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Capsule or Pod Hotels

What are capsule or pod hotels

Capsule hotels, or pod hotels as they're usually referred to, are small, capsule- or pod-shaped accommodations that make for a unique and budget-friendly stay. These pods usually only feature a single-person sleeping space, making them ideal for solo backpackers. As opposed to conventional hotel rooms, where guests have private seating spaces and bathrooms, accommodations in capsule hotels only offer a sleeping space, with shared bathrooms, living, and working areas.

The origin and evolution of capsule or pod hotels

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First introduced in Osaka, Japan for working professionals, capsule hotels were quickly adopted by cities in East Asia, such as Seoul, Taipei, and Hong Kong. For a long time, capsule hotels were available in a rudimentary form, only with a single bed. Today, with advancements in technology and refinements in interior design, capsule hotels represent modern and innovative alternate accommodations, with amenities such as plush linens, wall-mounted TV, and Wi-Fi, among others. Courtesy of their efficiency and practicality, capsule hotels have also started to open up in the busiest international airports, such as London’s Heathrow, Amsterdam’s Schiphol, and Paris’ CDG airports.

Typical features of a capsule or pod hotel

  • Stacked capsules or pods instead of regular rooms

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Capsule hotels usually feature multiple pods stacked vertically and horizontally next to each other, much like in a train’s sleeper compartments. These pods are equipped with chargers, TV, Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning, and usually include a curtain or unlockable door for privacy.

  • Snug and cozy sleeping space

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As the compact pods usually only have enough space for a twin-size bed, they make for a cozy space for sleeping. Along with the controlled temperatures and plush linens, you can snuggle with your favorite book or comfortably watch your favorite shows and films in bed.

  • Storage lockers

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As the compact pods don’t have a big storage space or locking doors, capsule hotels feature storage lockers for each pod, where guests can securely store their luggage and belongings.

  • Shared bathrooms

Capsule hotels feature shared bathrooms for every few pods, allowing guests to stay comfortable. Usually, modern capsule hotels, especially in Japan, have separate floors for men and women, and each floor features a few bathrooms, ensuring that guests don’t have to queue up. Some properties also feature larger pods, which are sometimes equipped with private bathrooms.

  • Lounges and communal spaces

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Modern capsule hotels feature trendy communal spaces, such as pantries, lounge rooms, and working areas, making for charming places for guests to work and relax. The working and lounging areas are always equipped with Wi-Fi and sometimes magazines and indoor games, allowing guests to keep themselves entertained too.

  • Shared kitchens and dining areas

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Capsule hotels also feature shared kitchens, pantries, and dining areas, allowing guests to fulfill their gastronomic needs. Apart from dishes and a few basic amenities such as microwaves and refrigerators, these spaces also have vending machines, from which guests can get ready-to-eat meals.

Why should you choose a capsule or pod hotel

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  • Unique experience

If you travel a lot and feel bored with the conventional hotel experience, you can mix things up and choose to stay in a capsule hotel. With pod-shaped capsules, these types of hotels offer a stay unlike any other and make for the most unique experience.

  • 24/7 accessibility

Most capsule hotels offer all-day check-in, allowing you to book accommodation at any time of the day. The 24-hour check-in allows solo backpackers to arrive at their destination at any time and also conveniently explore the nightlife.

  • Sense of community

With communal lounging areas and dining spaces, capsule hotels offer a perfect opportunity to interact with fellow travelers. This creates a sense of community and helps travelers make new friends and connections.

  • Budget-friendly prices

Capsule hotels are practical and efficient accommodations that work perfectly for both travelers and hotel chains. These hotels offer some of the most budget-friendly stays and make for the perfect accommodation options for solo backpackers, students, and digital nomads. With private sleeping spaces, capsule hotels also offer more privacy than their similar-budget counterparts, hostels.

  • Sustainability

Capsule hotels are probably the most space-efficient accommodation options, which makes them more sustainable than conventional hotels. Modern capsule hotels are also incorporating energy-saving features, which make them even more sustainable. Travelers who regularly stay in capsule hotels also keep their luggage light and use fewer resources, making for a more hassle-free travel experience.

  • Convenient location

Capsule hotels are usually located near city centers and business hubs maximizing convenience for tourists. Capsule hotels in Japan, especiall, are almost always located close to public transit, making for the most convenient commuting for budget-conscious travelers.

  • Neat and tidy

Apart from the fact that accommodations in capsule hotels are regularly cleaned and maintained, guests are also not allowed any food or drinks inside the pods to avoid occasional spillage. Due to the lack of storage space, guests also keep their luggage in storage rooms, making their pods look even tidier.

  • Availability of female-only capsules

Several capsule hotels are female-only, allowing women to feel a greater sense of safety. Many other capsule hotels, especially those in Japan, also feature separate floors for women, often with added amenities. With extra privacy, safety, and other perks, capsule hotels make for an ideal accommodation for solo female travelers as well.

