Capsule Hotels

Ever wondered what it’s like staying at a capsule hotel? Here we explain what they are, how they work, what the costs are, and wherein Japan they are located.

Topics Covered

  • What is a capsule hotel?
  • What do they cost?
  • What is included?
  • What are the downsides?

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What are capsule hotels?

Capsule hotels, also known as pod hotels, were invented in Japan as a means of cheap, yet luxurious and modern accommodation while taking up as little space as possible. The hotel offers guests a lot of amenities, but the sleeping chamber is tiny, and that could be a problem for those who are claustrophobic. The concept has, in recent years, caught on internationally, as these pod hotels can now be found in places such as New York City, Dubai, and others.

What do they cost?

Capsule hotels.
Trueshow111, Capsule hotel, CC BY-SA 4.0

A night in a pod hotel will cost you a fraction of what a ryokan or Western hotel will cost. Prices vary depending on the amenities provided but expect to pay anywhere between $30 to $50 per person a night.

What is included?

So let’s see what is included with the $30 to $50 per night. Not all capsule hotels include the following, as it depends on what you pay. The lower end of the price spectrum will have less of the following, and the more you pay for your hotel, the more of these will be available to you.

Private lockers

At the entrance of the capsule hotel, you will get a shoe locker and another one for the rest of your stuff can be found upstairs. Private lockers such as these are pretty standard at all of these pod hotels.

Free stuff

Who doesn’t like free stuff? All pod hotels will provide you with fresh new slippers, as well as a toothbrush and toothpaste. Don’t be surprised if they throw in free quality shampoo, among other things too.

Vending machines

Capsule hotel vending machines.
Capsule hotels are meant for salarymen who missed their last train home. Therefore, you will find vending machines in many of them that supply fresh work button shirts and ties. gTunes from new york, US, Capsule hotel vending machine clothes, CC BY 2.0

Japan has a tremendous amount of vending machines, and you are guaranteed to find them inside of your capsule hotel too. You can buy drinks and food from them, but many will provide as much free coffee or tea as you like.

Luxurious bathroom facilities

Bathroom facilities are a pretty standard feature, and they can be very luxurious.

Lounge area with free wi-fi

Free wi-fi can be expected from any of these hotels, but lounging areas are usually included with capsule hotels closer to the $50 per night range. Many of these lounges have vibrating chairs, which can be extremely relaxing.


Communal onsens in a pod hotel can be pretty rare, but if there is one, then it will most probably be in the high-end ones.

Capsule extras

The inside of your capsule will have a light dimming switch, which can be handy. Also, look for temperature control as not all of them will have this. You may want it because it can get pretty hot inside of the actual capsule. Some even have extras such as a tv and headphones.

What are the downsides?

If everything up to this point has sounded too good to be true, then here are the downsides. The first being the size of the capsule. Capsules are designed for one person, so space can be very tight – especially if you are a tall foreigner. Most people don’t have a problem with this, but if you are someone who has claustrophobia then it could be problematic.

Another downside is noise. For some reason, the units are not soundproof, so you will be able to hear everything going on in the neighboring units. It’s advised to keep your noise levels down as much as possible – pretty hard to do when your space is very limited.

Related Content

Find a list of other places where you can stay while visiting Japan.