, 94104 Tittling, Germany