The Japanese Love Hotel Experience

WeXpats
2021/10/15

Japan has a variety of accommodations ranging from ryokan, hotels, and capsule hotels. But have you heard of love hotels? They come in various interesting architectural designs like a Princess Castle or shocking pink, and the interior may be equally interesting with dramatic themes. Learn about Love Hotels right here.


Table of Contents

  1. Love Hotels in Japan
    1. Historical Love Hotels
    2. How it started? Japan's First Love Hotel
    3. Modern Development
  2. Things to Know When Using Japanese Love Hotels
    1. Age Limit and other Quick Facts
    2. Average Cost
    3. How to Find Love Hotels in Japan
  3. Love Hotels to Visit in Japan
    1. Castle-Styles
    2. Water Slide in Your Room
    3. Others (Bali Style and Close Access to Tourist Spots)
  4. Takeaway

Love Hotels in Japan

Love Hotels (ラブホテル) in Japan are short stay accomodations for customers to enjoy privacy for intimate physical activities. Though the term “love hotel” didn’t come into play until the late 1900s, the existence of such facilities can be traced back in history.   

Historical Love Hotels 

The earliest traces of facilities akin to love hotels can be traced to the early Showa Period. They were called Enshuku (円宿). In those days, people were more open about sexual activities and openly visited these places. Prostitutes were employed at these places to provide services. 

In the 1600s, the Tokugawa Shogunate introduced a major development that brought a huge change to the industry. Enshuku were restricted to carrying out business in designated redlight districts only. Establishments like ryokans and tea houses slowly started to be used in lieu. 

Around the mid 1900s, the establishments gained a new focus targeting couples looking for a private place for intimacy. These were called Tsurekomi Shuku (連れ込み宿), with Tsurekomi literally meaning “bring one’s lover along”. At the dawn of 1960, a sudden boom brought about the establishment of around 2,700 facilities in the capital itself. Rather than the traditional Japanese inn architecture, most of these facilities after the 1920s had Western influenced designs akin to motels. 

※ Japan Today, "The story of love hotels"

The First Love Hotel in Japan: Hotel Love in Osaka

Knitted heart decorations

History was made in 1968, when the term “Love Hotel” came to be. In that year, a Tsurekomi Shuku named “Hotel Love” was built in Osaka featuring modern rooms. It became an inspiration to other such facilities around Japan, and the term “Love Hotel” as we know it stuck. 

※ Google Arts & Culture, "Love Hotel"

Recent Developments

After the 1960s and the newly coined term “Love Hotel” for such facilities, Japan entered a boom of love hotels. These short stay accommodations were frequented by young couples to enjoy physical activities away from family and neighbours. Keep in mind that apartment walls and floors were thinner and less sound-proofed then (and may be still true of older apartments today).

In the present 21st century, there has been a huge decline of love hotels in Japan. Many young people live alone or with their significant other, rooms are also built to be more sound tolerant. Love hotels had become redundant with the passing of time. The only way for them to survive was to turn towards tourists that were countless in numbers. Now, the majority of love hotels have become open to travelers (to remove the stigma of an unsavoury place). 

※ The Guardian, "No sex please, we're Japanese: love hotels clean up their act amid falling demand"

Things to Know When Using Love Hotels

Floating pink hearts in a room

Interested in staying or visiting a love hotel? Here are some important things to know and other useful tips. 

Quick Facts

  • Usually limited to guests 18 years and older

  • Amenities include complimentary contraception, generally 2 condoms. Though some love hotels have stopped doing this to fit in better as a tourist accommodation. 

  • TV channels have adult material 

  • Peak seasons and time like weekends, holidays, and special days like Valentine’s or Christmas will be more expensive 

  • Late visit discounts may be applicable but you will need to checkout before the cutoff time which will be counted as an overnight stay

Average Cost of Love Hotels

Japan Love Hotel District

Payment rate is subject to your duration of stay. Overnight stays are usually charged a fixed amount, whilst short stays (休憩 Break) are charged by a fixed time plus additional extensions.For example, your first entry is for 2-hours but you’d like to extend your stay. Generally, you will be charged for every additional 30-mins. 

