What Is A Capsule Hotel And Why You Need To Stay In One

Accommodation is the first thing that comes to mind when we go traveling somewhere; particularly to another country. We must consider what kind of lodging experience we’re looking for; a luxurious week with all the hotel room benefits, or… Just a place to get by for the night? While there are many factors that go into making these decisions (budget, the purpose of travel, who you’re traveling with, etcetera), it’s good to make a list of different choices. If you were to take a trip to Japan, you’d still want to take note of all the deals on high-end hotels, 3-star inns, and of course, capsule hotels. Before you turn away at the idea, let us first fill you in with more information. You might end up liking what capsule hotels have to offer, and may find them just the right choice for you during your next trip to Japan!

The Story Of Capsule Hotels

So, what is a capsule hotel? “Kapuseru Hoteru” in Japanese; it’s a compartment that’s nearly 7 feet long, and 3.3 feet wide. They perfectly encapsulate (pun intended) a single, average-sized human body – in Japanese standards, of course. These compartments/capsules are neatly stacked beside and on top of each other, so you may have around roughly 10 neighbors in your immediate 5-meter radius. The material that is used to construct these compartments is made of fiberglass, so walls are sturdy but relatively hollow, and you may hear some sounds coming from your neighboring compartments. The purpose of these capsules was to give people who were on a budget a place to stay for the night. Customers here usually don’t need the frivolities and services that come with fully-fledged rooms. These hotels were also made to house more guests over such tight and small spots, as Japan’s population (particularly in cities like Tokyo) grows denser and denser.

The capsule hotel concept started in 1979. The first one opened in Osaka, and that hotel is still running until today. As time went on, the demand for these kinds of hotels grew, so more capsule hotel businesses sprouted all around Japan. By 2015, China, Belgium, Iceland, and the Philippines had already borrowed the concept and made capsule hotels of their own. In Tokyo alone, there are 47 capsule hotels open for service!

Facilities In A Capsule Hotel

In terms of facility reviews, if you consider yourself a low-maintenance traveler, you probably would prefer booking in one of these no-frills hotels. Capsule hotels offer communal bathrooms and restaurants (or vending machines, at the least) full of food. Beginning the check-in process in a capsule hotel is a little different compared to a regular hotel. First, when you enter the lobby, you must pick a locker where you leave your shoes. After locking your shoes up, bring that key to the counter, where they check you in. They will then give you another key – this one’s for the locker to hold your belongings. Your capsule doesn’t have a lock, so you wouldn’t want to leave any valuables there. You do still get some soap and shampoo bottles, and a “yukata” (a kimono) for your nightwear. Don’t worry about other people seeing you wear this kimono or robe around, it’s perfectly fine! Feel free to use their shower amenities, but if you’re about to enter an Onsen, make sure you don’t have any tattoos, and that you’ve already cleaned yourself beforehand. Other amenities some capsule hotels offer are spas, saunas, laundry services, swimming pools, and leisure (television/manga/game rooms, so on.). The compartments themselves allow control over the light switch and usually give you the option to listen to the radio or watch some television. If you’ve got to get up early the next day, they’ve cleverly put a built-in alarm clock to wake you up!

Take note that not all capsule hotels are alike. Others have the capability to house hundreds at a time, while smaller capsule hotels stick to 50. There are also newer and more comfortable options in terms of their beds, others offer a little more room to stretch. Even budget-range lodging has its own personal spectrum of high end and low end offers, so it’s always good to do your research.

Accommodation In Japan: Rules In Capsule Hotels

Strict rules keep the dignity and cleanliness of capsule hotels upright. Perhaps the reason why staying in one is so appealing is because of the moderation these hotels have when it comes to their guests behaving during their stay. Though used most often by men, capsule hotels still segregate their compartments depending on sex; male or female. They are not allowed to cross-enter. It is also prohibited to share your capsule with anyone else but yourself. Food and drinks are usually forbidden to be consumed inside the compartments to keep neatness. In the mornings (10 am to 2 pm, specifically), it’s necessary to remove the belongings from your locker and vacate the compartment so that cleaning staff can do their job. Lastly, don’t make too much noise! The fiberglass walls are thin. Got a loud, hour long phone call to make or take? Either tone it down or take it somewhere else.

The Best Capsule Hotels In Tokyo

Though there are upwards of 40 different capsule hotels in Tokyo, we picked the top three best for you. The Prime Pod Ginza Tokyo is one; it oozes with class and sophistication. Not only does their classy, dark color scheme go well with their furniture’s wood finishes, their lighting is relaxing and comfortable. Being a relatively new hotel, it captures the definition of modern convenience; their capsules have flat-screen televisions, high-quality headphones, padded sides, a hanger, and tiny compartments you could place your small personal belongings in (jewelry, or a watch) before you snooze comfortably in their fresh, white linen sheets. For the price of 7,000 yen a night, you could say it’s worth every penny.

Commendable review after review keeps rolling in for Oak Hostel Fuji. Mismatched colors and a funky, eclectic style don its communal areas. Their beds have a look that resembles a bunk-bed type rather than a futuristic pill. This simplicity goes a long way, though, as what pleases Oak Hostel Fuji’s customers the most are their cleanliness and the friendliness of their staff (they understand English, for those who haven’t brushed up on their Japanese just yet!). Right - did we forget to mention the great rates!? 4,426 yen a night is a deal for a single night’s stay! 4.5/5 stars go to this great capsule hotel in Sumida according to guest reviews on TripAdvisor.

