My Experience Staying in A Luxury Capsule Hotel in Japan

My Experience Staying in A Luxury Capsule Hotel That Costs ¥4,900 per Night!

Accommodation in Tokyo, one of the most densely populated cities in the world, is often expensive and difficult to find – especially if you’re traveling in odd-numbered groups, or traveling solo. Instead of booking a hotel, hostel, or even an Airbnb, why not try staying in a high-tech capsule hotel for a change?

Image credit: 9h ninehours

Originally created to cater to the weary Japanese salarymen who had to work late and miss the last train home, capsule hotels have evolved from being a cheap option to provide one with the bare necessities needed to get through the night. It is now a memorable experience that even tourists can consider as a budget-friendly accommodation choice!

When staying in a capsule hotel, your bed is essentially your room. You do get some privacy with a pull-down screen, but the capsules typically cannot be locked. Toilets, showers, and other amenities are also shared, and you’re not supposed to consume food inside the capsule pod.

Image credit: 9h ninehours

My two friends and I spent a night at the Shinjuku-North branch of 9h ninehours, a capsule hotel chain established in 2009 that promises to take this revolutionary concept to a whole new level. This minimalistic capsule hotel believes in a simple idea – that whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, there are only three basic needs that have to be met for a refreshing overnight stay, and they can all be met in nine hours or less. One hour for a hot shower, seven hours for a good night’s rest, and another hour to get dressed for a new day.

Here’s what it’s like to stay in a high-tech capsule hotel.

Image credit: 9h ninehours

1. The check-in process was smooth and easy

Guests can check in 24 hours a day. This is great for travellers who are arriving in Japan at odd timings. It should also be easy to get to the capsule hotel, as the eleven branches are all located within three minutes of major airports, train stations, or in the heart of the city.

As we were heading to Kawaguchiko by highway bus early the next morning, the convenient location and ease of checking in and out were two of the main reasons why we chose to stay at the Shinjuku-North branch, which was just a short walk from the Shin-Okubo station and the Shinjuku Bus Terminal.

For the Shinjuku-North branch, there’s no reception on the ground floor, so go straight into the lift and head up to the eighth floor.

We had already made our reservations online, so that probably helped to make the process even smoother. The check-in process was facilitated with the use of iPads, and after making payment, we were each given a paper keycard with a unique QR code that would open our allocated lockers.

Image credit: Expedia

You then hold onto your luggage and take another lift to your designated floor (separated by gender for more privacy), which has everything you need – toilets, lockers, and the sleeping area. As the lockers are quite tall despite being narrow (width 34cm x depth 60cm x height 150cm; a movable shelf is fixed at the 90cm level), there should be enough space for you to store average-sized luggage. Otherwise, you can leave your larger luggage in the storage area at the reception and just take your valuables with you.

2. You can essentially arrive with just the clothes you’re wearing because almost everything else is provided for

We were pleasantly surprised to find that our lockers also came with a black mesh bag containing everything that we would need for the night, so we didn’t even have to open our luggage to get our own toiletries. There were disposable slippers that we were asked to change into, comfortable free-sized loungewear, a toothbrush, and a face towel. All shower cubicles have shampoo, conditioner, and soap, so all you really need is a change of clothes for the next morning.

capsule hotel

Image credit: A Girl Must Wander

There’s also a spacious lounge area with long desks and power points behind the reception area on the eighth floor if you need to work, study, or discuss further plans with your travel companions. Plus, the floor-to-ceiling windows provide a pretty nice view of the surrounding area.

Image credit: 9h ninehours

3. There are more than enough toilets and shower cubicles for everyone

With some hostels, there aren’t enough shower cubicles for everyone, so you’ll either have to queue up or come back at another time. If you’re sharing a hotel room, you’ll also have to take turns to shower. Thankfully, this isn’t a problem at ninehours, as there are more than enough toilets and shower cubicles for everyone.

I really liked how clean and spacious the communal toilets were. Everything was well-maintained, and all the instructions were clear. After using the bath towels, we were told to place them in a large basket to be washed. There were even stools for each sink, so we could sit down and dry our hair with the hairdryers in front of the large mirrors. It was clear that every aspect of the capsule hotel had been planned with the guests’ needs in mind.

capsule hotel

Image credit: A Girl Must Wander

4. The sleeping pods are surprisingly spacious and designed to give you a good night’s rest

One of the biggest concerns with capsule hotels is that the sleeping pods might be tiny, cramped and uncomfortable. Thankfully, the sleeping pods at ninehours felt surprisingly spacious, and they made me feel like I was safely cocooned in my pod instead of being trapped inside – for a short stay of one night, at least. At 110cm wide, there was even enough space for three girls to lie side by side for a photo. When sitting upright, the capsule pods were just tall enough for you to stretch your arms. Length-wise, at 220cm, it shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

Image credit: A Girl Must Wander

It was also easy to find our allocated sleeping pods because they were all clearly labelled on the floor and above each pod. While there was no lock, there was a privacy screen that you could pull down when you were in the pod to prevent others from looking in. The mattresses and pillows were basic – a little on the thin side, but still firm enough for a good night’s rest, and the brightness of the light in each pod can be adjusted to your preference. There were also built-in USB charging ports in each capsule pod, so you can easily use your phone while charging it.

Image credit: A Girl Must Wander

However, the quality of your sleep ultimately depends on how gracious your fellow guests are because the pods aren’t very soundproof. If you’re a light sleeper, you might be woken up by muffled whispers and the sound of footsteps. Thankfully, everyone tried to be as quiet as possible so as to not disturb others during my stay.

The temperature within the pod is also centrally controlled. However, without any additional airflow, it was just a bit too warm for me to describe it as truly comfortable.

capsule hotel

Image credit: 9h ninehours

5. You have to check out by 10am everyday, regardless of the duration of your stay

One important thing to take note of: all guests must check out by 10am the next day, even if you’re staying for more than one night. This is so that the staff can clean and tidy the sleeping pods from 10am to 1pm. While it wasn’t a problem for us because we were only staying for one night, it can be annoying if you’re planning to stay for a few days as you’ll have to take all your belongings with you or leave them in the lockers, and you won’t be able to sleep in.

Image credit: A Girl Must Wander

All things considered, I had an enjoyable and memorable experience staying in a high-tech Japanese capsule hotel. I love the idea of it, and would happily try a different capsule hotel brand in Japan or another country. However, I do think that one night’s stay is sufficient, and it’s probably better suited for adults travelling in a small group with friends or travelling solo, rather than families.

At ¥4,900 a night, it’s also at the higher end of the price range for a capsule hotel, but while you can easily stay in a capsule hotel for less, I wanted to try a higher quality one that I knew I would be comfortable in.

With seven outlets in Tokyo, two in Osaka, one in Kyoto, and one in Sendai, there’s no lack of options if you’re interested in giving this capsule hotel chain a shot. If you’re not keen on staying for a full night or worried about feeling claustrophobic, ninehours also offers pay-per-hour options for certain services, e.g. ¥1,000 for the first hour for a power nap and shower.

9h ninehours Shinjuku-North
Address: 3F-8F 1-4-15 Hyakunincho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-0073, Japan
Prices: ¥4,900 for one night’s stay
Access: 1min walk from JR Shin-Okubo station

About Author

Michelle Tan
Michelle Tan

Michelle is a creative storyteller who is fuelled by caffeine and her dreams of exploring the world. She aspires to become a polyglot, and when not planning her next trip, she enjoys playing covers on the guitar, completing quests on the PS4, and binge-watching Netflix. Read about her misadventures at A Girl Must Wander and see the world through her eyes at @agirlmustwander.