There’s something undeniably bizarre about capsule hotels: rows upon rows of strangers sleeping in individual booths, each one fronted by a large transparent window through which other strangers can watch them…
Yet the concept – an unexpected hybrid between kennels and a morgue(!) – has become so popular in Japan that it’s now quite ordinary for the businessperson and budget traveller to spend a night. Well, if you can’t beat them, join them!
9h | nine hours, Kyoto
Nine Hours Kyoto is Japan’s most modern capsule hotel: a one-of-a-kind establishment with sleek interiors and monochrome décor.
The accommodation discriminates by gender, with separate floors and elevators for men and women.
Guests are welcome to stay for up to 24 hours, and every capsule is equipped with a “Sleep Ambient Control System” to aid the efficient sleep / wake process.
Shinjuku Kuyakushomae Capsule Hotel, Tokyo
One of the newer capsule hotels in Tokyo, the Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae offers pristine individual capsules and shared washroom facilities.
Sleep with your key on a rubber bracelet around your wrist, and take advantage of the communal sauna and bathhouse, which – in contrast to the capsules – is palatial.
There’s also a female-only floor: for those who would rather not sleep among strange men.
Asahi Plaza, Osaka
Offering affordable and flexible capsule-style accommodation, the Aasahi Plaza contains hundreds of capsules with one-night or five-hour nap plans.
All standard room rates include free use of TV and Sauna, while guests may also opt for the group room option that provides accommodation for up to four people, and comes equipped with an automatic mahjong table.
Hotel New Gyominso, Tokyo
There’s something nostalgic about New Gyominso, whose faded décor and pale green-cream colour scheme gives the impression of 1970s Japan.
It should not to be overlooked for its more modern competitors, however, as each spacious capsule is equipped with LAN, a refrigerator, a hairdryer, and a selection of hotel toiletry products.
New Gyominso also offers great views of the Sumida River, and has a standout restaurant that serves delicious buckwheat noodles.
Capsule Hotel Kobe Sannomiya, Kobe
The mission statement of Capsule Hotel Kobe Sannomiya is to heal guests as they sleep – which isn’t half as creepy as it sounds.
The individual capsules are fitted with very few distractions to ensure a good night’s sleep, and there is a communal relaxation room, sauna, and hot bath to help guests unwind.
Capsule Ryokan, Kyoto
Capsule Ryokan offers a unique blend of traditional Japanese culture and high-tech, modern capsule living.
Ideally located just seven minutes from Kyōto Station, the hotel comprises a mix of ensuite rooms, with king-size tatami bed and monsoon shower, and the world’s first individual tatami capsules, screened with a shoji-style window and bamboo blind.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guide to Tokyo cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas.