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When it comes to easily accessible and most certainly a unique experience, Japan's capsule hotels are on top of the list. The minimalist style's peak, sleeping in a capsule hotel is a one of a kind experience. You cannot say that you've tried everything Japan offers without trying it out.
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Japan offers a plethora of exciting activities, especially for tourists who would want to explore Japan. Because Japanese hotels often get booked quickly (not to mention it can be a range from a tad bit expensive to quite the expense for the average tourist), capsule hotels are here to save the day!
Capsule hotels are very small spaces that are lined up together in a row. It usually consists of a small bed and basic amenities. Capsule hotels are typically offered to both businessmen and tourists who want to experience Japan in a truly unique way. Capsule hotels provide affordable overnight beds popular among tourists who tend to shy away from expensive Japanese hotels.
The Capsule Inn was the first capsule hotel to be built in Japan back in 1979. (More on this place later!) Because of its affordability and accessibility, other capsule hotels slowly gained momentum not just in Japan but also in other Asian, and some European countries as well!
※ New Japan Umeda, "Capsule Inn Osaka"
A capsule bed typically is the main amenity provided by capsule hotels. It is a small bed just enough for one person to sleep in, contained in what are usually stacked pods. With the bed comes other basic amenities in a hotel like pillows and blankets, and of course, outlets. Depending on the capsule hotel you will be staying in, some capsule hotels also provide gadgets such as a small TV, radio, and an alarm clock. Capsule hotels either just have a curtain or a sliding door that you can use to close for your privacy.
With travel and hopping from one country to another, very accessible pre-pandemic, capsule hotels are gaining momentum in the traveler’s choice for travel accommodations. Initially, capsule hotels were meant for business people who spent their days working hard in the office and their nights drinking with their buddies, missed the last train and needed a quick place to spend the night. Eventually, because of the accessibility and affordability of capsule hotels, it became a trend and a norm for tourists to book in capsule hotels instead of regular hotels.
Capsule hotel amenities usually include a sauna or bathroom space that is shared with other guests. Capsule hotels also offer the basic amenities of a regular hotel like toiletries and towels, though this largely depends upon the capsule hotel. Free wifi and power plug-ins are also provided to guests. Since capsule accommodation is tiny, most of the spaces are being utilized. For example, you can store your small items like your passport, small bag, wallet, portable laptops in your capsule bed headboard or in a lockbox if provided. Most capsule hotels do not provide free meals to guests; hence guests should have their meals outside of the hotel in nearby cafes or restaurants.
The only difference with capsule accommodation is that since capsule hotels have limited space compared to hotels and other types of accommodation, a separate locker is provided for tourists to store their luggage before proceeding to their capsule bedspace.
The check-in process for capsule hotels is very similar to the check-in process of other hotels. You just book and present your identification upon checking in. The check-out process is the same as well where most guests check-out in the morning or before lunchtime.
While capsule hotels are primarily for men, there are capsule hotels that provide amenities for women, albeit in a different room, floor, or even building!
It is worthy to note that there are capsule hotels that can cater to couples too, but those are the exception and not the norm in Japan. An example of a capsule hotel in Japan that allows women and men to stay on the same floor is Unplan Kagurazaka which is located in the heart of Tokyo City. Although they also offer private family rooms and private double rooms, they have a mixed dormitory floor too. Unplan Kagurazaka is considered as one of the more contemporary types of capsule hotels in Japan where hip and young millennials and tourists usually frequent. You can check more details by visiting their website directly.
To be quite fair, the price of capsule hotels have gone up since the beginning, especially since tourists began to use them as well. The price range of capsule hotels in Japan ranges from about 3000 yen for the bare minimum to 6000 yen on average for a night’s stay depending on the location and amenities they offer. Capsule hotels are still cheaper as compared to ryokans which can cost anywhere around 5,000 to 120,000 yen per person.
※ New Japan Umeda, "カプセル ルームご宿泊料金" ※ Japan Ryokan & Hotel Association, "The Fee System & Prices"
You can find capsule hotels almost anywhere in the country. Here are a few that have good reputations with both locals and tourists.
What is cool and unique behind the name of the famous 9hours Capsule hotel is that this hotel encourages the guests to stay for at least 9 hours to rest and rejuvenate. The capsule hotel also has a very fresh and vibrant modern aesthetic that appeals to the younger generation of tourists and locals alike. You can find these capsule hotels in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sendai. The price depends on the location and feature of the 9hours capsule hotel. Please note that there are additional charges should you use their facilities such as an additional 700 yen for the use of the shower anytime during your stay.
Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel is a few minutes walk away from one of Tokyo’s bustling stations, Shinjuku Metro Station, and accessible to department stores, movie theaters, and the bustling nightlife of Kabukicho. Capsule accommodation at Kuyakusho is strategically placed near the common areas here everybody can hang around and stay. What you see is what you get for this capsule hotel as it offers the basic amenities for travelers and tourists such as TV, free wifi, electrical charging ports, and laundry services. Price varies depending on the peak season rates.
Capsule Inn, the very first capsule hotel as we mentioned above, is right smack at the heart of Osaka City and is only offered for male guests. The aesthetic of this capsule hotel is more traditional as compared to other more contemporary capsule hotels. It also offers luxury spaces such as a spa, a sauna, an indoor pool, and a Jacuzzi. Private non-smoking capsule accommodation costs around 3,400 yen to less than 5,000 yen for a deluxe capsule. You can even get a capsule with no mattress and no access to their spa or sauna services for the real “original purpose” of the capsule hotel of literally just spending the night for only 2600 yen on weekdays. Check-in time is 12 pm and check-out time is 10 am.
※ New Japan Umeda, "カプセル ルームご宿泊料金"
Capsule or pod hotels indeed are one of the best and unique ways to experience Japan. Although it has less privacy plus your baggage is separated from you, it is a great alternative to the costly hotel room accommodations too! Capsule hotels not only offer accessibility and affordability to wandering tourists, but it also offers you a glimpse of the Japanese minimalist culture. If you’re staying in a rather big city and don’t know where to get started on accomodation, how about checking out a capsule hotel?
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