  • Flexible stay options

With many of them offering hourly stays, capsule hotels allow for greater flexibility. Among other scenarios, hourly bookings make capsule hotels perfect for travelers who want to rest for a few hours before catching their flight or train.

Things to consider before booking a capsule or pod hotel

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  • Less privacy

With only a curtain or an unlockable door to their sleeping space, capsule hotels are not that great when it comes to privacy. While conventional hotels offer private seating spaces and bathrooms, capsule hotels have shared lounging spaces and bathrooms.

  • Confined sleeping space

Due to the limited sleeping space and compact pods, capsule hotels are not that great for individuals who tend to feel claustrophobic. Corridors with pods stacked next to each other also don’t make things better, as that might feel tight and confined.

  • Noises from other pods

Since pods in capsule hotels are stacked next to each other, noises from adjacent pods might carry through easily. This can be a nuisance, especially if you're trying to relax, sleep, or work. So, it would be best to carry noise-canceling headphones if you're easily irritated by unwanted noises.

  • Minimal luggage

While solo backpackers travel with minimal luggage, it can be a hassle for those who have a habit of staying in hotels. Due to the lack of storage space in pods and the limited storage space in lockers, guests staying in pods can only carry minimal luggage.

  • Limited amenities

Contrary to conventional hotels, which feature on-site restaurants, pools, gyms, and spas, capsule hotels offer way fewer amenities and facilities. So, if you're someone who can’t manage without the above-mentioned amenities, capsule hotels are probably not for you.

  • Less personalized service

Comparing capsule hotels with conventional hotels again, conventional hotels, especially boutique hotels, offer bespoke services and personalized facilities. On the other hand, pods in capsule hotels all look the same, and guests can’t request additional facilities.

  • Limited accessibility

If you or anyone traveling with you has any kind of disability, capsule hotels might not be the best accommodation option for you. Capsule hotels can sometimes require you to climb up to your accommodation, making it harder for those with mobility issues. However, you can always try to request a pod on the lower level if possible.

Top destinations with capsule or pod hotels around the world

Destinations with capsule or pod hotels in Japan

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  • Shinbashi, Tokyo

Sitting about 2 km (1.24 mi) away from the iconic Tokyo Tower, Shinbashi is one of the most charming districts in Tokyo. It also offers walkable access to Shimbashi Station, making for a hassle-free commute for travelers. You can book one of the capsule hotels for a budget-friendly and unique stay in this business district.

  • Shinagawa City, Tokyo

Sitting on the shore of Tokyo Bay, Shinagawa City is a charming ward in Tokyo with plenty of shrines, shopping spots, and restaurants. It's also home to the picturesque Tennozu Isle, exploring whose boardwalks and restaurants make for one of the most romantic things to do in Tokyo. To explore a unique side of Japan’s capital, visit Shinagawa City and stay in one of its capsule hotels.

  • Kanazawa, Ishikawa

Sitting on the shore of the Sea of Japan, Kanazawa is the charming capital of Ishikawa prefecture. With modern museums, such as the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, and well-preserved Edo-era districts such as Higashi Chaya teahouse district, there are plenty of charming attractions and things to do in Kanazawa. If you're planning a visit, you can stay in one of the well-maintained capsule hotels in the city.

  • Chiba

Chiba is an expansive prefecture comprising the eastern outskirts of Tokyo. The prefecture is home to Narita International Airport, one of the two major airports serving Tokyo. It boasts some excellent attractions, including some that make for charming day trips from Tokyo, such as Mount Nokogiri. As for accommodation, you can find several capsule hotels in Chiba for a budget-friendly stay.

  • Hiroshima, Hiroshima

Despite being scarred by the horrors of the war in the past, the resilient Hiroshima today is a dynamic city with buzzing nightlife and historical sites. Among other attractions and things to do in Hiroshima, you can check out some of its most photogenic spots, such as the iconic Hiroshima Castle. It’s also one of the best jump-off points to visit the sacred island of Miyajima, also known as Itsukushima. After sightseeing, relax at one of the capsule hotels in the city.

Other Asian destinations with capsule or pod hotels

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  • Bali, Indonesia

While the world-famous destination of Bali boasts some of the most lavish accommodations, it also features several capsule hotels for budget travelers. The island boasts a range of unique places, including stunning canyons and volcanic mountains. Tourists can also check out a variety of things Bali is famous for, such as thriving wildlife, beaches, and rice terraces, among others. Apart from nature lovers, the Indonesian destination is also perfect for adventure seekers, as it has plenty of cliff-jumping spots. For a more budget-friendly experience, you can even sample the delectable street food in Bali.

  • Seoul, South Korea

The modern and bustling South Korean capital is one of the most visited capitals in Asia. From Seoul Tower to Lotte World, the city boasts some iconic landmarks. The city boasts many skyscrapers and a stunning skyline, which can be enjoyed from the city’s rooftop bars. Nightlife seekers can also find plenty of things to do at night, including clubbing, singing their hearts out at karaoke bars, and eating at one of the 24-hour cafes. To make the most of your visit on a budget, you can book your stay in one of the capsule hotels in Seoul.

