A new trend in overnight stays, capsule hotels are a wallet friendly option.
(Photo by iStock Photo)

Capsule Hotels: Confined sleeping quarters offer big savings

Have you ever walked into your hotel room only to say, “It’s a bit on the small side.”? Well, if that’s the case, you haven’t seen anything yet. 

Scattered across Japan, China, India and throughout Europe is a new trend in overnight accommodations for the thrifty and the frugal…Capsule Hotels. Yes, it’s exactly like the image that’s in your mind right now; a small oval or square “pod” that perfectly houses the frame of the human body for a restful night’s sleep. 

Claustrophobia is at the top of one’s list when they initially view these hotel “rooms” both online and in person. It doesn’t take long however before they acclimate and find them both convenient and surprisingly comfortable. 

Here we check in on this new, radically weird, and a bit scary innovation. How they came to exist and how they can save you time and money as you travel across the globe. They seem to be the perfect option for travelers on a strict time frame and a limited budget.

Measuring Up

A typical Capsule Hotel room is about the size of a normal-sized twin bed, with enough space above your head to allow you to sit upright if you’re not immediately wanting to get some shuteye. Depending upon the location, the pod itself can be constructed of wood, plastic or most commonly fiberglass material, and are stacked two-high, one on top of the other (think of bunk beds.) A small ladder allows access to the upper units. 

Inside the tiny room, typical amenities include a small air conditioner, possibly a television, an electronic console for charging small electronics, and a comfortable mattress and pillow for a great night’s sleep (if you’re not claustrophobic. More on that soon.) The open side of the room is sealed from others using a solid door with an interior lock, of course, or by sliding a curtain over the exposed area for a more, free, easy-to-get-out, approach. 

For travelers on a budget, capsule hot rooms are a great choice.
(Photo by iStock Photo)

Capsule Hotels Are Big On Service

Now, aside from the sleeping area, most capsule hotels follow the blueprint of hostels, and that have communally shared amenities. These include toilets, showers, internet hotspots, and dining rooms for meals and quick snacks. Depending upon the hotel’s level of service, other added extras may be available for the overnight guest to enjoy. These include a sauna, a full-service restaurant, swimming pools, specialized vending machines.

Like traditional hotels across the globe, you can find no-frills, just sleep-and-move-on locations, or those that exhibit all the bells and whistles of a five-star hotel. Like everything else in life, it comes down to the money, the higher price, the greater the amenities, and vice versa. This diversity of choices offers something for everyone’s varied economic level. 

They’re Not For Everyone!

Now, before you jump online and book a capsule hotel for your next trip on the other side of the world, there are some drawbacks that may give you pause, and for some it’s a literal deal-breaker. 

First, you can’t be claustrophobic. The capsule was so named, of course, because it’s designed to just fit your body. Comparisons have been made to sleeping in a coffin, which can turn off many people right at the onset. Being confined inside with the door shut can make even the most courageous person feel uneasy throughout the night. This can lead to restlessness or even sleeplessness which counteracts what the hotels was intended to do. 

Second, if the small space doesn’t bother you, the lack of fresh, circulating air can be a major turn-off. Air conditioning is not a standard for all capsule hotels and the stagnant, hot interior may lead to restlessness. 

Finally, the bumps and banging of your neighbors against the thin walls may keep you from a deep sleep. 

Easy on the wallet, perhaps tight on space, capsule hotels aren't for everyone.
(Photo by iStock Photo)

Finding Your Own Capsule

Although Capsule Hotels are unique in both design and operation, and an unknown choice for most people during their travels, they can be found quite easily when planning a trip to the orient or throughout Europe. Websites featuring such hotels are now prominent online. As well as conventional travel agents being able to offer such frugal accommodations for money-conscious individuals. These hotels usually are booked only for one night’s stay. If additional days are needed, you are required to check out and check in again.

This is a small price to pay for saving quite a lot of money. This brings us to the price. Is the price worth being in a confined sleeping area, boxed in like any type of livestock? You bet! The average cost can run between $16.00 to $22.00 U.S. a night. This starting price may include discounts or promos, but on average the price is steady. Bear in mind that Capsule Hotels that offer a greater number of amenities, the price may be higher. However if it’s just some basic shuteye you seek, the price is right!

Clever Alternative

This “Capsule” style of overnight accommodations may not be for everyone, but I say this, don’t knock it until you try it. At the very worst, you’ll lose some money and waste some time finding a traditional hotel. Conversely, for the best-case scenario, you’ll find rest for the night and be bright-eyed in the morning. This will also go a long way to keeping some cash in your pocket. Once you’re over your initial fears and trepidations you may love the concept and indulge, whenever possible.

The Other Side of the Coin

If capsule hotels are for thrifty and frugal travelers, then this suite, found at the Grand Hills Hotel in Lebanon, is for the ultra-rich! This hotel room, or more aptly named, mansion, offers 44,500 square feet of space for up to ten guests. If you have no issues dropping around $80,000 a night, then this is for you. You’ll enjoy a private entrance, an exquisitely stocked library, dining area, private gardens and two large swimming pools. In addition to being surrounded by rare sculptures, antique furniture, and some of the best views of Lebanon’s countryside. So, live a little and enjoy your stay!

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