It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s...a Hotel?

Courtesy of Studio Massaud

Travel by dirigible long ago went the way of the Charleston and the flapper bob—all quaint symbols of once-modern sophistication. But some companies, and even the U.S. military, are working to revive the technology as an alternative means of air transport. During its heyday, in 1936, the Hindenburg ferried as many as a thousand people at a time across the Atlantic to and from Germany. French designer Jean-Marie Massaud’s vision is a bit dreamier. His Manned Cloud (here) is essentially a flying hotel for 40 passengers, complete with a restaurant, gym, spa, sun deck, and staff of 15. Four-day trips from Paris to Madagascar aboard the helium-filled airship—at a maximum speed of 105 miles per hour—would be about allowing passengers, Massaud notes, to “reexperience timelessness” while enjoying spectacular views. Though the whale-shaped craft won’t be up and running for another decade, it’s definitely not just pie in the sky: onera, the French office of aerospace research, has signed on as a partner.