It’s past midnight, and you just missed the last train. A hotel is out of the question, much too pricey, but you definitely want more privacy than a tiny cubicle in a manga cafe. What’s a cheapo to do? That’s where the capsule hotel comes in.

For many travelers, staying in a capsule hotel is a must-do when in Japan. They are one of the country’s icons, and even though we can’t honestly say they’re the pinnacle of comfort, they do have the advantage of being quick and well-equipped for the no-nonsense tourist … and good for a story when you get home.

What is a capsule hotel, exactly?

First built by Kisho Kurokawa in Osaka in 1979, capsule hotels consist of pod-like rooms—if you can call them rooms, as they’re more like compartments—stacked together, providing the bare minimum in terms of space and amenities.

Basic amenities include a light, an air conditioner, and alarm clock, but some capsule hotels may also provide a TV, power outlet, and/or radio. Not for nothing are they also sometimes known as sleep pods, cube hotels or cubicle hotels: they’re snug. Inside, there’s just enough room for a person to crawl inside, lie down, and (maybe) sit up (if you’re tall, this might be impossible).

There are usually no locks, only a shutter or curtain for you to get some quiet and privacy—which isn’t always guaranteed, as you may have the misfortune of sharing the hotel with rowdy guests.

capsule hotel tokyo japan
Your pint-sized home away from home. | Photo by

While capsule hotels used to primarily have salarymen as their clientele, tourists have also come to appreciate these little sleep pods for their “cheaper” rates compared to most regular hotels, as well as the novelty of staying in something thought to be unique and futuristic.

Capsule hotels are no longer just places in which to unexpectedly spend the night, but also accommodations that people purposely intend to stay in. But before you start booking one, here are some things you might not know about capsule hotels.

Fun fact: Kisho Kurokawa also designed the Nakagin Capsule Tower in Tokyo—not a capsule hotel (or hotel at all), but a very cool work of architecture.

1. Capsule hotels are not necessarily cheaper than a hotel or hostel

The average rate per night at a capsule hotel ranges from ¥2,500 to ¥6,000. While ¥2,500 is definitely cheap, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Tokyo hotel that charges so little for a night, there are budget hotels and hostels that can offer you an entire room for about ¥2,700¥6,000 a night.

For example, the popular hostel Nui has beds (actual beds) for around ¥3,600 per night.

How much does a capsule hotel in Tokyo cost, then?

As with everything worthwhile in life, what you pay for is what you get. Specials notwithstanding, most capsule hotels have rooms — well, “rooms” — starting at about ¥2,500. You may occasionally find something cheaper during a big promo, but be a little wary of anywhere that has ordinary prices below ¥2,000 or so (of course, we’d be happy to be wrong about this, so if you discover the ultimate cheapo gem, let us know!). The price ceiling on capsule hotels seems to be somewhere around ¥7,000 a night, by which point you’d be better off booking a regular hotel.

2. They’re more than just pods stacked together

A fancy modern capsule hotel | Photo by Gregory Lane

Don’t worry — whatever their reputation, capsule hotels are not particularly bland or impersonal. The capsule hotel I stayed in had a bath and sauna, vending machines, a manga library, some arcade games, massage services, a communal space for watching TV, and even a restaurant.

Not all capsule hotels have all these facilities and amenities, but you can rest assured that these cubicle hotels provide more than just sleep pods. The least that they provide are bathing facilities, lockers (usually one locker area for shoes, and another one for other belongings), and a lounge.

While capsule hotels don’t exactly exude the social vibe that hostels are known for, who knows—you might be able to make some friends at a capsule hotel lounge. Also, note that baths tend to be communal (but still gender-segregated, of course), and that those with tattoos are usually not allowed into the baths and saunas.

