Capsule Hotels Tokyo – The 10 Best Capsule Hotels the Capital Has to Offer
No mere novelty, capsule hotels offer a good night's rest at rock-bottom prices. We've got tips and tricks to ensure you dream easy, plus a run-down of the 10 best capsule hotels in Tokyo.
The 1970s was an excellent decade for experimentation. Many, the world over, sought to channel the counter-cultural spirit of the previous decade into workable and tangible projects in fields ranging from architecture and design to music and film. In the last great example of its kind, the Osaka Expo ’70 stood as a marker of this period, signalling the start of a high-velocity thrust into the world of tomorrow. Whether this really materialised is open to discussion, but it is certainly apt that one of the most lasting and notorious innovations of the time stemmed from the very same city, though 9 years later. We are referring here, of course, to the famed capsule hotel, the brain-child of Kisho Kurokawa, the revered father of Japanese modernist architecture (see above: Kurokawa’s Nakagin Capsule Tower, sadly apartments, not a hotel).
From grandiose beginnings, the capsule hotel has become a staple of Japan’s accommodation scene, providing a utilitarian yet fun way to get some rest. Though the concept originated in Osaka, Tokyo is now home to the most hotels of this kind anywhere in the world. Commonly, they are cheap, functional and convenient – everything a traveller in foreign lands could ask for.
Keep reading for practical tips and tricks for your stay as well as a run-down of the best capsule hotel joints the capital has to offer.
Capsule Hotel Tips and Tricks:
In line with everywhere else in the country, it pays to be up to speed with the etiquette expected at these places. Though the mixed clientele can occasionally err on the rowdy side, you are still expected to be respectful to the privacy of other customers, take off your shoes whilst inside your capsule and refrain from making too much of a mess. All pretty intuitive, granted.
Be Wary of Price
Capsule hotels are generally cheap and they often pride themselves on this fact, but be careful not to be lulled into a false sense of security. Generally, prices start at around 2,000 yen per night but can rise to around 7,000 yen in some places, especially during peak periods. If you find yourself faced with 7,000 yen per night, it would be a good idea to shop around for other options, as basic non-capsule hotels can occasionally better this in terms of value (especially those offering discount rates after midnight).
Capsules are small but come with basic facilities. Most will include a shutter for privacy, a small shelf and a clock, whilst others may provide plug sockets and even a small TV. The facilities on offer in your hotel probably depend on the age of the establishment and the prices charged.
If you can believe it, sometimes people need a little more space than that provided by a capsule. Remedying this, most hotels offer a range of facilities in communal areas. Arcades, vending machines and even sauna facilities are not uncommon. On top of this, all provide basic lockers for storing your luggage.
Most, but not all, hotels operate a strict gender segregation policy. It was once that they catered only to males, but sensibly, in recent years, female quarters have also been added. Usually, a key will be issued allowing you access to your specific dorm room.
Checking In and Out
Most hotels can be pre-booked online ahead of time, but most also are happy to take on-the-spot bookings should they have room. They were not designed for long-term use so if you want to stay longer than one night, checking in again every day is required. A slightly annoying quirk, but this does allow you to change your plans last minute or even tour a range of capsule hotels over the course your stay. Check-out time is usually 10am.
Top 10 Capsule Hotels Tokyo:
Now for our pick of the top ten capsule hotels in Tokyo (and one surprise entry close to a nearby world famous mountain). Our selections, in no particular order, cover different price ranges, facilities and areas of the city, hopefully, providing something to appeal to everybody.
1) Green Plaza Shinjuku
Tourists gravitate to the neon lights of Shinjuku like moths to a flame, so why not stay there? Choose the Green Plaza and you can. Located slap-bang in the middle of the world-famous district and with amenities that go over and beyond what many might expect, this is a great choice. Until recently this huge complex catered only to males, but now, separate accommodation has been added for females also. The various top-quality facilities are segregated by sex, but they are so good you probably won’t mind. On offer is a sauna, a spa, outdoor baths, massage rooms, relaxation rooms and even a restaurant! Prices are in the mid-range by capsule hotel standards but well worth it.
Price: standard rooms begin at 4,500 yen per night for men and 5,200 yen per night for women
Access: 5 minute walk from JR Shinjuku Station
Address: 1-29-2 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Check in/out times: 3pm/10am
2) Hotel Siesta, Ebisu
The main west-side hubs (Shinjuku and Shibuya) have a tendency to sap your energy quickly. A stay at Hotel Siesta in the fashionable Ebisu neighbourhood could be the remedy for this – allowing you a slower pace whilst still being just one stop from the action. You’ll have no problems finding this place either, with its adjacency to the station and eye-catching signage. The Hotel Siesta brags of the comfort of its custom-designed bed linen, provides high-speed internet for no extra fee and has English speaking staff on hand to aid you should you need it.
Price: a standard capsule costs 3,500 yen per night, though various different rates available (day-rate, early-morning rate)
Access: 1 minute walk from Ebisu Station
Address: 1-8-1 Ebisu, Shibuya, Tokyo 150-0013
Check in/out times: 5pm/10am
3) Nine Hours Narita Airport
Those who have had the unfortunate experience of trying to sleep on an airport bench, whether through cheapness or lack of planning, will be delighted to know that Japanese airports now come equipt with their very own capsule hotels. This one, located in Terminal 2 of Tokyo’s primary international airport, comes at a good price and facilities include showers and a lounge. Perfect for early morning flights or extended transfers.