  • Manila, Philippines

The Filipino capital, Manila, sits on the shore of Manila Bay and boasts a charming confluence of history, nature, and urbanity. From bustling night markets to vibrant nightclubs, Manila boasts plenty of things to do at night. If you're planning an extended stay in the city, you can also embark on a day trip to one of the gorgeous spots in its vicinity. Regardless of your stay period, you can book a pod in one of the capsule hotels for a hassle-free stay. These capsule hotels are also perfect if you have a few hours of layover in Manila.

  • Bangkok, Thailand

From magnificent temples to buzzing nightclubs, Bangkok has something for everyone. The Chao Phraya River straddles the city, making for scenic boat tours, including dinner cruises and visits to floating markets. For an offbeat experience, you can check out various out-of-the-box things to do in Bangkok, such as exploring the streets on a tuk-tuk. Bangkok also boasts one of the most charming street cultures in Asia, and to make the most of it on a budget, you can book your stay in one of its capsule hotels.

Destinations with capsule or pod hotels in the United States

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  • New York City

The bustling New York City is unlike any other city in the world. While some don’t prefer its busy and fast-paced life, many love it for its modern and cosmopolitan vibe. Among its endless attractions, New York boasts Times Square, which is one of the most iconic, vibrant, and upscale areas in the world. To make the most of this commercial and entertainment hub, you have to visit it after sunset when its billboards are bright and shiny. It also offers plenty of other things to do at night for the throngs of tourists. To admire the city’s coveted skyline, you can visit one of the rooftop bars in Times Square. As for accommodation, you can find a few pod hotels among other luxury hotels and vacation rentals. While pod hotels in Times Square might not be as cheap as other locations, they still make for the most budget-friendly options in New York’s Manhattan.

  • Los Angeles

The second largest city in the USA, Los Angeles, is home to some of the world's most upscale districts. Amidst the exclusive neighborhoods and top-class accommodations, you can find a few capsule hotels that make for charming and reasonably priced stays in Los Angeles. While you enjoy your economical stay in capsule hotels, you can also find several cheap places to eat in the city. Moreover, you can spend a few hours at one of the best cafes in the city. To make it even better, the city offers easy access to the Pacific Ocean, allowing tourists to make the most of the beaches and surf spots.

Destinations with capsule or pod hotels in Europe

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  • London, England

While the stunning capital of the UK can be pretty expensive for tourists, you can explore the city on a budget if you make the right choices. To save big bucks on accommodation, you can book one of the capsule hotels instead of the conventional hotels or vacation rentals. Eat at some of the cheapest restaurants that offer good food and service. You can also shop for antiques, local goods, and produce at one of the economical street markets in the city. Being one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, London certainly has enough for all kinds of travelers.

  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

With an extensive network of canals and charming waterside streets, Amsterdam is one of the most gorgeous capital cities in Europe. It boasts plenty of picture-perfect Instagrammable places for your photo sessions. Apart from the classic waffles, there's a range of other food to try in Amsterdam. You can also shop at one of the food markets and take local produce with long shelf lives back home. To accommodate the millions of tourists that visit Amsterdam every year, the city boasts all kinds of accommodations, including the most budget-friendly capsule hotels.

  • Tallinn, Estonia

If Tallinn has never been the top choice for your European getaway, we implore you to give it a chance. The Estonian capital boasts an otherworldly charm that mesmerizes tourists. The enchanting walled Old Town features cobblestone streets, medieval structures, and charming cafes, which are some of the best places to eat in the city. Among other fun things to do in Old Town, you can get on the Kohtuotsa viewing platform and admire magnificent sights. To top it all, the city has plenty of capsule hotels which make for an inexpensive and unique stay.

  • Reykjavik, Iceland

With magnificent volcanic mountains, enchanting northern lights, and some of the most therapeutic natural hot springs in the world, Iceland boasts the best of nature. The national capital, Reykjavik, features plenty of tours, excursions, and things to do, including authentic Icelandic cuisine walks and whale-watching tours. For budget travelers, the city has several cheap restaurants and a few pod and capsule hotels that don’t compromise on comfort.

Stay comfortable on a budget in capsule hotels

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While sleeping in a bed-sized pod might not sound that appealing at first, it does have its perks and advantages. Apart from the fact that capsule hotels are some of the most economical accommodation options, they're also quite unique and technologically advanced. This, along with shared work areas, makes them perfect for digital nomads. Several capsule hotels take bookings by the hour, allowing you to refresh yourself with a few hours of sleep and a shower at a nominal cost. Not to mention that they usually offer easy access to public transport, making them ideal for solo backpackers. All these are just some of the appealing factors that make capsule hotels a brilliant accommodation option, especially in bustling East Asian metropolises where they originated and are in most abundance.

Capsule or pod hotels in Japan

Capsule or pod hotels in other Asian countries

Capsule or pod hotels in the Americas

Capsule or pod hotels in Europe

FAQ's about Capsule or Pod Hotels

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