Born from the innovative lands of Japan, capsule hotels have become the newest travel trend that’s quickly sweeping across the globe. Born out of the necessity to get the absolute most out of the limited amount of space available, these compact little private booths have revolutionised the world of accommodation.
Capsule hotels provide a cheap and simple overnight stay for people on the move, and as such, have become their own unique category of accommodation somewhere between hotels and hostels.
But what exactly are they? What are they like and is it as uncomfortable as people think? Let’s answer all that and more as we find out everything you need to know about capsule hotels!
Table of Contents
What Are Capsule Hotels?
First opened in Osaka in 1979, capsule hotels quickly went down a storm with the Japanese businessman looking for a simple place to spend the night after a few too many drinks while also offering a hot shower before work the next morning. Most important of all, they were cheap!
Rather than having a stack of bunkbeds placed precariously close to each other, each guest is provided their own private capsule or pod that you can close either with a door or a curtain. These stacked pods are typically fitted with power outlets and lamps while the fancier ones might have with your own A/C unit or even a TV!
What Do Capsule Hotels Include?
As much as it may surprise you, each capsule does not include a private bathroom! What they do have are communal bathrooms like you would find in any hostel. Each comes with segregated showers and, if you stay in Japan, then you might be lucky enough to have an Onsen or sauna to use too!
The amenities in the hotel has a similar range as you would find in any other accommodation. While some have basic tea and coffee making facilities, others have bars, lounges, gyms and, being Japan, manga-renting services!
Though these types of hotels originally gained popularity amongst Japanese businessmen looking for a cheap place to spend the night, they also became popular with Japan’s travelling youth for that same reason.
In recent decades, however, the real customer base throughout the world has been backpackers, as these hotels are effectively just hostels with added privacy! Thus, such hotels have become incredibly popular amongst travellers and have begun to pop up across the world.
Hostels are the lifeblood of backpackers around the world, but plenty of people don’t want to stay in them.
As capsule hotels were specifically designed to provide a cheap overnight stay, they are amongst the cheapest accommodation you can find. The good news for budget travellers is that they are about the same price as hostels, though much more value for money thanks to added privacy!
In Japan, expect to pay between 2,000 and 5,000 yen/night, though that might get higher during peak travel seasons.
Many capsule hotels these days even come with different types of dorms. Typically, they’re mixed gendered with a double-figure number of capsules stacked upon each other. You can find some rooms that have a smaller number of beds, but you might have to pay more for the privilege.
These days many hotels offer female-only dorms or might even offer entire floors for separate genders. If you look hard enough, you might even find female-only hotels!
Beds for Couples
Oh yeah, they exist! Some capsule hotels offer dorms for couples or even beds for couples! These are much less common, and you shouldn’t expect luxury, but they do exist! Some hotels simply slide the walls out between two capsules to make a larger one.
And a word of advice, try not to fool around if you can help it. The sounds and vibrations tend to resonate throughout each capsule…
Many travellers face a tough decision; should you travel as a group or travel solo
It’s a big decision, so here are the pros and cons!
This is the biggest question people have when it comes to capsule hotels. Though they might resemble those morgue freezers you slide dead bodies into, they’re actually incredibly cosy and not the least bitcramped!
Sure, you don’t have room to stand up, and might even struggle to sit up in a few, but once you’re lying down then you have more than enough room to toss and turn.
That being said, if you tend to get claustrophobic, then it might not be for you.
Benefits of a Capsule Hotel
So why would you stay in a capsule hotel? What’s the appeal of staying in them compared to a budget hotel or a traditional hostel? Well…
1. They are much cheaper
Capsule hotels are usually the cheapest form of accommodation available, especially in Japan!
2. They offer more privacy than hostels
You won’t have to deal with the creepy guy staring at you as you change or have to listen to some guy scratching his balls a little too aggressively.
3. No real need to book
As they’re more efficient with their spaces, capsule hotels offer more beds than typical hotels, thus they’re less likely to be booked out.
On top of that, they were made to be last-minute accommodation when you have nowhere to go at night, so there should be plenty of room at the inn!
4. Hostels 2.0
Capsule hotels are just better, more private and more comfortable versions of hostels while remaining the same price. So why wouldn’t a backpacker go for them?
5. It’s an experience
Come on, you have to try everything at least once!
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A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.