AS an estate agent might say, it's a self-contained residence.

Budget hotel giant Travelodge is to save £10m by importing ready-built hotel rooms from China through Southampton docks.

The move is part of a radical new construction method that sees the rooms, or modules, shipped into the city in modified containers, loaded onto a lorry and taken to Uxbridge, London, where they are stacked to create a new hotel.

Each container typically contains two hotel rooms complete with bathroom, wiring, wardrobes, carpeting and even a bed.

They will be fitted into a steel frame and bolted together to form an eight-storey building.

Once decorated, furnished and the exterior clad, bosses hope it will appear no different to the chain's 318 other hotels.

Travelodge predicts its innovative approach will slash costs by ten per cent and knock construction times down by a quarter.

If the project is a success, it could be the start of a lucrative new import business for Southampton, with Travel-odge planning to add on average 4,000 rooms - equivalent to 40 hotels - to its books every year up to 2020.

And up to half could be built using imported room modules.

Paul Harvey, Travelodge's director of property, said: "We see this method of construction as a viable way for us to achieve our ambitious growth targets. We believe that almost half of our new hotels over the next 12 years could be built in this way.

"The method also presents interesting recycling options, given that the steel containers can be reused or melted down.

"We know modular construction is environmentally friendly so there is tremendous benefit on a number of levels."

Mark Allies, managing director of builders George & Harding, said: "The modules are cost-effective yet durable, easily transported, stackable and reusable and make absolute sense for businesses like Travelodge, as well as student accommodation and urban housing."

As previously reported by the Daily Echo, Southampton City Council is considering using modified container units as a solution to the city's housing shortage.