There are several bucket list items that you’ll likely want to do when you come to Japan. And we’ve been knocking lots of them off on this trip. Japan is great for unique experiences – and one of them, the capsule hotel has been on my list for several years. There are challenges, as a couple, heading to a capsule hotel, and they’re likely not the best place to get a decent night’s sleep, but they can be a great experience, so here’s my Nine Hours Capsule Hotel review and details of what you can expect in a capsule hotel to see if it’s worth putting your Japan bucket list.
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I’ve had long layovers at airports in the past and booked into tiny rooms to get a few hours sleep and an all-important shower between flights, but the idea of a capsule hotel is just so very Japanese that we had to squeeze it into our recent trip to Japan. If you’re new to Japan, or even the idea of capsule hotels in Japan I’ve included a whole long list of questions about capsule hotels. If you have a question that I haven’t answered, then drop me an email, or ask in the comments and I’ll get it included for you.
Whether you choose to snorkel, dive or just visit, this is the best thing to do in Kota Kinabalu – visit the Marine Park of Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Head out for a fabulous time – but book early.
Here’s all you need to know about capsule hotels in Japan
Here’s what I wanted to know before I stayed at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel in Japan. And how I picked that particular capsule hotel for my experience.
What is a capsule hotel?
A capsule hotel is also known as a “pod” hotel. The capsule hotel was originally developed as a concept in Japan with bed-sized rooms – literally, that’s it – the room is the size of a bed, with shared bathroom and shower facilities.
The world’s first capsule hotel was designed by a leading Japanese architect, Kisho Kurokawa, and opened in Osaka in 1979. Originally the Capsule Inn, it has been remodeled several times, and you can now still stay there. It’s currently called “New Japan Umeda”, but sadly it’s only for men and their website is only in Japanese.
Designed for the business traveler, who in Japan has been primarily male, as a cheaper place of lodging, when all you actually need is a clean bed, and somewhere to clean yourself too. Some capsule hotels now cater to both men and women, although usually the facilities (and beds) are segregated (different floors for the different sexes)
Where can you find capsule hotels?
Originally you found capsule hotels around train stations and business districts in Japan. Now you can find them in many cities, and the central areas, as they’re becoming more popular with foreign visitors. You can find capsule hotels to book online here.
What facilities are there are capsule hotels?
Your capsule or bed will have clean bedding, a pillow, power outlets, WiFi access, and a door or curtain to your pod. There may be a small shelf for your phone. You’ll have access to a locker, which will be near the entrance to the capsule hotel itself. You store all your big bags and gear in that locker and also, extremely importantly, your shoes. Capsule hotels require that you take your shoes off inside the hotel and use the provided slippers.
Share toilet, bath, and shower facilities are all available. The type of shower/bath facility will depend on the capsule hotel you book into. The shower facilities at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel were fantastic. Great, spacious showers, with fabulous hot water, great water flow and a huge area (within that private lockable area) to get changed. There’s more in my review below.
Some capsule hotels also have shared lounges entertainment areas or even restaurants too.
Can you get a capsule hotel for couples?
Traditionally capsule hotels are designed for singles, however, you’ll now find some specific capsule hotels for couples, where you can stay in adjacent capsules on a male/female mixed floor. The Millenials brand is the most famous capsule hotel for couples. They have capsule hotels in Shibuya and other areas of Japan. You can check the options available here.
Do you get any sleep in capsule hotels?
It’s going to depend on the location of the capsule hotel and your neighbors at the capsule hotel whether you get any sleep or not. I’d definitely take earplugs to be sure, but then I’m a light sleeper.
Are capsule hotels cheaper than hotels?
If you’re a solo traveler then a capsule hotel is most likely cheaper than a regular hotel. If you’re traveling as a couple then it’s very unlikely that a capsule hotel will be cheaper than a normal hotel. However, there may be deals on – and especially during holiday sale times, you could find a deal that makes the capsule hotel cheaper than normal. I use booking.com as my booking engine of choice for Japan and you can find their deals here.
Do you get privacy in capsule hotels?
Usually, yes, you get privacy in capsule hotels, it depends on the capsule hotel that you choose. Some capsule hotels have “doors” on your capsule. Some have curtains. They’re usually not very well noise insulated though. All the shower cubicles at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel had lockable doors, with a changing area included in the shower area too.
What’s the procedure for staying in a capsule hotel?
On check-in, you’ll be assigned your capsule, and the staff will confirm what time you’re leaving, to try and be more efficient with the capsule that you’re assigned. You’ll be told where the bathrooms are and where your locker is.
When you enter the locker room this is where you need to leave your big bags, your shoes, and anything else that isn’t going into the capsule with you. Most capsule hotels are VERY strict about NOT taking big bags into the capsule area. If you’re going to need to repack you’ll have to do that in the locker room.
Normally you’ll then progress to the bathroom, take a shower or a bath (there are usually both baths and showers available). Suitably cleaned, dried, and outfitted in your pajamas, head to your capsule and sleep. You can access the showers, bathroom, and locker rooms as many times as you need during your stay.
On checkout out follow the instructions for what to do with your used towels, pajamas, and slippers, and off you go, ready to face the world again! Want to read what my experience was like? Keep going that’s up next!
Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Review
I’ve explained that there isn’t really the concept of capsule hotels for couples. If you can find a capsule hotel that allows both men and women, then you’ll usually be on separate floors in the building. So that’s why I decided to stay at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel solo.
