If you would describe yourself as penny-pinching but definitely not claustrophobic, Japan has the perfect accommodation for you. Capsule hotels are one of the most iconic types of dorms in the world, offering lots of very, very tiny pods for people to sleep in for an even teensier cost.
The very first capsule hotel went by the name of Capsule Inn Osaka, which opened in 1979. The rest of the world took a few decades to catch on to the trend, but capsule hotels can now be found in China; Belgium; Iceland; Hong Kong; India; Mexico City Airport; the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, Philippines; and all over Japan.
So why choose a capsule over traditional digs? We already mentioned the cost; a single night at the Capsule Inn Kinshicho will run you about $28 a night. The prices are competitive with hostels, but capsules add an element of privacy, at least while you sleep. The amenities of each self-contained pod vary, but you can expect a clean bed, lights, outlets and sometimes A/C, TV, WiFi, and in-pod storage.
The bathing facilities in Japan are unanimously spotless, but like the capsules themselves, they have varying vibes. Some, like the Capsule Inn Kinshicho, offer a (not very) traditional-style Bath House experience while others feel more like a locker room (albeit, a very tidy one).
In addition to the cramped quarters, there are often some drawbacks to staying in a capsule hotel; The pods can get rather warm, especially if there is no A/C. So if you tend to run hot, look for a hotel with A/C. Noise can also be an issue as there’s a very thin barrier between you and your 50 new best friends — bring earplugs. Lastly, some capsule hotels in Japan segregate the men and women on separate floors — and a few don’t accept women at all — so do your research before you blindly book.
If you cannot handle small spaces, these are definitely not the digs for you. But if you’re looking for a cheap, memorable, distinctly Japanese experience, these pods are the perfect place to get some shut-eye.