Without further ado, let’s look at the average cost to stay:

  • Overnight ranges between 8,000 to 10,000 yen 

  • Short Stay (2-hours) ranges between 5,000 to 7,000 yen  

Note that just like hotels, there are also budget and luxury love hotels. Luxury establishment prices may go up to 40,000 or higher, especially those with fancy gadgets and features.   

※ Minute Magazine, “【保存版】ラブホテルの相場っていくらぐらい?料金体系についても徹底解説!

How to Find Love Hotels 

The internet is the best resource in this day and age. 

Try Happy Hotel or Couples, websites dedicated to love hotels. You can also find them in regular hotel booking websites like Booking.com

Love Hotels to Visit in Japan 

Not sure what love hotel to enjoy a stay? Try one of these: 

Castle Hotels

Fancy chandelier in hotel room

These hotels have castle-like buildings to make you feel like royalty. 

Hotel Meguro Emperor in Meguro, Tokyo

Conveniently located 5-mins away from the nearest train station, this is a popular love hotel that was established in the 1970s. Its popularity stems from its flashy architecture designed by Japanese architect, Yasuhisa Kurosaka. After the love hotel boom ended, the hotel was bought out by another company who renovated its interiors. 

The Hotel Meguro Emperor has 36 rooms in a luxurious resplendent style. Some rooms come with sauna, jacuzzi, cosplay outfits, and an open air bath.  

Price Range: 

  • Overnight - 9,000 ~ 27,000 yen

  • Shortstay (2-hours) - 5,000 ~ 13,000 yen

  • Extension (30-mins) - 1,500 ~ 4,000 yen

Hotel Chantilly in Akasaka, Tokyo 

Photo Credit: © 2007-2022 ALMEX inc.

The hotel’s tall white castle silhouette stands out amidst the other ordinary looking buildings in the area. Hotel Chantilly has 3 types of rooms with different facilities; soap mat, sauna, and rotating bed. It is located only 1-min walk from Akasaka Station 5th Exit. Compared to Hotel Meguro’s old style rooms with chandeliers, Hotel Chantilly rooms are more modern. Short stay visits are available 24/7. 

Price Range: 

  • Overnight - 12,000 ~ 40,000 yen

  • Shortstay (2-hours) - 8,800 ~ 19,800 yen

Water Slide at Hotel Sekitei in Ichikawa, Chiba 

Photo Credit: © 2013 HOTEL SEKITEI.

Built to resemble a ship, Hotel Sekitei’s design and concept is watery fun. They are most famous for being the first hotel to have a waterslide in a room. From the price of 10,900 yen for short stay and 18,900 for overnight stay, you can have a waterslide all to yourself. Aside from the water slide room, there are another 9 types of rooms available. From economical basic rooms to luxurious ones with jacuzzis and more. 

Price Range: 

  • Overnight - 5,900 ~ 20,000 yen

  • Shortstay - 2,900 ~ 12,000 yen

Other Hotels to Look Out For

Hotel Mju in Asakusa, Tokyo

Photo Credit:  © 2013 Hotel mju

Hotel μ has Western rooms and traditional Japanese tatami rooms. The rooms are available in an assortment of colours to match your mood of the day; pink, purple, green, blue, yellow, the choices go on. The Hotel’s highlight is the cityscape view of Asakusa, and more importantly the Tokyo Sky Tree

Available for rental amenities include curling hair iron, nano care hair dryer, cosplay outfits, and more. The hotel is within walking distance from Asakusa tourist spots like Senso-Ji.  

Hotel Bali An Resorts 

As its name implies, this love hotel is Bali themed. Feel like you’ve been transported to Bali, Indonesia with the hotel room’s design and fixtures. There are 2 branches of this hotel in Shinjuku itself:

Nearby the hotel there are also Balinese spa services where you can get massages and rejuvenate those tired muscles. 

Takeaway

Love hotel in entertainment district japan

Now that you’ve reached the end of this article, it’s apparent there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Love Hotels. It started from what was then seen as a less than moral way of life, to a couple’s hideout, and now has become a tourist attraction and accommodation. The next time you go on holiday, consider experiencing a love hotel stay for yourself.  

Writer

WeXpats
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