Posted: 17 Mar 2017 Is Staying in a Capsule on Your Bucket List?
It’s a uniquely Japanese experience, staying in a capsule hotel. They’re unlike any other accommodation: Individual pods, sometimes dozens to a room, each a self-contained mini-hotel room, with a bed, lights, and sometimes even a TV. Japan is a small country so their ingenious answer to ‘sleeping lots of people in a small space’ was a good one.
Before you stay in a capsule, you should know what to expect. They are actually quite roomy, you can lie down flat with plenty of room to spare, and you can sit up without bumping your head.
Clean and comfy, most have a uniform set of rules and guidelines which you’ll be expected to follow. They’re a lot like hostels – shared rooms, shared bathrooms and lockers to keep your belongings in. But unlike the stereotypical young, laid back, party vibe of a hostel, capsule hotels have older ages, strict rules and quiet spaces.
The majority of capsule hotels are restricted to men only for some reason. However, newer and nicer capsule hotels have recently opened up that cater to both sexes, where entire floors of capsules are divided into men or women only, always separated. There are also a few popping up around the country that are for female guests only. So if you’re a female, or a couple who wants to stay at the same place, make sure to pay attention when booking.
The norm at a capsule hotel is that when you check in you get handed a set of pajamas and slippers to wear. The first floor of the capsule will be filled with large lockers for your luggage and for changing clothes. Everyone on the upper floors where the food, work stations and capsules are – will be wearing identical pajamas and slippers. Weird but true.
There is generally a shoe locker right at the entrance or next to the front desk. When you enter you’ll immediately take your shoes off and grab your slippers out of your numbered cubbyhole; and then store your shoes in your luggage locker. Any time you leave the hotel, you might be expected to give your key to the front desk clerk and retrieve it again when you return.
While most of the world has come around to acceptance towards tattoos, they’re a no-no in the shared bathrooms of capsule hotels. For many years inked skin has been partially taboo in Japan, due to connotations with Japanese organized crime. If you have tattoos you will need to keep them covered up or not use the shower/bath.
Warning: showering and bathing in private is non-existent. All the showers are in one large room, and there’s a giant tub, filled with naked people. If you’re too embarrassed to shower and bathe in a room with members of the same sex, a capsule might not be in your future.
The capsule hotels are all different. Some have vending machines, some have a free refreshment station, some provide a limited breakfast bar, some have a room with shared tables or desks for laptop use and working, Some have massage chairs, TVs, small libraries of newspapers to read and isolated smoking rooms. Whichever one you get, enjoy! It sounds ‘cap’tivating.
Want to go there? Visit our Japan Country Guide for more information on how to get to Japan.