Among the images that people tend to associate with urban Japan – skyscrapers, subways, and brightly animated billboards – one of the visions that eventually comes to mind is the capsule hotel. Long recognized as a convenient refuge for budget travelers and salarymen who’ve missed the last train, they don’t necessarily conjure up the most comfortable image.
That’s why we were so surprised when we had a chance to stay at Anshin Oyado, a luxury capsule hotel for men only. At first, we weren’t quite how the concept of sleeping in a cubbyhole fit alongside the idea of luxury. However, we were in for a pleasant surprise when we got to their Shinjuku location (the company has five locations around Tokyo).
As soon as you set foot in the hotel, one small detail leaps out. As is common in Japan, you take your shoes off at the door, and step into a pair of slippers. Usually, if you’ve got large feet, this is where the discomfort begins. But Anshin Oyado offers a happy exception to this rule: they have slippers that the big-footed can wear without feeling the need to tiptoe around once you’ve put them on. Stepping into the lobby you are met with a distinctively Indonesian decor with bamboo-framed art and plenty of batik cloth on display and gamelan music playing through the speakers.
Service at check in was friendly and efficient; you pick up a wristband that you can use to enter the floor where your capsule is located, and can check your bag in at the front desk. Once you check in, you can change into the hotel’s comfortable room wear in the adjacent locker room. After dropping off my bag at the front desk, it was time for a look around the place. On the third floor, there is a lounge space with a complimentary all-you-can-drink service with soft drinks and coffee. Snacks and alcoholic beverages are also available for a fee. If your Japanese is up to the task, you can browse through the hotel’s impressive manga library, or you can relax in one of several free massage chairs. At the front of the lounge area is a massage corner, where guests can have the tensions of the day eased out by skilled masseuses, from 9pm to 4am. Several different plans are available.
It was just about time for dinner, and fortunately the hotel is located just minutes from Shinjuku Station, making for easy access to a wide range of restaurants and bars. On returning, it was time for a soak in the hotel’s onsen, which is located on the second floor. Known as Shinjuku no Yu, it’s a roomy bath where you can feel your body relax the longer you stay in the steaming water. After a couple of dips in the onsen and sessions in the mist sauna, it was time to head to bed.
The capsule rooms at Anshin Oyado are spacious, as capsules go, with individual air-conditioning systems, so they feel quite comfortable. Each compartment comes equipped with a good-sized LCD TV, a tablet, a couple of plugs for whatever gadgets you’ve brought with you, and even a set of cables in case you’ve forgotten anything. TV options range from standard TV to a wide selection of video on demand titles, and a set of high quality headphones that each capsule comes equipped with means that you can listen in full fidelity.
In the morning, it was time for another quick trip to the onsen, followed by a trip to the lounge, where an all-you-can-eat array of packaged breads and rice balls was waiting, to accompany our morning coffee.
All in all, a pleasant way to spend the night, and far more luxurious than we’d initially thought. Definitely a great choice for visitors to Japan who are looking for reasonable rates, convenient locations, and a quintessentially Japanese experience. We’d recommend their hotel stay & show ticket packages, which offer some pretty colorful performances to check out before you bed down in your capsule.
For more information about Anshin Oyado hotels, visit their website at www.anshin-oyado.jp/english/.