While exploring accommodation options in Tokyo I stumbled across the quintessential Japanese experience – staying in a capsule hotel. Since I was traveling during Sakura (cherry blossom season, one of Japan’s peak tourist seasons) many of the hotels were either booked or sky high in price. One of my favorite things to do when I travel is stay in unique accommodations; the capsule hotel seemed to fit that bill and my budget.
What is a Capsule Hotel?
Capsules are individual living quarters that are lined next to each other and usually stacked two by two.
The capsules are very basic; they generally include a TV, light, mirror, fan, alarm clock, wifi, and outlets for connecting electronics. Everything else is a shared space, such as the bathrooms and lounge areas.
Fun Fact: The first capsule hotel opened in Osaka, Japan back in 1979. At the time they were used as cheap accommodation options for businessmen who didn’t want to travel home after the work day.
What are my thoughts?
I stayed at Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Hotel. The location is perfect, right in the heart of Shinjuku and about a 10 minute walk from the Shinjuku station (once you find the correct exit out of the station). It is also located right above The Hub, an “English style pub”.
After checking-in, I headed up to the women’s only floor. Most (if not all) capsule hotels have separate floors for men and women. The women’s floor is spotless, much like the rest of Japan. A large sign is next to the entrance asking for people to be quiet. I like this. Silence is always good when trying to sleep.
Walking through the women’s floor, I felt like I was walking through a floor of tiny human microwaves. It reminded me of an automat from the 1950’s.
There are aisles and aisles of capsules. I would not want to come back drunk for I’d probably get lost and pass out in the wrong capsule.
Where do I stash my stuff?
There is a locker room with gym sized lockers that can hold some of your belongs. Anything bigger than a carry on could be stored on some metal racks alongside the lockers. Not my ideal option, but I know my backpack and big ole booty weren’t going to fit in the capsule comfortably.
They are very nice for a shared space! There was a room for getting ready that is lined with mirrors. It has free toothbrushes, lotions, face wash, towels, hair dryers; whatever you need to get ready is available to you.
The women’s shower room is nice as well. Again, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash is all included and every shower had an individual stall. Also, the toiletries are Shiseido brand, that’s a pretty nice brand to have in a budget accommodation. My hair was silky smooth the next day! This however cannot be said for the men’s floor. My travel partner informed me later, when he walked into the men’s washroom there is only an open space with benches and hand held showers. He insisted on mentioning that there was an older gentleman, sitting on the bench, legs spread, washing his gooch for all to see. So, I too feel the need to share that with you.
I find my capsule and sign with relief, I have a bottom capsule. Whew. No one needs to see me struggle to try and get into a top capsule. I am just not good with bunk beds and the like. Ask my sorority sisters, we had lofted beds in our sorority house and every night was an adventure watching me try to scale the bed….and those were the nights I was sober. Forget about the nights I’d come home after drinking! Eventually, I put a mattress in the middle of the floor for such occasions. I digress…back to the capsule.
The capsule is basically like a plastic container, complete with a sleeping pad, pillow, and sheets. There is a TV, non-working fan, outlets, a personal light, and other nobs I didn’t want to touch in case they turned something on that made a lot of noise. The size was fine and actually pretty comfy.
The Good, the Bad, and the Smelly
- Shinjuku location
- The fancy toiletries
- The cleanliness
- I actually didn’t mind sleeping in the capsule.
For me, one night was enough. I am glad I did it, but I don’t need to do it again. I am not high maintenance but I love my sleep. And I got about 3 solid hours of sleep in the capsule hotel.
Why did I only get 3 hours of sleep?
- There was some chick across from me jingling her keys to her locker on the ground, then unpacking all of her crap, and zipping up all of the zippers on God knows what. She was being an overall menace to the whole “silent rule”.
- It reminded me too much of sleeping in a 24 dorm bed hostel. Back when I was 20 this would have been fine, now, that I am quickly approaching 30….not my thing. I like my own space. This isn’t a jab to all of you hostel lovers, I still stay in hostels. They are great for meeting people and of course you can’t be the price point, I just tend to stay in private rooms.
- The Snorer. WOMAN, you sound like a man! Get that shit checked out! If you have a snoring problem a capsule hotel is not for you. I am not sure where she was located; she could have been 3 capsules down, she could have been 3 aisles down…she was fucking loud and I am pretty sure everyone on our floor could hear her.
- Drunk Mother Fuckers. Drunk people don’t have a filter, much less a sound filter. Enough said.
- Remember when you were a kid and you’d slide down the slide at playground? You were wearing shorts so your thighs rubbed against the plastic and made a loud fart sound? Yea, well when you fart in a capsule it makes the same sound.
Overall, the capsule hotel was very clean and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is into the whole unique accommodations thing, doesn’t mind sharing, and on a budget.
What are some unique accommodations you’ve stayed in? Have you stayed in a Capsule Hotel? One time I stayed in a bus in New Orleans.
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