Whilst I was in Japan, I managed to stay in three capsule hotels (as well as three hostels!). They’re aimed at Japanese salarymen who usually crash there for the night before heading back to work the next day, but I think they’re a great option for travellers, too, as they’re generally a tad cheaper than a hotel/hostel. However, I found it super difficult to find a female-friendly one, as most of them seemed to be male only. Here’s my experience of one that I stayed at in Tokyo.
It was raining when I exited Kayabacho metro station. Clouds as grey as the tarmacked roads and raindrops the size of white road markings. After a fast-paced ten minute walk I crossed the small bridge, passing soaking-wet fishermen on my right and moored boats bobbing from the wind on my left. I turned the corner and thankfully, there on my left was Oak Hostel Cabin, my hotel for the night.
I checked in, took the lift to my floor and… well, my first impression was that it looked like a morgue! There were roughly four separate rows, each with eight capsules, four on the bottom and four on the top. All I could see were small pockets of yellow light shooting out from each pod, and they looked kind of retro, too. They were painted dark-red on the outside and cream-coloured on the inside. I had one of the top pods, by the window, where I could see the same boats that I’d passed by on the bridge.
It’s not the easiest of tasks, making your bed when you’re on the top pod and working with limited space, but once I’d finished, I was able to take a proper look around the inside of my capsule. My rucksack was in a separate locker and I had enough room for my other bag at the end of the pod (one of the few perks of being 5″3), and up by my head was a shelf, a plug socket, a small lamp and the air-con.
Staying in a capsule hotel was ideal for me, because I knew I wasn’t going to be spending much time there. It was my last weekend in Tokyo, and I’d done well with my budget, so it was time to reward myself. I spent the day shopping in Shibuya and Harajuku before heading to AiiRO Café, Shinjinku, that night. We were celebrating a friend of a friend’s birthday, and it was the type of bar that could squeeze in about ten people before everyone else had no choice but to spill out onto the street. It was also an all-you-can-drink ‘beer blast’ that night, so needless to say it was a pretty good turnout! At the end of the night, after a quick 7/11 snack(s), I made the same journey back to the hotel, minus the rain, and collapsed in my capsule for a well-earned sleep. That was another good plus– I didn’t have to put up with anyone’s snoring 🙂
Behind the reception on the first floor, the hotel had a large common room and kitchen, so there was still the option of getting to know the others staying there. It was great to have my own space and ultimately decide when I wanted to socialize. After all, sightseeing can be tiring work, and there have been times in the past where I’ve returned to the dorm and been forced to make polite chit-chat with someone who still hasn’t realized that they’re the culprit with smelly feet. But anyway. Back to the point.
If you’re heading to Japan then I’d definitely recommend staying at a capsule hotel, even if it’s just for the novelty of being able to say you’ve done it! It does also encourage you to use the hotel simply as a bed for the night, and to see as much of Tokyo, Kyoto, or whichever city you’re in, as possible!
Have you ever stayed in a capsule hotel before? Let me know in the comments below!