Do you want to try a different accommodation when visiting Japan? If so, then capsule hotels may be perfect for you. They offer a unique experience for travelers looking for an affordable yet cozy place to stay.
If you are curious about what it’s like to spend the night in one of these hotels, read on! In this article, we will explain what capsule hotels are, how they operate, how much they cost, and where to find them in Japan.
What Are Capsule Hotels?
From cute Hello Kitty-themed hotel rooms to more somber themes like the prison hotel in Okinawa, Japan has its fair share of unusual accommodations.
And then you have Japanese capsule hotels. They are exactly what they sound like – a hotel made up of individual capsules that you commonly can find at a convenient location such as near a train station or even at Narita airport with First Cabin.
The first capsule hotel opened in Osaka in 1979, and there are now over 3,000 of them throughout the country. Capsule hotels have recently grown in popularity worldwide, and you can find them in many other countries like Russia, Singapore, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Outside of Japan, they are best known as ¨pod hotels ¨.
These little compartments are popular among traveling Japanese business people on a tight budget. They are usually arranged side by side and look a bit like the inside of a human-sized beehive. The pods themselves are typically just large enough for a bed or futon. This kind of accommodation is generally used for single-night stays.
It goes without saying that capsule hotels, no matter their uniqueness, are to be avoided if you are not comfortable with tiny spaces. There is no doubt a pod will make you feel claustrophobic!
Apart from their small dimensions (roughly 2m long – 1m high – 1.2m wide) and low prices, most capsule hotels provide the same basic amenities and services as a regular hotel, such as free WiFi, alarm clock, air conditioning, TV screens, and power outlets.
Each pod also has a simple mattress, sheets, and a pillow. Of course, there is no actual door at your cabin for safety reasons but a simple curtain. You might also receive slippers and a cool Japanese-style yukata pajama for the night.
How Much Does a Night Cost at a Capsule Hotel?
It is important to note that capsule hotels are not as widespread as other types of accommodation, so finding one in rural areas may be more challenging. However, most prominent cities in Japan will have at least a few.
Capsule hotels’ prices vary from city to city, but they typically cost between 3000 and 4500 yen per night (between $25 and $40). You might also need to pay an extra tax per night and guest, but it usually doesn’t cost more than one or two hundred yen. Also, keep in mind that hotels might raise their tariffs during the peak season around April/May and July.
If you plan on staying the night in a capsule hotel, be sure to research your options ahead of time, as prices can vary significantly depending on on-site facilities. For example, a Spa & Capsule hotel with special facilities such as saunas might cost you over 6000 yen per night (the average price would be around $ 53).
Where To Store My Luggage and Other Belongings?
Since capsule hotels are so small, they typically do not have much room for guests to store their luggage. Some might have a small space under the bed, but it is not a given. Besides, we recommend you not to leave any valuable belongings in your pod.
Curtains or doors typically used to open and close your pod are only here for privacy purposes and are not meant to be locked. So, while you won’t receive any card or room key, you might be given a key for a private locker, for example. They will always provide a means to secure your things, like a coin locker or storage room where you can leave your belongings safe while exploring the city.
If you wonder why pods cannot be locked, it is because capsule hotels are technically not considered actual hotels in Japan, thus not requiring a locking system. By law, a capsule hotel is a ¨simple accommodation¨. The needed legal regulations to open a proper inn or hotel are a hassle capsule hotels don’t need to deal with, enabling them to offer better prices.
Showers and Bathrooms
There is neither shower nor toilet in the pods. In pod hotels, you will have to share a public bath, toilet, and laundry facilities with the other guests. Of course, male and female guests use separate areas.
Most of the time, guests can choose between taking a shower using private stalls or washing in the traditional Japanese communal bath area. If you choose the bath, know that you must wash before entering the water. Just go to one of the lined-up head showers, sit on a stool and wash thoroughly. Amenities like towels, soap, and shampoo will be provided on-site. Be careful when entering the water; Japanese shared baths are usually very hot.
Furthermore, note that you must be naked to enjoy the bath since swimsuits are not allowed. If you feel embarrassed about taking a bath with other people, be sure to check ahead of time what kind of washing facilities the hotel has to offer.
It is worth mentioning that capsule hotels have much more to offer than just common washing facilities.
Generally speaking, you will access many other facilities such as drinks vending machines and coin laundry rooms. Moreover, most capsule hotels have areas where guests can relax and socialize. Some even include restaurants, lounges, communal kitchens, and working spaces.
Are There Capsule Hotels for Couples?
The idea of a capsule hotel sounds rather fun and is indeed a fun experience. However, it might not be what you think. Capsule hotels are not the most romantic place to spend a night as a couple. Booking a capsule hotel for a family trip with children is not a good idea either. Many of them don’t accept children, to begin with.
They are mainly designed for one thing: to offer a place to sleep for one adult, usually for a single night. This means you have only little privacy, especially when it comes to noise. Pods are far from soundproof. You will be able to hear your neighbors and even their neighbors. Not to mention the fact guests will come in and go out during the night. This is why many of those hotels provide you with earplugs.
