A Stay in a Capsule Hotel
Capsule hotels opened for the first time in 1979 in Osaka in the bustling district of Umeda. During the 1960s, the word “capsule” (“kapuseru” or カ プ セ ル) began to appear in Japanese. Sometimes, English words change meaning when they become Japanese, but the word “capsule” retains a similarity to what it has in English: very futuristic. This is why the word ‘capsule’ was used to describe these small and compact hotels.
Capsule hotels are overnight accommodations that have done away with the idea of a private single room and, instead, have focused on basic needs such as sleeping and bathing to provide a decently comfortable stay at a very low price. The capsule units look like aircraft cabins, and each unit comes with a light, a tiny table, an electrical outlet, and a curtain for some privacy. There are usually two layers of capsules, so there is either someone above you or below you. Capsule hotels generally have separate floors for men and women or are only accessible to either men or women.
Many people think that the only thing that can be done in a capsule hotel is sleeping, but actually many capsule hotels boast nice (shared) bathrooms, saunas, and spacious lounges that are even better equipped than some commercial hotels. They most definitely try to make up for what you lack in space with amenities. In recent years, extra services such as sophisticated business rooms, thermal baths, tablets, pajamas included, a small TV in the capsule, free Wi-Fi, and manga rental services, have made capsule hotels more attractive.
Another very convenient feature of capsule hotels is that it is possible to secure accommodation without prior reservation. This is because capsule hotels have more beds than most commercial hotels. Therefore, many people, such as employees who went drinking and missed their last train, or young people who are in town for an event and want to save on costs, often use capsule hotels.
Luggage is usually kept in the assigned hotel locker as the bed area can’t be locked. In these lockers, you will find a towel and pajamas, very handy for those who were not originally planning to spend the night in the city. Naturally, guests are expected to be quiet at all times so that everyone can sleep as noise travels easily. Usually, the floors where the beds are are shoes-off areas.
As there are a wide variety of capsule hotels, from the most basic to the most luxurious, it is recommended to review several options before choosing where to stay. For those who wish to travel economically and still feel comfortable, using a capsule hotel during their stay in Japan is definitely an option to keep in mind.