Capsule Hotel Tokyo – A capsule hotel is a minimalist accommodation concept that literally consists in sleeping inside a capsule. This very futuristic idea will probably spark your interest and your anxiety at the same time. If you’re thinking we’ll probably end up sleeping in tin cans by the year 2050, think again! Honestly, the whole thing wasn’t so bad; I think I can even say I enjoyed it !
I’m going to give you a list of some capsule hotels you can visit in Tokyo and tell you more about the one I stayed in in a few minutes but let me ask you first: can you guess what portion of the Japanese society stays regularly in capsule hotels?
Japan’s Capsule Hotels: Any Regular Customers?
If you happen to be in a capsule hotel in Tokyo and plan to stay the night, you will most definitely notice that the majority of customers are what we call “salarymen” in Japan. Salarymen is a tiny bit pejorative term to designate businessmen or employees who are basically workaholics. They would be running all over town, wearing suits and ties until very late in the evening. Because those are the kind of workaholics who really stay late at work and by late I don’t mean 9 or 10 PM. I mean something like 2 AM.
Railway activity obviously stops after midnight or sometimes by 1 AM so these people cannot go home and taking a cab is not an option for them, especially if they live far from their workplace. So they end up spending the night at the local capsule hotel. Sounds a bit sad but hey, it’s certainly not worse than spending the night at the office.
Who else uses capsule hotels? Party people! For pretty much the same reasons as salarymen, actually. As they pile on the drinks, time flies by and soon, it’s already 3 AM and the bar is ready to close. Best option? Capsule hotel of course. Japanese people tend to like drinking but they would certainly not make themselves heard when they get back to their hotels at night, or at least not willingly.
What Happens in a Capsule Hotel?
After you’ve booked your capsule and once you show up at the reception desk, you will be given the keys to your lockers. Store your shoes in the first locker and put on a pair of slippers. Be careful not to get inside the hotel with your shoes on; it is a sign of disrespect in Japan to do so. The second locker will be bigger in size; use it to store your bag or whatever belongings you have.
Once you get in the capsules area, you should a capsule number along with the corresponding key, so find yours, open it and draw back the curtain to slip into the bed. You’d think it’s a quite tight space at first but you’ll get used to it and you’ll be surprised to think it’s even comfortable. You’ll just have to remember to be careful when you wake up. If you’re used to getting straight up in the morning, you’ll have to do a few adjustments, just to avoid getting bumps on your forehead.
But just so you know, most capsule hotels have TVs in them although you’ll only have Japanese channels to watch. There’s also a radio, an adjustable alarm clock and a lamp you can turn on to read at night. Might be the bare minimum but those will be your bare essentials.
You’ll find showers and baths outside the capsule area along with a communal space at the disposal of all customers.
Now that you know a bit more about this unique style of accommodation, find below my selection of the 5 best Capsule Hotels Tokyo.
Capsule Hotel Tokyo #1 – Capsule Hotel & Sauna Ikebukuro Plaza (Men only)
The Capsule Hotel & Sauna Ikebukuro Plaza is the one I stayed in and I think it’s a great one. First of all, the price per night is not very expensive and will cost you around $28, which isn’t bad at all considering usual hotel prices in Tokyo. It’s also situated near the Ikebukuro station which is easily accessible namely through the Yamanote line (which should be covered by your JR Pass, if you happen to have one). And finally you’ll have access to a hot water bath and sauna to which you should come prepared (i.e. in your birthday suit).
Last but not least, you should know that this capsule hotel is for men only. There are many men-only hotels like this one by the way but the list includes mixed capsule hotels too so keep reading !
Capsule Hotel Tokyo #2 – The Nell Ueno Okachimachi (Men Only)
While comparing capsule hotels and trying to choose the most convenient one, the Nell Ueno Okachimachi hotel made it to my final list because it offered more or less the same comfort standards for approximately the same prices as the Ikebukuro Plaza hotel, which I ended up choosing for convenience reasons. If you’d like to visit the Ueno area though, this one would be perfect.
By the way, if you want to save some yens when you travel to Japan, make sure you read this blog post: Travel to Japan on a Budget.
Capsule Hotel Tokyo #3 – Capsule and Sauna Rosco
This capsule hotel is a bit more expensive than the first two; the price per night is around $40 and you’ll have access to a jacuzzi and a sauna. This is a great option for women because it’s a mixed capsule hotel where they get to have their own floor.
Capsule Hotel Tokyo #4 – Sauna & Capsule Hotel Hokuo (Men Only)
Capsule Hotel Tokyo #5 – First Cabin Akihabara
This is definitely the Rolls Royce of capsule hotels on Tokyo. First Cabin Akihabara is situated in the Akihabara district and I think we can talk about luxury here, even though it’s a capsule hotel, it’s still quite luxurious compared to the previous ones I just suggested. The capsules look more like real, actual rooms and the decor looks much neater. Let’s say you’ll understand why the price per night is around $85 if you do decide to stay there.
This capsule hotel Tokyo guide comes to its end here. I sincerely hope you’ll enjoy the authentic Japanese experience of sleeping in tiny equipped boxes!
See you all very soon,
PS: If you are looking for more crazy activities to try only in Japan, feel free to read these blog posts: Weird Japan.