A trip to Tokyo is not complete without an overnight stay at a capsule hotel. If you’re like most people, chances are that you’ve never heard of this peculiar type of accommodation; here’s what you need to know:
A capsule hotel is an extremely small living quarter, or “capsule”, that is mainly used to provide cheap overnight accommodation for guests and lacks the “sophistication” offered by traditional hotel standards. The capsule itself is around 2 by 1 by 1.25 meters and typically come with basic amenities such as a television and wireless internet connection. In addition, the capsules are so tiny that their often stacked upon one another and arranged side-by-side, with curtains or fiberglass doors are situated at the entrance to allow for privacy.
Capsule hotels have separate floors for men and women, as well as separate bathrooms that are shared by the guests. Luggage is stored in a locker area, and guest must check-in and out each day before and after a specified period to allow for capsule cleaning. Lastly, most hotels will provide a common area where guest can mingle, buy snacks, use the internet, read books, and watch television.
I had a chance to stay in a capsule hotel located in the Shinjuku area of Tokyo for 3 nights and it was quite an awesome experience. I was able to rest comfortably and never felt too confined the space. As a solo traveler, I was able to chat with other expats in the common area and share interesting stories. Best of all, my stay at the hotel was at an affordable price and conveniently located directly across from Shinjuku’s popular shopping streets.
Moreover, I did face two issues with staying in a capsule hotel: One, guests needed to check out of the hotel each day around 10:00am and couldn’t check back in until after 4:00pm, meaning that if you wanted to stay-in for awhile to relax, you’d have to pay a fine for each hour past 10. Two, staying in a capsule can feel pretty uncomfortable after a wild night of partying. If you’re hung over, for example, you’ll need a spacious area with fresh air and quick access to the toilet, of which staying in a capsule doesn’t provide. Trust me, I found out the hard way!
In all, I’d definitely recommend staying in a capsule hotel for the solo traveler and people who are only doing a short stint (i.e. 2-3 days) in Japan. If you’re a couple, family, or even plan to party every night, I suggest booking a conventional hotel!
Sources: “Capsule Hotel”. Wikipedia.org. Retrieved 1-5-2016.