Japan is an incredible country to visit but it’s pricey. If you’re traveling on a budget or you miss the last train and find yourself in need of accommodation, you can stay at a capsule hotel.
Capsule hotels (also known as pod hotels) have been steadily growing in popularity in recent years and more and more of them continue to pop up in Japan’s cities. They are like normal hotels but instead of a normal-sized room, you sleep in a small cubicle.
However, they are much more than just tiny sleep pods. Though they are small, they are also uba-modern, comfortable, convenient, and often include access to luxury facilities such as spas and saunas.
The price of capsule hotels generally ranges between 3000-5,500 YN (US$30-50) a night. This normally includes high-speed internet access as well as basic facilities such as toilets and baths. There are some more extravagant, luxury capsule hotels which are more expensive.
The rise of Japanese capsule hotels
The word “kapusera” (capsule) was absorbed into the Japanese language in the 1960s and carries a similar meaning to the English equivalent: small and futuristic. This word was chosen by the company who opened the world’s first capsule hotel in 1979: the ‘Capsule Inn Osaka’.
The designers laid the successful blueprint which many others have since replicated. There are now hundreds of capsule hotels in Japan and they have even taken off abroad. China’s first capsule hotel opened in 2012 and the first European capsule hotel opened in Belgium in 2014.
Capsule hotel rules and etiquette
When staying in a capsule hotel you’re staying in close quarters with many other people. Many capsule hotels are women or men-only and there are some standard, basic rules which guests have to follow:
- Wear slippers inside. Most capsule hotels have lockers near the entrance where guests leave their shoes and swap them for slippers. They key for the shoe lockers is often left at the reception.
- Capsule hotel robes. Guests are usually given a gown or robe to change into. It is not considered rude to walk around the hotel wearing these.
- Cover tattoos when bathing. Many capsule hotels have fantastic communal baths which are normally separated by gender. Wash your body and hair before bathing and also cover your tattoos if possible. Tattoos are associated with crime in Japan.
- Be quiet and courteous in your capsule. The walls are generally thin and you’re very close to your neighbors. Try to be as quiet as possible to respect the other guests.
Best capsule hotels in Tokyo
Nine Hours Narita Airport
Situated in Terminal 2 of Narita Airport, this capsule hotel is a haven for those whose flights have been delayed or are in transit. It has lockers, showers (toiletries are provided), and a lounge. Hourly rates are available for those who just want a nap and breakfast is available.
First Cabin Akihabara
First Cabin Akihabara is just a 4-minute walk from Akihabara Station, so it’s perfect for those traveling with a JR Pass. Every micro-room has a bed, TV (with headphones), and safety deposit box. There is a lounge as well as a large, public bath where guests can relax.
Green Plaza Shinjuku / Le Luck Spa
If you’re looking for a luxury capsule hotel in Tokyo then this one is perfect. It has saunas, an outdoor bath, hot springs, massage rooms, a napping room, lounge, and restaurant. The facilities are segregated by gender. The ‘Le Luck Spa’ is for women and allows for plenty of pampering.
Centurion Cabin & Spa Akasaka
Exclusively for women, the capsule hotel is just a 2-minute walk from Akasaka-mitsuke Station. The facilities include a sauna, massage chairs, free drinks, and a bath with an oriental interior design. The capsules have large TVs, aroma diffusers, and humidifiers.
Best capsule hotels in Osaka
Osaka Hokko Marina Resort Guesthouse
The guesthouse is for women only and moms can take children of up to 9 years old with them for free. Located on the marina, it is the ideal location for those who want to get involved in yachting or other marine activities. There are also on-site tennis courts and parks.
Capsule Inn Osaka
The first ever capsule hotel is still open. Rooms are only available for men over 19 years old. It is conveniently located just 350 meters from Umeda Subway Station and 1km from Osaka Station. There are sauna and massage facilities and a lounge. Each room has a TV and breakfast is available for a fee.
Shell Nell Namba
This capsule is split into separate male and female sections into two different floors. It is known for its trendy café which provides a delicious breakfast. Rooms have TVS, electric power suppliers, and USB plugs. The beds are soft, comfortable, and allow you to have a great night’s sleep.
Capsule Hotel Astil Dotonbori
Situated in the heart of Minami, Osaka’s main shopping district, it is just a minute’s walk from Namba Station. The floors are separated by gender and there are private showers and toilets. The rooms are spacious and the beds are comfortable. Guests can quickly access many top sightseeing spots in the area.