In Japan, capsule hotels are a common form of cheap accommodation. It’s a simple solution for packing a lot of people into a small space.
A few steps from Fukuoka’s Hakata train station you’ll find the Hotel Cabinas. In the lobby, guests take off their shoes and put them in a small locker before approaching the reception desk. At 11am, I was relieved they allowed me to half check in. This means I could stash my big backpack in the locker and was granted access to the spa area. To get into my capsule, I’d have to wait until 5pm.
Enter the Capsule
I did sneak away from the spa for a while to explore Fukuoka and get a taste of their esteemed ramen noodle. As five o’clock rolled around I was getting excited to see what my capsule would be like. Each floor had long aisles of probably a hundred or more capsules, stacked two high. I choose the upper. Each capsule was little over two meters long, high enough to sit upright, and as wide as a single bed. A screen rolled down for a little privacy and darkness and a TV was installed for entertainment. An alarm clock was also included.
Surprisingly the capsule didn’t feel claustrophobic at all. I got one of the best night’s sleep ever. Even though sound can get through the shade screen, it remained quiet inside the pod. Well rested, I went out for another bowl of ramen first thing in the morning before enjoying the hot tubs again.
A Very Japanese Experience
I didn’t see any foreigners at the hotel, it was primarily used by Japanese businessmen. Although there are a few varieties, this capsule hotel was considered better than average and for men only. The nice spa and bathhouse area, as well as restaurant, put Hotel Cabinas in a higher class.
I’m not sure why capsules haven’t caught on the rest of the world. There is always a market for budget accommodation and I found the capsule quite comfortable. This one cost me 3,900 yen ($42 US), but I’ve paid as low as 2,500 yen ($27) for a simpler capsule (without a spa) in a smaller city. That one allowed women as well as men.