This is a capsule hotel. At least, one type of capsule hotel.

You’ll find them across Japan, originally conceived as a way to provide cheap & basic overnight accommodations. But, as I learned on my most recent trip – the concept of the capsule hotel is evolving.

Take for instance Nine Hours, a minimalist, futuristic brand of capsule hotels. You can rent per night, or even for a few hours to nap or   freshen up. 

Guests are separated by gender and have access to their own locker, private shower, toiletries, uniform, and of course, their own capsule to sleep in.

In these capsules, you’ll typically find fresh linens, electrical outlets, and even an alarm system tied to the lighting in each capsule, to minimize the disruption to other guests.

At other upscale capsules, you’ll find even more.

First Cabin, another brand of capsule hotel, is completely redefining the potential of these spaces.

Based on around an airport theme (which is fitting, since this location is literally in Haneda Airport in Tokyo) you’ll find rows of cabins of two sizes: business class, and first class. The first class cabins offer a little bit more space, with a TV, night stand, and a lockable compartment for your valuables, since the capsules themselves can’t be locked according to law.

Again, each guest is provided with a uniform, slippers, toiletries, and access to all the amenities: common areas with vending machines, laundry facilities, and a gender-segregated shower & spa, which is great to relax in after a day of exploration and travel.

And the best part? One night’s stay only costs between $40-50 USD.

Capsule hotels are a great option for travellers who have a tight budget, or who just want a unique experience. They’re not nearly as claustrophobic as you might think, and the upscale capsules offer amenities that you’d normally only find in luxury hotels. I actually even made a friend at one that I stayed at in Tokyo – so think of a capsule hotel as a more refined version of a hostel. They’re affordable, clean, and almost always located close to attractions and train stations.

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