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It used to be that certain people – women, groups, and holidaymakers, to name a few – wouldn’t even dream of checking into the world of capsule hotels. It wasn’t surprising, either, since salarymen were exactly the intended clientele. These days, however, things are changing, and the once stale and pragmatic capsule hotel is undergoing an exciting transformation.
Capsule hotels used to be aimed solely at the practical salaryman. The one who missed the last train home, or who would rather pocket his business trip allowance from work than spend it on lavish accommodations. But with the rise of the all-night internet café taking a chunk out of business, newer capsule hotels have had to reinvent themselves in order to appeal to a wider audience. And with real estate prices booming in one of the most expensive cities on Earth, it was only a matter of time before they became a viable option for the leisure traveler as well.
If there’s a niche market for business, leisure, and budget travel, it’s likely that a capsule hotel has risen to fill it. In response to the flood of men-only capsule hotels around Tokyo, ladies-only establishments like Nadeshiko in Shibuya have popped up. In true designer capsule hotel style, the interior goes against the grain of traditional plastic and metal pods. It also offers services comparable to a hotel, like on-site dining and sento.
The addition of shared spaces, lounges, and dining options means the new capsule hotels can even be appealing to groups of travelers. Even if they don’t share a room, they can still share the overall experience together, and this means capsule hotels are for the solo traveler no more.
The boring, Space Age-inspired pods of the past are slowly being replaced with a new breed of capsule hotels. This growing market of amped-up budget accommodations is changing people’s perceptions of the industry. Prime Pod Ginza, for example, is one of the latest installments in Tokyo’s luxury capsule hotels. The place is decked out in dark wooden finishes, plush carpeting, and a stylish lounge with a view of the business district.
While usually cheaper than a traditional hotel, a capsule hotel is still not cheaper than a hostel, yet the sleeping arrangements are comparable. But there are key differences that make capsule hotels more appealing to many travelers. For example, they provide the guest with complete privacy. The room may just be a bed, but once that blackout curtain or sliding door closes, it’s completely your own undisturbed space.
Capsule hotels are built to appeal to a particular audience: middle-class, working individuals who want to travel without breaking the bank. And with the rise of designer capsule hotels, it means these individuals also want to look stylish while doing it.
Now you’ve read all about the next generation of capsule collections, how about staying in one next time you visit Tokyo? Check out some of our favourites here.