Whether you’re looking for budget accommodations or searching for a unique hotel experience in Japan, you’ve probably come across capsule hotels at some point. They certainly provide a different way of staying at a hotel at a very affordable price tag.
If you’re not familiar with this type of hotel accommodation, you’re probably wondering what a capsule hotel is in the first place. Also known as a pod hotel in some countries, a capsule hotel provides guests with capsules which are essentially just sleeping spaces. Think of it as your own personal cocoon amidst many other cocoons. Depending on the hotel, you can even get some pretty nice capsules without breaking the bank. It’s quite popular among tourists who want to stick to a budget and Japanese business people on out of town trips.
Before you book a capsule hotel for your next trip to Japan, here are some things you should keep in mind to help you make your decision.
Types of Capsules
As their names suggest, capsule hotels provide people-sized capsules for sleeping. If you’re uncomfortable in small spaces, it’s probably not a good idea to book at a regular capsule hotel. Experiencing claustrophobia won’t make for a good vacation after all.
But nowadays, there are many more options to choose from when looking for a capsule hotel. There are some that segregate floors by gender while others have mixed-gender floors if you’re traveling with someone of a different gender. For female travelers, female-only capsule hotels exist and provide amenities like hairdryers and skincare products for their guests.
And now there are even capsule hotel chains like First Cabin that offer larger capsules at a slightly higher rate. While they may not be the size of a regular room, some of these deluxe options offer a little more space—some even have a table! Depending on where you choose to stay, a lot of the newer capsule hotels in Tokyo and other cities offer some upgraded capsules to choose from if you want just an extra bit of space.
Take Off Your Shoes
When you enter a capsule hotel, the first thing you might notice is a locker to the side or a rack of slippers. Guests are required to take off their shoes and wear slippers while they’re in the hotel. Don’t worry about losing your shoes, though. Once you put them in the locker, you can take the key to keep with you during your stay. And don’t forget to grab a pair of slippers to use inside the hotel, but don’t forget to leave them outside your capsule when you go to sleep.
Mind Your Bags
If you’re traveling with large luggage, be sure to ask the hotel staff where you can store it. Most capsule hotels have lockers for bags but some of them can only fit carry-on luggage. However, many hotels will hold larger bags behind the concierge desk while others have storage rooms for them. Either way, it’s best to travel light so you don’t have to worry about storing large luggage. But for your small valuables, many capsules have a safety box where you can put stuff when you’re in the shower or while you’re sleeping.
Remember that capsule hotels have a lot of capsules on every floor. And since you only get your own personal pod, that means that showers and toilets are shared by everyone on the floor. The hotel staff cleans them regularly, but expect to encounter a little bit of traffic from time to time, especially if there are a lot of people checked in.
You might also notice that some hotels have little shower stalls and a giant bath to the side. In Japan, people wash up in the shower before they soak in the tub. It’s frowned upon for someone to go into the bathtub directly. Keep this in mind if you plan to relax in the bath after a long day of touring.
Since capsules are often side by side and stacked in rows on top of each other, it’s quite possible for you to hear your neighbors. That’s why capsule hotels encourage guests to keep quiet at all times when they’re on the capsule floors. Even if you manage to book a place where a TV is provided inside your pod, the use of headphones is required to keep the noise to a minimum. Keep this in mind if you’re staying with friends and feel like chatting for a bit. You might have to head to a different area to talk.
If you’re not into the idea of staying at a capsule hotel, don’t worry. Japan has a plethora of unique accommodations that you can check in to—from hip hostels to minimalist hotels. Don’t forget to rent a portable Wi-Fi or get your own SIM card so you can stay online while you’re on the go!
*Featured image via Mr. JK on Shutterstock