Traditionally, capsule hotels in Japan were designed to cater to hard working business men who worked hard into the night, or schmoozed clients over karaoke so successfully that the time got away from them and they missed the last train home.
Stuck in the city overnight, the added expense of accommodation at a capsule hotel didn’t break the bank like a proper hotel would, and supplied them with everything they needed for a pleasant, restful stay even under the annoying circumstances, so that – even with this slight mishap – the savvy business man would still be fresh faced and on his A-game at work the next day.
Today, capsule hotels are frequented not just by business people but by travellers, both domestic and international.
And it’s quite an experience; rather than a private room, you sleep in a large room (segregated into male floors and female floors – though many capsule hotels still only cater to men) with often twenty or more capsules in a room. Like fully enclosed bunk beds stacked two or more high, each capsule has a curtain or pull down door at the end to ensure privacy.
Here are just a few reasons to try out a capsule hotel when in Japan.
If you’re traveling on a budget or just want to make your money go further, then definitely stay in a capsule hotel for a night or two. They are the cheapest accommodation out there, cheaper or on par with a bed in a hostel dorm, but often with a lot more amenities and privacy.
They’re Close to Transport
To cater to those train-missing business people, most capsule hotels are conveniently close to public transport (be it bus stops or subway stations) which makes it easy for tourists to get around, and let’s not forget that they’re often in city centres, right where the action is. Easy!
Don’t Bring a Thing
Expecting to return home in the evening but getting stuck in the city for the night, business men and women often arrive without an overnight bag. What are they supposed to do, sleep in their suit? Don’t worry – capsule hotels have you covered.
If you’re on business or just planning to pop into the area for a day but love it so much you decide to stay (or, as is a common theme in this article, you miss the last train out), capsule hotels provide all the amenities to get you through the night, including pajamas, slippers, towel, toiletries, hair dryers and straighteners, cleansers, toners, perfumes and more.
You can even enjoy a nice hot spring bath, grab some hot or cold food from the vending machine, or wind down in your capsule watching your very own TV.
As opposed to staying in private rooms in hotels where it can be difficult to meet new people, or hostels where you will meet a lot of people but mostly international travellers like yourself, you’ll be pleased to know that capsule hotels have not been overrun with tourists, but still very much function as a place to put your head after a long day of meetings. During the work week, you’ll find that check in really gets started from 9:30pm, when men and women in suits with carry on cases start arriving, putting on the provided pajamas and climbing into the capsules around you.
At Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel, a great capsule hotel in Shinjuku, Tokyo, I met a young girl and her mother in the parlour who were visiting Tokyo for the weekend from Kyoto, not to mention on a Saturday morning I tried to give some privacy to a bride and her bridesmaids in the parlour of the (very fancy, yet well-priced) First Cabin Midousuji-Namba, Osaka, as they prepared her for her big day in the beautiful parlour.
Capsule hotels are a fun change from hotels which can all start to look the same after a while, wherever in the world you are, and really are not to be missed when traveling in Japan. So unique an accommodation experience, you’ll have to tell all your friends about it.