Photo:sean on Flickr

Capsule Hotels: Small Yet Exciting & Convenient

If you have traveled to Japan, you have probably noticed the many luxurious hotels, ryokans, and love hotels that are available.  The Japanese really go beyond ordinary when it comes to hotel comforts and the capsule hotels (kapuseru hoteru) are no exception providing a small, compact room for sleeping, yet gives you a new hotel experience you cannot find in many countries.  They have become popular due to their unique lodgings and affordable prices at only about 2000-4500 yen.  These hotels may provide rooms with only enough space to lay down, but really are fascinating spots where you can get a good-night’s rest without having to go for broke.

Photo by Peter Woodman on Flickr.

Capsule hotels are most common in Japan’s big cities near the train stations.  A typical capsule hotel has a hallway on each floor which contains over 30 futuristic rooms.  Each room has an individual space for a bed with a comfortable mattress, pillow, and blanket with just enough room to roll around in.  Modern capsules also have a surprising variety of electronics including a TV, headphones, reading lights, alarm clocks, all types of chargers, wireless Internet, and even tablets to keep you entertained while you rest.  Some will have complimentary toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, mouthwash, and hair brushes so you would not need to bring your own toiletries.

Architectural Genius - outside view of capsule hotel

Architectural Genius - outside view of Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo
Photo: maurizio mucciola on Flickr

The beds are quite exciting to sleep on giving you the feeling of being a torpedo in a submarine or an astronaut in space.  Which is why they have become more popular in recent years and more have been constructed with exotic themes.

An inside view of amenities inside the capsule rooms.

An inside view of amenities inside the capsule rooms.
Photo: Yohmi on Flickr

Most capsule hotels have the signature Japanese accommodations.  Like separate locker rooms to keep your shoes and suitcases in.  You can change out of your heavy work clothes and into the light pajamas and slippers they provide.  You are allowed to freely soak in the hotel’s saunas and public baths that Japan is famous for.

Personal Lockers at a Capsule Hotel

Personal Lockers at a Capsule Hotel
Photo: Tokyo Times on Flickr

In the lounge there is even a manga library where you can find a seat and read a good yarn.  If you are hungry, there are many vending machines serving whole meals and cool drinks you can pay for with your pocket change with free coffee and miso soup.

These hotels are not just for spending the night in.  They can be used for taking a quick power nap in between your schedule.  You can pay for 30-90 minutes of sleep in your own capsule and still be granted access to all of the items mentioned above.  They have so many rooms available that it is easy to just walk in and sign in at the front desk rather than book a room far in advance.

Photo: Carlos Santiago on Flickr

Capsule hotels were built for Japanese salarymen who would finish work late and were too exhausted to walk home or had missed their trains and needed a place to sleep.  Today they are an exciting cultural staple for tourism in Japan.  Because they are so small, they are cheaper than business hotels and just as comfortable.  Most are men only but there some that offer men and women capsules.  If you want to impress your friends, take them to one of these where they can feel as if they are sleeping in a spaceship.

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