My Ultimate Guide to Capsule Hotels in Japan | Solo Female Travel
As a country, Japan is a dream to visit for every solo female traveller. No matter what you love, Japan has it for you. You are never disappointed when in Japan. If you love glitzy and bright lights, explore futuristic Japan in Tokyo. If you love a slice of history, take a train to Kyoto. And if your one and only love in life is food, you are in for a literal treat when in Japan. And not just inanimate objects, Japan will make you fall in love with its quirk, the ever-smiling people, and their unique culture.
But then they say, dreams don’t always come true. Because sometimes our budgets may not be enough to visit the Land of the rising sun. And while we can get a good rate on train tickets if we buy the JR pass, enjoy delicious street-side delicacies at a reasonable rate, or even spend time enjoying nature well within your budget. But the one place where it gets a little tricky when it comes to spending in Japan are places of accommodation. Where you stay, the night might cost you more than what you spend in days because hotels in Japan sometimes do cost a bomb, and you always might not be able to get a great discount or a deal.
But remember when I told you that Japan has something for everyone? So Japan’s answer to pricey accommodation is capsule hotels. What is it, you ask? Well, why don’t I give you a rundown on this type of accommodation and why you should absolutely book it. Make sure you are ready for the ultimate capsule experience as a solo female traveller in Japan.
What is a capsule hotel?
Capsule hotels are Japan’s unique and one of the best options for lodging. These are usually found at some airports, train stations, and all over the major cities. For spending a night on a low budget, there is nothing better than a capsule hotel. They provide the basic amenities, but it’s not as spacious or lavish as a hotel.
Where did it begin?
The first capsule hotel was actually not in the capital city of Tokyo but rather in Osaka. It was opened in 1979 and was designed by one of the leading Japanese architects, Kisho Kurokawa. It still stands today and is considered one of the best capsule hotels in Japan.
Why is it called a capsule?
Capsule hotels or pods, as they are also known, got their name from the fact that the places of accommodation resemble a capsule. It actually does. When you look at it, you cannot but wonder if this is indeed the inside of a spaceship. Instead of rooms like in a hotel, bed-size capsules are stacked one on top of the other.
How big is a capsule?
An average capsule hotel ‘room’ will be around 1.5 m wide, 2m long, and probably a metre high. So, you can well imagine that you won’t be able to stand inside these capsules or if you are too tall, sitting might also be a problem. Also, let me give you a prior warning. If you are in any way claustrophobic, these capsule hotels are definitely not your cup of tea.
Where do you keep your luggage?
If you stay at a capsule hotel, your luggage can not make it to the little pod. So where do you keep it then? Well, you will have to most probably keep your suitcases at the reception. But for your personal belongings, you will be given a locker. But the lockers are not attached to the capsules. You will find them in a separate room before you enter the capsule or pod.
How much do I have to pay?
In the beginning, capsule hotels catered to mostly businessmen who needed a night’s rest before taking an early train the next morning. So, these hotels also mostly catered to men. But times have now changed, and the capsule hotels are now accessible for everyone and are a big hit among solo women travellers. One of the biggest reasons for that is because the price of spending a night at a capsule hotel generally ranges from 3000-7000 yen, which is quite reasonable for a place of accommodation.
Also, you can book the capsule hotel only for a night. So, if you want to stay at a capsule hotel for more than a night, remember that you have to book again. But don’t worry. You can always talk to the people concerned and ask them to give you the same locker for your belongings.
What are the amenities provided?
All capsule hotels provide basic amenities like an air conditioner, a single futon mattress, lights, free wifi, a power outlet, a blanket, and maybe a pair of pajamas. As you go higher up the price scale, the amenities available to you get more. You can have a TV, alarm system, towels, robes, soaps, shampoo, toothbrushes.
Some capsules also provide a common public bath and saunas.
But there is no lock because there are mostly no doors to shut. It is usually curtains or a shutter, and it can be a problem if you, unfortunately, have indisciplined and rowdy neigbours.
Do men and women stay in the same place?
Well, the answer is yes and no. While there are some mixed pods, usually the floors in a capsule hotel are divided on the basis of gender. There are also women-only capsules in the country. But they are way fewer than men-only. So do check properly before booking one.
What basic etiquettes should you maintain while staying at a capsule hotel?
If you are enjoying the essence of a capsule hotel in Japan, you need to keep in mind some etiquettes that you need to adhere to.