3. Many capsule hotels in Tokyo and elsewhere are only for men

Capsule hotels developed as cheap places for salarymen to stay in if they couldn’t make it home overnight, so historically they’ve been pretty much just for men. Until fairly recently, it was rare to find a capsule hotel that allowed women. This is said to be for women’s safety, but nowadays, capsule hotels are offering the more sensible solution of catering to women but keeping the floors or areas segregated by gender. Guests usually need a special key to access the sleeping quarters.

I’m traveling with my partner — can couples stay in capsule hotels?

Yes, you can. You would probably be more comfortable in an actual hotel room you could get for the same price, but sometimes it’s about the experience, not the practicality.

There are two options for couples who want the capsule hotel experience. By far the easier is to find a capsule hotel, such as one of those listed below, that has both male and female sections. That way, for m/f couples, you and your beloved are in the same hotel, if not the same room. The other option — staying in the same capsule — is harder to fulfil, but we believe that Tokyo Kiba Hotel and Capsule Hotel Anshin Oyado Premier Tokyo Shinjuku Station offer double capsules.

4. You have to check out of the capsule hotel for each day of your stay

Capsule hotels aren’t really meant for long-term stays. That doesn’t mean that you can’t stay in a capsule hotel for, say, a week, but you’ll have to check out then check in again every day. Check-out time is usually at 10:00 am, but you can extend for a small fee, usually a few hundred yen per hour.

Wait, but what about the nine-hour stay option?

This is not a thing—it may be an urban legend stemming from a now-obsolete time limit on how long you could stay in a capsule hotel and kept going by the name of a popular chain of capsule hotels (see below for a listing). As far as we know, these days you book a capsule hotel for the same amount of time as you would a normal hotel, i.e. roughly 12 hours. However, you can check in and check out in short order if that’s what you need to do. Some capsule hotels do have hourly options for travelers who just need a short rest—if this is what you need, ask the desk staff at the capsule hotel you’re thinking of booking.

capsule hotel tokyo japan
Your future awaits. | Photo by gin tan

Still interested in booking a capsule hotel? Then let’s move on to …

The best capsule hotels in Tokyo

All the capsule hotels listed here are open to both men and women.

1. Nine Hours Narita Airport

Welcome to Japan! Are you stuck waiting for a connecting flight? Did you arrive past midnight? If so, this capsule hotel in Terminal 2 of Narita Airport is a godsend. (It’s also the source of all those Google searches for “capsule hotel nine hours” and perhaps the urban legend about how you can only stay in a capsule hotel for nine hours.) The hotel has lockers, showers, and a lounge. Toiletries are provided.

How much does it cost?

A standard plan costs about ¥7,200 a night on weekdays, and ¥7,800 on Fridays and weekends. Checking out each day doesn’t seem necessary here.

Address: 1-1 Furugome, Narita City, Chiba, 282-0004
Check-in: 12:00 pm-5:00 am | Check-out: 10:00 am
Bookings can be made here.

2. First Cabin Haneda

First Cabin Haneda room
A First Cabin Haneda capsule, slightly more roomy than average. | Photo by Gregory Lane

Not to be beaten by Narita, Haneda Airport also has a capsule hotel of its own, inside Terminal 1. It’s called First Cabin Haneda, and as the name implies, this is fancier than your average Tokyo capsule hotel. In fact, their rooms are called “cabins” rather than “capsules,” and they, indeed, have much more space and actual beds, making their rooms look more like mini-hotel rooms than capsule pods. Size aside, the only other reminder that you’re not in a regular hotel is the lack of a lockable door.

How much does it cost?

An overnight stay here costs ¥7,000 a night for a first-class cabin, while it’s ¥6,000 for a smaller cabin. The only difference between first and business class is size—the former has more space for your luggage. Short-term stays are also available for ¥800 and ¥1,000 an hour for business and first class, respectively. Toiletries and earplugs are provided.

Address: 1F Haneda Airport Terminal 1 | 3-3-2, Haneda Airport, Ota-ku, Tokyo
Check-in: 7:00 pm | Check-out: 10:00 am
Bookings can be made here.

