• I stayed at Nine Hours Otemachi, a capsule hotel in central Tokyo. One night cost me $26.

  • The hotel was separated by gender, and the pods looked like something out of a sci-fi movie.

  • The accommodation was comfortable enough for one night, but I probably wouldn’t stay longer.

I’m an expat living in Japan, and I paid $26 for a one-night stay at a capsule hotel.

david in capsule hotel

I’ve stayed in numerous Japanese capsule hotels in the past.David McElhinney

As a freelance journalist and travel writer living in Japan, I move around a lot for work. When I want to save a few yen on my accommodation, I often stay at capsule hotels, also known as pod hotels.

These multi-story buildings are filled with cuboidal sleeping pods and were originally designed as rest stops for traveling workers during the late 1970s. Though capsule-style living has found mixed success since then, pod hotels remain a popular choice for thrifty solo travelers.

My recent stay at a capsule hotel called Nine Hours Otemachi was cheap — I paid $26 for a one-night stay — but I did forgo some of the comforts I’d have in a business hotel or a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn.

I stayed at Nine Hours Otemachi in central Tokyo.

capsule hotel exterior

The exterior of Nine Hours Otemachi.David McElhinney

Nine Hours has several branches in the capital’s business districts and a handful of others scattered across the country. The hotels share similarities, but each one caters to the district where it’s located.

Nine Hours Otemachi’s simple white facade and no-frills decor were indicative of the capsule hotel’s functional approach.

The hotel is also a run station where guests and non-guests can rent jogging gear.

capsule hotel running shoes station

The selection of Nike running shoes.David McElhinney

Located on the northern

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