Moreover, know that being demure is part of the Japanese culture, hence the need to avoid public displays of affection between couples. Intimacy in a pod is out of the question.
Most capsule hotels in Japan are men-only or female-only capsule hotels or offer floors reserved for either men or women. If you don’t mind sleeping on a different floor than your partner, one easy option is to stay in a mixed capsule hotel. Although you won’t share the same pod, you will be able to meet in the common areas to enjoy time together.
Mixed capsule hotels allow you to at least sleep on the same floor as your partner and book two pods next to each other. One example is The Millennials, located in Shibuya and Kyoto. Although they are a bit more pricey, The Millennials offer very comfortable smart cabins with a bed reclining and even a storage space under the bed. A regular pod will cost you 5100 yen per guest (around $45).
In the end, finding capsule hotels that offer one pod for two people in Japan seems impossible.
Where To Find a Pod Hotel in Japan?
Capsule hotels can be found in most major cities. Tokyo is home to the most significant number of them, but there are also plenty in other regions such as Osaka and Kyoto. They are often located close to train stations such as JR Shinjuku station. Many Japanese staying in capsule hotels book a pod simply because they missed the last train home and need a place to rest until the next day.
There are numerous types of capsule hotels to choose from in Japan, so you are almost sure to find one that fits your budget. Some famous capsule hotel chains include Nine Hours, Capsule Inn and First Cabin. Those are present in big cities across the country.
You will find below a list of unique and foreigner-friendly capsule hotels you might find interesting:
This futuristic capsule hotel in Akasaka is one of the many others Nine Hours hotels scattered around the country. The hundreds of lined-up pods inside look like they came straight out of a science-fiction movie and give you the feeling you are staying at a space station. The hotel is open 24/7 and offers two separate pod areas for both sexes.
What is unique about Nine Hours is that it analyzes your sleep: ¨Our capsule unit will scientifically measure your sleeping condition¨. Later, you will receive a report which will let you know about your health condition based on the capsule’s analysis. One night will cost you 2400 yen (about $20).
Resol Poshtel Tokyo Asakusa is a charming establishment where you can find both modern and Japanese traditional touches. They offer no less than 110 large cabins of 3 m2 with WiFi, air-conditioning, a space for your luggage under the bed, and all the amenities you could need for the night.
You can choose between mixed cabins or men/women only cabins. It is located in the Asakusa district, near Tokyo station, the Sensō-ji Temple, and Tokyo Sky Tree. It will cost about 2500 yen (around $21) the night.
Capsule Inn Osaka is a very particular capsule hotel. It was the first one to be opened in Japan back in 1979. It has all the basic facilities expected from a capsule hotel plus some extras such as a spa and a sauna. Unfortunately, it is a male-only hotel, so women must forget about it.
It is located in Umeda, a famous and animated district with many shopping streets and restaurants. Prices for one pod vary from 2600 to over 4500 yen ($21 to $40).
We recommended you an excellent men-only capsule hotel in Osaka; now it’s the ladies turn! A-Style Shinsaibashi is a unique women-only capsule hotel close to Shinsaibashi station with its vast shopping complex and Dotonbori, a popular avenue full of classic Osaka street foods and cafés and restaurants.
This capsule hotel tries hard to satisfy the women’s hunger for fashion and beauty care by providing them with various amenities they can use, such as a nano-care facial steamer, hair dryers, and curling hair irons, as well as a number of cosmetics and perfumes. With its stylish design, impeccably clean pods, and affordable prices (around $25 the night), a-Style Shinsaibashi is sure to please the ladies.
Sui Kyoto is relatively small and can welcome only 16 guests. It is a quiet and relaxing hotel with wooden cabins, unlike other regular pods, open from the side and not the back. Although situated in a quiet neighborhood in the north of Kyoto, it is still a good location for tourists who want to visit the famous Kinkaku-Ji, also known as the Golden Temple.
On top of regular services like free WiFi, lockers, and a laundry room, it also offers the possibility to rent bicycles. Elegant and cozy Hostel Sui Kyoto will cost you an overnight stay between $29 and $35.
This typical capsule hotel boasts a prime location in central Kyoto: right next to the most prominent shopping street in the prefecture and a few minutes walk from Nishiki Market. Men-only, women-only, and mixed pod areas are available.
One of the particularities of this hotel is its comfort. Glansit Kyoto Kawaramachi designed original high-quality mattresses based on sleep engineering for their guest to enjoy an unforgettable night. The hotel also offers various services like a free soft drink bar, a women-only lounge, a small inside convenience store, and many toiletries. The price range for a pod would be from 2800 to 4800 yen (around $25 to $42).
Capsule hotels offer a unique experience for travelers looking for an affordable place to spend one or two nights in Japan. They are perfect for those who want to try something new or are on a budget and do not want to spend too much money on a hotel room. So, if you are wondering what it’s like to spend the night in a capsule, why not give one a try on your next trip to Japan!
Commonly Asked Questions about Capsule Hotel:
Expect to pay between 1,000 to 5,000 yen per night, though you should remember that they can be much higher during peak tourist season.
Japanese capsule hotels are usually used for a single night, but you can stay as long as you want. Note that you can sometimes check in 24/24.