Well, this one goes without saying because you share walls made usually of fiberglass with your neighbours in a capsule hotel, and the walls are pretty thin. Try and be quiet, and if you are watching something or listening to music, do use your headphones. Well, the snoring at night cannot be helped, but at least you can take care of the peace when you are awake.
No outside food
Most capsules do not provide food. So, you have to eat outside before coming back to the capsule. I would advise you against bringing anything back into the pod because food sometimes leaves a foul smell hours after you have eaten it, and that will be uncomfortable not just for you, but the smell may waft through the air and bother your neigbours as well. But it doesn’t mean that you have to go hungry if you have food cravings at night. Most capsule hotels provide vending machines, and Japanese vending machines are one of a kind!
So, what is the experience like?
Now that I have answered the questions that might have popped in your head before booking a capsule hotel while on your female solo trip to Japan let me walk you through what the experience is really like. The process of staying at a capsule hotel may seem intimidating at first, but trust me, it isn’t all that difficult. Also, most places provide instructions in English, and because of a greater influx of foreign travellers, most people at the desk can communicate in English.
A few things you need to keep in your mind
1. You enter the capsule hotel and confirm your booking at the front desk. If you have big suitcases, you can ask them where to store them. They will then hand you your locker keys which you must keep safe.
2. Keep your personal belongings in the locker and take off your shoes and keep them inside too. Remember, you are not allowed to walk in with shoes on in most places of Japan, including a capsule hotel. Wear socks underneath which you can keep wearing. Also, most capsules give you a pair of clean slippers that you can use.
3. Do not take any personal belongings to the pod with you, especially if it’s expensive because the capsules don’t have doors, and even if Japan is one of the safest countries out there, it isn’t worth taking the risk.
4. Start with a bath before changing into a fresh set of clothes for bed. You can either wear your own or go for what the hotel provides for you.
5. Once inside the capsule, pull the blinds or curtains for privacy. The purpose of the capsule is just to sleep. After walking around to explore different nooks and corners of the country, you will yearn for sleep. So just crawl into the capsule, put on the eye patch, plug in your headphones, and play some soothing surround sound (this is a helpful trick to avoid outside noises), and hit the snooze button for the night.
Some of the capsule hotels you cannot miss while in Japan
Scattered around Japan, this capsule hotel gives you a look into the future. The dimly-lit corridor and pods look straight out of a sci-fi movie. The name comes from an urban legend that says you can only stay in a capsule for nine hours! But the good thing is that you don’t have to check out every single day here, unlike other capsule hotels.
The most-known Nine-hours hotel is in Terminal 2 of Narita Airport in Tokyo and is absolutely perfect if you are reaching the country late at night or have an early morning flight to catch.
Average cost: 7000 yen per night
2. Book and bed
If you have ever wondered what it felt like just nodding off in a bookstore with your favourite book on your chest, you need to stay the night at Book and bed. This capsule hotel is found in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Fukuoka.
Beds here are tucked away between bookshelves, and the whole experience has a novelty in it that you cannot miss being a part of. But remember you have to take utmost care of the books, and also it is just for reading and not for sale.
Average cost: 6000 yen
3. First cabin
I don’t know about you, but I have always dreamt of travelling in business or first class when I plan my female solo trip. But when I think that I would be burning a hole in my pocket, I take a step back. But it is something I have always yearned for.
I finally lived my dream in a capsule hotel. Yes, you heard that right. The first cabin is located in most major cities, and this is luxury within a budget. This is almost a hybrid between a regular hotel and a capsule. The pods here are actually called cabins, and you can choose between first-class and business class cabins. The difference between them is only in size.
There is a lovely lounge area, and you can even get alcohol from the vending machines here! So be ready to pamper yourself and make use of that imagination, and think that you are indeed in an airplane!
Average cost: 6000 yen
Located in one of the best locations in Tokyo, the Akihabara Bay Hotel is special because it is a female-only capsule hotel. It is safe, clean, and provides basic amenities like wifi, laundromat, luggage storage, but apart from that, it also provides some really amazing beauty products, especially for female guests.
Average cost: Around 5000 yen
Well, as the name suggests, this is one all-female capsule hotel that will help you soothe those nerves and relax. Located in the Akaska area in the center of Tokyo, you have the option to choose between economy, superior and deluxe.
Apart from the basic amenities like towel, toiletries, free wifi, you can also use the shared bath and avail services like a sauna, spa, and a massage. How relaxing does that sound now?
Average cost: 4000 yen
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.