When I first heard about capsule hotels a few years ago I was instantly fascinated by them. There is something about them that just seems so unique and quirky, so when we realised we were arriving into Tokyo late in the night and wouldn’t be able to get to our hotel in central Tokyo that evening it seemed like the perfect chance to give one a try. The Haneda Airport actually has a capsule hotel inside the airport named the FIRST CABIN Haneda Airport so after arriving there in the early hours of the morning we headed straight there to check it out.
If you don’t know what the concept of a capsule hotel is, it’s simply a hotel which is sometimes also called a ‘pod hotel’ which is made up of small, bed sized rooms called ‘capsules’. They are cheaper then regular hotels and are usually used just for overnight stays due to their size, so you have to check in and out every day. Often the ‘rooms’ are stacked on top of each other in a corridor and the beds can be accessed by a step ladder. Think of it as a hostel except each bed has it’s own, walls round the bed rather then bunk-beds.
Arriving at the front desk of the First Cabin Haneda we checked in easily and were shown the rules of stay before we were brought to our rooms. The Japanese culture has a heavy focus on respect and with people sleeping in such close quarters it’s important all guests follow these rules so everyone has a good nights sleep.
Capsule hotels are always split by sex, with one floor for women and one floor for men. Your suitcase isn’t allowed in your room due to the space they take up and so I took out any essentials I needed before leaving my suitcase to be checked in. We chose the ‘first class cabin’ room, which is a step up from the most basic room which they call ‘premium economy class cabins’, so we had more space. The premium economy class cabins are more in line with what you expect from a capsule hotel, with just enough room for a single bed which you climb into before closing your shutter door. In out first class cabin we had a larger ‘semi-double’ bed, a small chair and table, and enough room to get out of the bed without needing to climb over it to get into the room. Again this had a shutter door and also a safety deposit box in each room (the rooms can’t be locked due to Japanese law).
Silence is one of the more important rules given upon entry, as the walls between the beds are so thin. The first thing you will notice upon entry to your room are the slippers and pjs which are given to wear to help keep the noise down, no loud heels here! The disposable slippers must be worn anytime you are in the hotel to reduce noise. The slippers felt great but the pjs were clearly meant for someone who was a regular Japanese size which I am not, so I wore my own instead.
Inside each room there is a 32 inch LCD TV mounted on the wall which only play via a headphone link into the wall, headphones are provided for this purpose. After spending some time flipping through Japanese TV channels we got hungry, so I found my sisters room and we headed together into the communal area by the reception where there was a variety of vending machines to get snacks from and more tv’s, so it’s a great place to relax. This is the only area of the hotel that is mixed sex and also one of the only place where you are allowed to eat and drink (there is another area in the women’s floor of you don’t want to be in the mixed sex area). We grabbed a couple of drinks and some noodles and tried to follow the Japanese TV shows.
If you want to make any phone calls or eat away from the mixed-sex area there is a phone room in the woman’s section where you can also chat and hand out, this also contains a vending machine for snacks, although there is less choice. Ours also included a massage chair which you could use for an additional cost. There is also a separate smoking area and free wifi available here and in the cabins. .
One of the most surprising aspects for me was the bathroom area. Despite this being budget accommodation it had the fancy electronic toilets with all the many functions that Japan is known for. The dressing room area around this is bright and well lit and contains complementary skin care, perfumes and hair driers as well as other accessories making it a clean and pleasant place to get ready for the day. They also have a full sauna, however you have to be naked to enter so we decided against using it.
As for how I actually slept there, I can honestly say pretty well. The room was warm and comfortable and they did have individual air-con units for each bed, although this didn’t make a huge difference due to how close the rooms are. Despite the walls being so thin there was minimal noise apart from someone talking on a phone in the morning as they left from their flight which woke me up (now I see why they are so strict on rules!). To avoid alarms going off and waking up others they are all banned, instead you tell the front desk when you need to wake up and they will go around each room personally waking you up at the right time, which worked well for us.
Overall this was a really unique experience, and one I would definitely do again if I had a lay over. It isn’t practical if you want to stay for more then one night but I actually found the experience really pleasant and it was a great way to start our Japanese adventure! Our rooms were 6500 yen or around £46 per night and the smaller rooms are 5500 yen or around £39.
Would you ever stay in a capsule hotel? Looking for more of Japan? Check out my other posts on this beautiful country.