The Nine Hours Capsule Hotel for Women at JR Station Kanda (near the east entrance) has a great option if you want to try a capsule hotel but aren’t sure if it’s for you, then they have an option to book a few hours during the day for a discounted rate! You still get the exact same access to the capsule hotel that overnight guests have, but you have it for a limited number of hours during the day. You can still use the showers, get a bit of a nap, and store your gear in the lockers. This daytime access option is available at many other capsule hotels, just check the details if you prefer to experience the capsule hotel this way.
Checking into the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
I’d booked my stay through booking.com, so presented myself at check-in time, and handed over my passport for verification that I was who I said I was. The receptionist confirmed what time I’d be leaving and assigned me my capsule, explaining that the lockers were just through the entrance door, what floor the showers and bathrooms were on, and what floor my capsule was on.
My keycode to access the door, the WiFi, and my locker is a QR code on a card.
On check-in, I was told that I’d find my goodie bag for staying there in my locker. And off I went, off to the locker room
Storing my Gear at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
The first room you enter at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel is the locker room. All the lockers are big and clearly labeled.
There’s even a hanging space, although for very short clothes! And there was my goodie bag with two towels, pajamas for my stay, some slippers, and a toothbrush and toothpaste pack.
(and yes, the pajamas were western-sized. I’m a UK size 14 and they were lovely and loose and comfy!)
My shoes came off and went into the locker, and the slippers went on my feet. I left my big bag in the locker and took things that I’d need (personal toiletries, my small daypack, a change of clothes, my laptop, and my phone).
And then it was off to the elevator (lift) to find my capsule. The lift is clearly labelled and you can’t get lost.
Finding my Pod at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
Finding my particular capsule was really easy. They’re clearly numbered. And it was empty when I checked in, so I wasn’t disturbing anyone. Weeks of travel in Japan have me being very quiet anyway, but this was spectacularly quiet. Inside my capsule is a pillow, clean bedding and it actually looks pretty spacious.
The capsules here at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel are two high, and I’ve been assigned to the “upper deck”.
Inside my Capsule at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
It’s actually pretty big in here. And it feels airy. I was worried that it would be claustrophobic and hot. It wasn’t. The pillow is comfortable, the couple of shelves are small but my phone fits on there and the walls are comfortably curved, so there are no uncomfortable corners.
So once I’ve checked out my capsule, made sure that the power sockets in there work and I can actually get into it (it was easy). The sockets in the capsule are USB, so there’s no need for my Japanese power adapter, which I brought along just in case.
Taking a Shower at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
Oh my, this is really nice. There’s a choice of fully enclosed with lockable door cubicles with showers or a couple with baths. And it was all empty and really clean when I checked in. There are separate wash basins and toilets with wash basins inside the room.
And really, really spacious shower cubicles and a changing area that has useful things like shelves. And even more the changing area didn’t get wet when I had a shower. It’s bliss.
The shower water flow was amazing. Hot if you wanted it hot, cold if you wanted cold. There are toiletries if you want, or use your own (my guide to eco toiletries for travel is here). And the towels are big, fluffy and very, very clean.
Stepping out of the shower, there are heaps of hairdryers, so you don’t need to bring your own. They all worked (I checked).
So I dried my hair dropped my used towel into the “used towel basket” and headed up to my capsule. In the lift. If there are stairs here I’m not looking for them, I’m just going straight to bed.
Sleeping at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
Climbing into the capsule is easy, there’s a handrail and several steps to my upper deck pod. (and I climbed out the same way I went in, i.e. backward). Then pulled down the blind and shut the world out.
There’s a bit of light that comes through on the sides of the blind, and it doesn’t stop any noise, but I’m hoping that my neighbors will be as quiet as I plan to be.
The pod is really quiet, but I do have earplugs in, just in case. I got a bit of work on the blog done, then shut my laptop down and closed my eyes. I napped well. Didn’t hear any significant noise or get any disturbance and had a really, really pleasant stay. I’d definitely recommend it.
Check out at the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
When I was ready to leave, I headed back to the locker room, retrieved my big bag, repacked my clothes and toiletries, left the slippers and pajamas, put my shoes back on, and handed my capsule QR code pass back to reception. It’s all really, really easy.
Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Review Rating
I loved it. I had a great stay, had a good sleep, a fabulous shower and I got some work done while I was there. The capsule was quiet. There was only one other person on my floor and they were at the other end of the hallway. I’d give it a 10/10 and I’d definitely stay again. I felt very safe, the pod felt secure, and even having been given the upper pod was fine, the steps up were easy and very secure.
It’s one of those unique Japanese experiences, like the ryokan we stayed at in Kinosaki (which was glorious).
Travel Tips for Exploring Japan
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Japan > discount coupon here
- Read our guide to the Japan Rail Pass here
- Check the details of the 2023 Japan Rail Pass Increases here
- Buy your Japan Rail Pass before you arrive in Japan
- Book the best tours and guides in Japan on, GetYourGuideand Klook
- Learn to cook Japanese food in Chef’s kitchens in Japan
- Save money in Japan with a Wise debit card
- Find the right accommodation for you via Booking.com
- Book an incredible ryokan experience in Japan
Final Words on My Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Stay
Staying in a capsule hotel is a fabulous way to experience a bit of unique Japan and I loved my stay there. It was a little daunting at first, but then so is everything that you’ve never done before. The staff were friendly, it was very easy to navigate. The showers and shared bathroom were fabulous, the mattress in the capsule and the pillow were very comfortable, and far from being an airless tiny place, I found it to be airy, comfortable, and a great stay. I’d definitely recommend the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel!
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