Pro tip: If you don’t happen to find yourself anywhere near Haneda, you can still get a taste of the First Cabin experience at their hybrid Akihabara or traditional capsule Akasaka branches.

shinjuku night rainy tokyo
Shinjuku doesn’t sleep, but you probably should. | Photo by

3. Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel

Close to Shinjuku Station’s east exit is this Tokyo capsule hotel, which has a 24-hour bath and sauna, and a business-and-relaxation lounge with wifi and PCs. The hotel also has a restaurant and coin laundries.

How much is it?

A room costs ¥9,000 on average, but this hotel regularly has discounted plans. You can expect to pay ¥3,200¥3,800 a night for women, and ¥3,200¥3,600 a night for men. All rooms come with wifi and power outlets.

Address: Touyo Building 3/F, 1-2-5 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo
Access: Shinjuku Station
Check-in: 4:00 pm | Check-out: 10:00 am
Bookings can be made here.

4. Capsule Value Kanda

Located near Akihabara, Capsule Value Kanda is owned by the same people behind Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel. Its price range is similar, and you can also expect the same quality of rooms and facilities.

How much does it cost?

A standard room costs ¥7,500 a night, but they also have discounts and promos. Those under 30 can get a room for substantially less than that per night, as long as proof of age can be shown. Like those at the sister hotel in Shinjuku, all rooms have wifi and power outlets.

Address: 1-4-5 Kajicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
Access: Kanda Station
Check-in: 10:00 am | Check-out: 10:00 am
Bookings can be made online here.

5. Capsule Hotel & Spa The Nell

Located a little further out in the Ueno area, Capsule Hotel & Spa The Nell has a sauna, free wifi, and laundromat and is a short walk from Ueno Station and Naka-Okachimachi Station. Rooms start at about ¥2,800.

How much does it cost?

A standard capsule costs about ¥3,300, but there are usually promos.

Address: 2-15-9 Higashi-Ueno, Taito, Tokyo
Access: Ueno or Nakaokachimachi Stations
Check-in: 14:00 | Check-out: 10:00
Bookings can be made online here.

capsule hotel tokyo japan
Any resemblance to kitchen cabinets is entirely coincidental. | Photo by

6. Capsule Inn Kinshicho

Situated in the tech hub of Akihabara, this capsule hotel is a great jumping-off point for anyone bent on exploring the center-city. It’s also near sumo stables and the Sumida Hokusai Museum. The hotel offers a bar, coffee shop and restaurant, a sauna, hot spring baths, a fitness center, free wifi in public area and free LAN in the capsules themselves.

How much does it cost?

Male and female capsules both start at between ¥3,400 and ¥3,700, but there are usually promos and discounts available. Apparently this capsule hotel also welcomes children, but definitely double-check this before booking.

Address: 2-6-3 Kinshi, Sumida-ku, Tokyo
Access: Kinshicho Station
Check-in: 15:00 | Check-out: 12:00
Bookings can be made here.

Capsule hotels in Shinjuku and Shibuya

Need to lie down after bodysurfing Scramble Crossing? Just generally need to lie down? If you’re a Japanophile, chances are you’re hitting the city pretty hard and hoping to stay out late. Shinjuku Station is also the jumping-off point for many an adventure.

Luckily, Shinjuku and Shibuya offer a plethora of capsule hotels. Some, we’ve already listed above. Others that are worth checking out are Tokyo Kiba Hotel and Capsule Hotel Anshin Oyado Premier Tokyo Shinjuku Station, both of which take couples, First Cabin Kyobashi, Booth Netcafe and Capsule, First Cabin TKP Ichigaya and Nine Hours Shinjuku-North.

This post was originally published in February, 2015, and last updated in August, 2021. While we try to ensure that all of our information is accurate, prices and other details may vary. Rates listed here are intended as rough guidelines only, and should be checked carefully.

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