There’s a type of hotel that can only be found in Japan. Of course, this could also be an article about traditional Ryōkan but today we want to talk about a modern trend caused by the overpopulation of city areas in Japan – capsule hotels (カプセルホテル).
The capsule hotel is a Japanese invention of the early eighties with its trademark being a large number of extremely small “rooms” (capsules) intended to provide cheap, basic overnight accommodation for guests who do not require the services offered by conventional hotels.
The guest room is a modular plastic block with the size of a small container. Most capsules include a television, an electronic console and WiFi. The capsules are placed side-by-side, with steps providing access to the second row of rooms. The open end of the capsule can be closed for more privacy, with a curtain or fiberglass door. Luggage is stored in a locker, and washrooms are communal.
Capsule hotels vary in size from about fifty to 700 capsules and are used primarily by men. Some capsule hotels offer separate sections for male and female guests. Clothes and shoes can sometimes be exchanged for a Yukata and slippers on entry. A towel may also be provided.
The benefits of these hotels are convenience and a low price, usually around ¥2000-4000 a night. They provide an alternative for those who cannot return home at night or who want to stay far from home.
Staying at a capsule hotel might not be the best experience on a visit to Japan but it surely feels unique. If you get the chance to spend a night there or you just want to stay somewhere cheap, you should book your own capsule!