A Cheap Capsule Hotel In The Shinjuku Area

Being at the center of Tokyo, Shinjuku is the best place to go to for the busier, bustling, cheaper capsule hotels. This is one among the top two around the Shinjuku area. Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel claims to have some of the lowest rates in the entire area of Shinjuku – 3,500 yen a night! They boast of having a roomy lounge, a spacious bathhouse for men, and a comfortable compartment to sleep in. Not just that – it’s just a 5-minute walk to Shinjuku station. What’s great about this capsule hotel is that it allows short stays – so if you’re looking for a place for a relaxing bath and quick nap, this is it.

Why choose Anshin Oyado Shinjuku?

As a competitor of Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae, Anshin Oyado Shinjuku differs itself in terms of luxury. So if you’re in Shinjuku and want something a little more decadent than a quick in and out that the other hostel specializes in, Anshin Oyado Shinjuku can help you out. High-speed wifi at your fingertips, an internet café you can do your work in, and an artificial Onsen are some of their well-loved amenities. They also offer easy access to Haneda and Narita Airports and a 2-minute walk to the nearest train station. Their Bali-themed interiors give off a fun, tropical appeal – but walk into their capsule room area and you’ll feel a hint of technological savviness with their number tags that light up a bright neon blue, in a comfortable but stark contrast to their “exotic islands” scheme. Simmons’-branded beddings and flat LCD television sets will keep you comfortable and entertained in your little space. This little slice of luxury in the middle of such a busy city will cost you around 10,180 yen – but hey, it’s worth it!

First Cabin Tokyo Haneda: A Convenient Capsule Hotel

In case you never want to miss your flight, this capsule hotel is found in Haneda Airport’s 1st passenger terminal. They liken this capsule hotel to a businessman’s hostel since it’s a small capsule hotel made purely for the short-term convenience of both arriving and departing travelers. Services are more basic and cater to bare necessities; shower booths, public baths, all segregated. You can use their Windows PC for 100 yen per 10 minutes, for example. Vending machines are what replace what are usually restaurants. They do have laundry and drying equipment, which is a big help. If you want to nap here, you can opt for a short stay from 10 AM to 7 PM, for 800 yen (business class), to 1000 yen (first class). A full night here will cost you 5000 (business class) to 6000 yen (first class).

The Nell Ueno Okachimachi: More Competition Arises

Now, this is a classic example of a real, old-fashioned capsule hotel. Being exclusively for men, reviews say you can get deals for as low as 3000 yen here. Their capsules are a little less fancy than their counterparts around Tokyo, but if you’re looking for clean lodging that is purely utilitarian, this is it! No meals are served here, but you do get free wifi, and your capsules still come with a TV and alarm clock. This hostel is found in the prime section of Taito area, so it’s near vital public transit stations.

Asakusa Riverside: Kotobuki’s Affordable Capsule Hotel

Let’s talk pure affordability here: Asukasa Riverside is the place to be if you’re on a budget, or in a fun group. We can’t promise much about cleanliness (though some reviews insist it is!) we can promise you that you won’t bleed from your pockets for one night’s sleep, and its location is decent. If you don’t mind roughing it up a little bit, you this hotel’s address is 2-20-4 Kaminarimon, Taito 111-0034, Tokyo Prefecture. How low are the prices you ask? 2,200 yen for a single capsule room, one night’s stay. Tempting!

Popular Capsule Hotels In Kyoto

There are upwards of 12 capsule hotels in Kyoto. With a location as superb as the center of Kyoto, though, Centurion Cabin and Spa Kyoto is a popular choice for both local and international guests. We can’t help but highlight this building’s location because that’s its huge advantage; branded stores and commercial shops surround it. When it comes to the attributes of their interiors, their capsule rooms aren’t bad considering their rates – around 3,800 yen a night. A flat screen TV to watch a show or two is always welcome, but the preference of the traditional setting of sliding doors all comes down to taste. Not necessarily top-notch in terms of style and privacy, but it makes up for everything in its prime location.

Nine Hours Kyoto

Now, this is a capsule hotel that we recommend because it’s got the most amount high-rated reviews than any other capsule hotel to date. Pristine white in its decoration and design, it makes for an entirely unique lodging experience with its exceptionally minimalist concept. Their capsule containers are very sci-fi like; you feel like you’re about to go on a mission in space as an astronaut. Their bathrooms are immaculate, (and looks like a scene out of a space movie) so that’s another plus. It’s also 4 minutes away by foot from Kawaramachi station. At 4,324 yen per night, it’s something you should check out if you find yourself in Kyoto.

Try These Capsule Hotels In Osaka

As you already know, Osaka is the first place in the entire world to ever have a capsule hotel. If you find yourself in the south of Tokyo and in this city, Capsule Hotel Inn Osaka takes the floor – that’s because it’s the very same capsule hotel that started it all. Previously known as “Capsule Inn Osaka”, Capsule Hotel Inn Osaka has the prestige and perks that go with its name. It’s an hour away from Kansai airport, and it’s also located in the heart of Osaka; right smack in both business and shopping areas. It has a spa, sauna, extra pillows (at your will), massages, wifi, and a complete set of personal hygiene products. A room here would cost you about 8,300 yen, but hey – you get to sleep in the first capsule hotel ever made!

Why Choose Asahi Plaza Shinsaibashi?

If history isn’t your thing and you just want value for money no matter what, Asahi Plaza Shinsaibashi is a fantastic option. It’s incredibly large and very commercial, so everything is professionally taken care of and overseen. Their reception is up for 24 hours, and you still get your toiletry kit. The Shinsaibashi metro station is just a 5-minute stroll away – that’s if you aren’t distracted by a Mah-Jong game in their game room. For a standard capsule room for men, you pay about 2900 yen. Not bad!