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JAPAN: The Capsule Hotel (カプセルホテル)

With the astronomical prices associated with lodging in many cities across the globe, Japan came up with a unique alternative that is slowly catching on in other cities outside of Japan in such countries as China, Belgium and the U.S.  What I am referring to is the capsule hotel (カプセルホテル) which originated in Osaka (Capsule Inn Osaka) in 1979 and has gained popularity all over Japan.

The standard capsule hotel features a collection of extremely small rooms or capsules (anywhere from 50 to 700 units) comprised of plastic or fiberglass and measuring roughly 6 feet 7 inches x 3 feet 3 inches x 4 feet 1 inch each. These hotels primarily cater to business men who require cheap overnight accommodation without the additional services offered by conventional hotels. They can be found near major train stations in large cities and usually charge ¥2,000 to ¥4,000 per night.  However, these days the demographics are changing. More and more capsule hotels now welcome female guests and offer gender segregated floors or buildings.  The hotels are also becoming popular among foreign travelers and a few “premium” or “themed” capsule hotels have emerged in such places as Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka which charge a slightly higher rate.

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The capsules are typically stacked two units high and are lined up side by side in a corridor.  In addition to the bedding, they are equipped with a light, alarm clock, TV and radio. Some even offer free Wi-Fi service.  There is a pull down shade or a door at the entrance of each capsule for privacy.  The hotels typically offer communal bathrooms and showers and more and more hotels are now adding such services as vending machines, laundry facilities, entertainment rooms, manga libraries, restaurants and lounges. The guests’ luggage and other personal belongings must be stored in an assigned locker and smoking and eating inside of the capsule is not permitted. Oftentimes, guests are provided with a yukata (cotton kimono) and slippers in exchange for their street clothes and shoes while they are staying at the capsule hotel.

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The first capsule hotel opened in Xi’an China in 2012 followed by the first capsule hotel in Europe opening up in Belgium in 2014. On June 13, 2011, a capsule hotel called YOTEL officially opened in New York City Times Square.

In America where size does matter, Yotel offers what they call “cabin” rooms which measure approximately 129 square feet, significantly larger than their Japanese counterparts. There are 669 units packed into a futuristic tower in Times Square with each unit offering its own bathroom, shower, a tiny desk and a flat panel screen TV.  The beds are queen-sized and they sit up against the wall like a sofa during the day. These cabins go for anywhere between $195-$230 and VIP Suites boasting a fireplace, hot tub and terrace are available for $1,500!

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Wherever your travels may take you, today you have the option of experiencing an authentic Japanese capsule hotel or upgrading to a more luxurious facility which employs the capsule hotel concept. There is something to satisfy every taste and budget!

Yotel Web Page:                            http://www.yotel.com/en

Capsule Hotels In Japan:             http://bit.ly/1pVBEsN

(TripAdvisor)

 

 

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