What’s it like in a Japanese Capsule Hotel?

It’s gotta be done…My two nights in a Capsule Hotel in Kyoto….

The one thing synonymous with Japan is the capsule or pod hotel, and I knew I had to experience staying in one while I was there.  It’s not for the faint-hearted, so if you want your luxurious bedroom with en-suite, then this isn’t for you. But if you want something a bit different, like sleeping on a spaceship, then give it a go!

The Hotel Reception Entrance

The Hotel Reception Entrance

When I arrived at reception, I was given two keys. The first one is for the shoe locker at reception, where you have to take off your shoes before entering the hotel.  You then change your shoes for little Japanese slippers that you keep and wear whilst you’re there.

Shoe Lockers in Reception

Shoe Lockers in Reception

The second key is for your locker in the showering area.  This is a huge changing room type of area with a row of showers, mirrors, hairdryers and a general place for getting ready for the night and for showering in the morning.

The Locker Area

The Locker Area

 My locker contained a towel, a sleeping robe and a disposable toothbrush and toothpaste.

The contents of my Locker

The contents of my Locker

 The showers also contained large bottles of shampoo, conditioner and bodywash, so everything was supplied if you needed it.

The Showers

The Showers

I had to leave my large suitcase by the reception area along with everyone else’s, as there was no room in the locker for large cases.  All the items that you need from your case, ie toiletries and make up, clothing for the next day, and anything else you require while you’re in your pod or in the showering area, you must take out of your case or you’ll be walking back downstairs in your robe if you’ve forgotten anything!

Then I went off to find my capsule.  The hotel is divided into separate floors for women and men and there are also separate lifts to get to each floor.

Separate Lifts for Men and Women

Separate Lifts for Men and Women

When I opened the door to the rows of sleeping pods, it felt a little intimidating as it was so strange, yet cosy.  It felt like I was on a futuristic spaceship as the lights are kept very dark in the sleeping area. There are two toilets just outside the door of the pod area so if you’re caught short in the night it’s not far to go.

The Sleeping Capsules

The Sleeping Capsules

The basic design of a capsule is that it’s a small, roughly two metres by one metre sized pod, which stack together side by side in a long corridor, and stacked two units high like bunkbeds with steps up to the top floor pods.  Each pod contains a simple mattress, duvet and pillow, some have TVs, (mine didn’t) and a control panel in the headboard area which gives you a charge point for your electricals, and of course you have high speed Wifi.

Inside my cosy Capsule

Inside my cosy Capsule

There’s also a button for ‘Sleep Ambience’ which when you set your alarm for the morning, also controls the lighting in the pod.  The capsule is sealed with a door or a curtain that you pull down for privacy.  They also have ‘couples’ pods for married couples who don’t want to be separated!

Inside the Capsule showing the controls

Inside the Capsule showing the controls

I was quite surprised to see a vast difference in the types of people using the hotel.  I was expecting to see just twenty year old groups of backpackers but there were elderly Japanese couples as well as a lot of single Japanese middle-aged and elderly women. Not the expected hostel-type of customers!

I found the capsule extremely cosy and absolutely loved it.  I would definitely use a pod hotel again when I go back to Japan, without a doubt.

Tips for Staying in a Capsule Hotel:

I stayed in The Nine Hours Kyoto which is a fairly new capsule hotel in the centre of Kyoto which opened in December 2009.

The capsule hotel’s philosophy is included in it’s name “9 Hours” and the concept is 1 hour to shower, 7 hours sleep, 1 hour rest.

I paid £23 for Saturday night and £17 for Sunday night so it’s perfect for the budget conscious!

Check in is around 12 Noon and Check out is 10 am.

Map of where to find 9 Hours in Kyoto:

Author: Debbie

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