Price: prices start at 3,900 but depend on the season and go up over the weekend
Access: Terminal 2, Narita Airport
Address: 1-1 Furugome, Narita-City, Chiba 282-0004
Check in/out times: anytime/10am
4) First Cabin Haneda
Haneda Airport, primarily used for domestic and short-haul flights, also offers its own capsule hotel, this time slightly fancier and pricier. The capsules here are probably better described as cabins, offering guests more room to relax and prepare for their flight in. What’s more, the First Cabin Haneda also offers the option of a ‘business’ room, though the only difference is slightly more space. Again, refreshment facilities and even food options are available.
Price: 5,000 yen per night for standard cabin on weekdays (5,300 yen Fridays and Saturdays) and 6,000 yen for a business cabin
Access: Terminal 1, Haneda Airport
Address: 3-3-2, Haneda Airport, Ota-ku, Tokyo
Check in/out times: 7pm/10am
5) Capsule Value Kanda
As the name suggests, the Capsule Value Kanda promises unbeatable prices for a stay in Tokyo. Within walking distance of anime-wonderland Akihabara, this is a solid option for a base on the east side of the city. Capsules are replete with shutters, alarm clocks and dimmer controlled lighting and clean bathroom facilities are on hand for your refreshment. This place is popular so book early to avoid disappointment.
Price: standard rates begin at 2,900 yen though with proof you’re under 30 prices come down to 2,400 yen. There are also regular promotional and seasonal deals (don’t be afraid to ask)
Access: a 5 minute walk from Kanda Station
Address: 1-4-5 Kajicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Check in/out times: 10am/10am
6) Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel (men only)
Another Shinjuku option, this time a little cheaper, but unfortunately, only for the male half of the population. This is one of the larger capsule hotels in the city, complete with communal baths, a sauna and a restaurant. The cheap rates translate into minimum frills, but the service is good and the capsules and bathrooms are clean. The location, in the depths of Kabukicho, suits those wanting close access to entertainment, dining and drinking options. An excellent place to crash after a long day in the city.
Price: the basic rate is 3,500 yen per night, though regular promotional offers bring this down significantly
Access: 5 minutes on foot from JR Shinjuku Station
Address: Touyo Building 3/F, 1-2-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Check in/out times: 4pm/10am
7) Capsule Hotel Asakusa Riverside
Located right next to the station in the traditional Asakusa area, the Asakusa Riverside is yet another yen-saving yet fun classic capsule hotel. The volume of tourists who pass through this area means the hotel staff are well used to communicating through signs and pigeon-English, and anyway, they know what you’re there for. Reviews complain of the patchy WiFi but the in-capsule TV should keep you entertained. Not that you’ll be spending much time here anyway, the location making it the perfect jump-off point for some serious sightseeing.
Price: rates start at a little over 2000 yen
Access: next to Asakusa Station
Address: 2-20-4-B Kaminarimon, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Check in/out times: 4pm/10am
8) Ikebukuro Plaza Capsule Hotel
Ikebukuro is a lot of fun. Busy, packed with shops and entertainment spots and a general vibe that is very modern-day Japan. It also comes highly recommended as a place to base yourself during a trip to Tokyo, offering excellent transport links and tourist information services. Moreover, it’s riddled with capsule hotels for your pleasure. The Plaza is our top pick for its closeness to the station and the high standard of its facilities. Dorms and amenities are gender segregated, but if this doesn’t bother you, they are very well maintained and rarely too busy.
Price: 2,800 yen basic rate
Access: 5 minutes from Ikebukuro Station
Address: 2-12-3 Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo 171-0014
Check in/out times: 5pm/10am
9) FBC Fuji Backpackers Capsule Inn
Yes, Fuji is not Tokyo, but it’s close enough to count. A lot of tourists will take in the old volcano on a day-trip from the city, but to really soak up the area’s majesty, we recommend a small holiday within a holiday. Accommodation close to the mountain can be pricey however and can easily blow a budget in one fell swoop. This is where the FBC Fuji comes in. The hotel offers all the standard facilities plus its English speaking staff are primed and ready to help you make the most of your stay in the area. Hiking trail recommendations, advice on water-sports, whatever it is, they’ve got your back. There’s even karaoke if the sight of the mountain brings you out in song.
Price: a standard capsule starts at around 2,000 yen
Access: From Tokyo, head for Kawaguchiko Station, a 2.5 hour journey costing around (4,500 yen)
Address: 6713-17 Funatsu Fujikawaguchikomachi Minamiturugun Yamanashiken, Kawaguchi-ko
Check in/out times: 4pm/10am
10) I-Cafe Akiba Place
I’ll be honest, this is not a capsule hotel. But, the concept is similar and the price just as cheap. This is one of Japan’s many 24-hour internet cafes, places that act as buffers against homelessness and disconnectedness in this age of capitalist crisis and internet dependency. Often clustered around train stations, these places give guests a small but private booth, equipped with a PC, a comfortable chair and typically, access to a manga library and refreshment facilities. These places can have a slightly unusual atmosphere for the unacclimatised, but the I-Cafe Akiba stands out for its homeliness and fantastic service.
Price: around 3,000 yen for a nine hour stay, though different price plans are available
Access: 5 minutes from Akihabara Station.
Address: 7-8F, 3-15-1 Soto-Kanda, Chiyoda-ku
Check in/out times: anytime