The capsule hotel is undeniably one of the most interesting features of Japanese life. While some may deem the experience in staying in one of them as ‘claustrophobic’, some others may say that it provides an interesting insight into the night lives of Japanese locals. It is also usually seen as a form of accommodation that caters largely to salarymen who missed the last train and need a place to stay the night. The Nadeshiko Hotel over at Shibuya, a district in Tokyo famed for its shopping and nightlife, is one of the few capsule hotels that caters solely to females.
Our reporter decided to stay at the Nadeshiko Hotel for a night before moving to her dormitory over at Nerima. What are her thoughts on her maiden capsule hotel experience?
The capsule hotel is a little bit difficult to find using Google Maps as it would recommend that you take at least a kilometer’s walk away from Shibuya Station. However, travelling from Shinsen Station on the Keio-Inokashira Line (just a stop away from Shibuya Station) is a much shorter option, especially for those travelling with luggage. This path was backtracked from the path that we used to return to the nearest station and may be longer than alternative suggested routes.
At Shinsen Station, look for the exit without the stairs and descend the slope. Upon reaching a fork in the road, turn left and make a right when you see another fork on the road. Continue to descend down the slope until you see another fork and turn right. Upon seeing yet another split in the road, turn left and continue heading straight. Nadeshiko Hotel is on the right side of this road!
The check-in counter was a rather inconspicuous outdoor booth that almost resembled ticketing counters at various tourist attractions in Japan. Present the counter-staff with your reservation voucher and you will be led into the dining area. Following that, the courteous staff asked us which language we were more comfortable with conversing in: English or Japanese. We were then given a passcode to enter the hotel’s residential areas (which was also written on our Wi-fi access card), a cable to attach our luggage to metal rails to prevent them from being taken away by other guests and arguably the most anticipated part: choosing the design of our complimentary amenity kit and rental yukata and obi. Guests will be shown a box containing yukata of various prints and designs and the option to choose between two obi designs.
We were also given a tour of the hotel compounds. Do note that facilities are located on different floors of the building. The male staff member assisted this reporter and her companion with their luggage though, making this ascent to the forth floor less daunting. On the second floor is the tatami lounge that contains a few desktop ports, warm beverage makers, electricity outlets and refreshments ranging from cookies to rice crackers. The highlight of this capsule hotel, the large public bathing area, is also located on the second floor. The third and fourth floors are the sleeping quarters. That being said, how do the capsules fare?
Do not be fooled by the rather cramped looking space! The capsules, or what the hotel calls “Cocoons” are much wider than they look! While they do not have the upmarket facilities such as in-capsule televisions, they have adjustable lighting, an in-built alarm clock and a power outlet for guests to charge the necessary electronics. The bedding was also exceptionally comfortable and this reporter found it very easy to fall asleep – and incredibly difficult to get up because the bedding was just too comfy and plush!
Each floor also has toilets which are very well-maintained and clean. The toilets are the famous high-technology bidet toilets that Japan is known for so those who are a little nitpicky about personal hygiene need not worry. Each floor also comes with a sink for guests to do their daily morning routine. If you have luggage, use the provided locks to secure the bags to the metal railings and keep your personal belongings in the provided lockers that are available on each floor. These are not coin operated and rely on four-digit pass codes so do take note of the pass code you have chosen for your locker.
As seen in the size comparison below, the Cocoon was actually very spacious and had more than enough room for the reporter who stands at 161cm tall. Below also provides an idea of how one of the yukata designs look like.
The yukata themselves are just as pretty and comfortable. With the provided tabi socks and zori sandals, guests can also dress themselves up in the (almost) full yukata get-up, keeping in mind that the obi provided is not as thick as those traditionally worn during matsuri. This reporter and her companion found themselves taking a lot of jidori (selfies) around the premises. Who knew that a capsule hotel could make us feel so beautiful?
As for the bathing facilities, guests who are not used to the idea of being naked in a shared space may find the idea queasy. An alternative is to use the bathing facilities when no one else is inside. For guests who had never been to a sento, this would certainly be an interesting maiden experience. The public bathing area, located on the second floor, provides guests with a standing shower and a typical Japanese showering area complete with stools. High quality toiletries are provided at each bathing station and towels are also available for all guests so fret not if you did not bring a towel for your trip! Just be sure to return them to the right bin when you are done with your bath. As photography was not allowed in the bathing area, we recommend that you check out the professionally taken photographs provided on the hotel’s website instead.
For those who are unfamiliar with public bathing etiquette, the ‘Guide to Comfortable Stay’ booklet provided in the amenity kit provides instructions on how to use the baths and the steps needed to fully experience a public bath. When this reporter entered the bath, the strong aroma of sandalwood and cypress greeted her. The bathing area includes a large public bath, a metal tub and wooden tub for individual users. We recommend trying out the three different baths to see which is the one you like best. This reporter personally liked the wooden tub best.
What about the amenity kit? What does it contain? The amenity kit boasts traditional Japanese designs on the pouch and comes in a drawstring pouch. Guests can choose which design they want to bring home. This reporter with her liking for purple chose the plum-coloured kit. The amenity kit includes tabi socks that you can bring home with you and use to complement your zori and geta sandals. It also includes a toothbrush and toothpaste tub, a thin body towel, a cotton set comprising of earbuds and cotton pads, and travel-size beauty essentials such as moisturizer and lotions – a definite bonus for beauty-conscious travelers.
The hotel also has other facilities such as a gift shop, kimono rental and photography services and dining. However, as this reporter was pressed for time, she did not have time to experience these unique offers. Guests should also take note that during check-out, if the male staff is absent, they might have to bring their luggage down by themselves although the reporter managed to ask the staff in-charge the next morning to assist with her companion’s extra luggage. The staff were extremely attentive during the descent down. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi provided by the hotel during our stay seemed to be rather glitchy and this reporter could not use it, relying on her pocket Wi-Fi instead.
That aside, this reporter’s stay at Nadeshiko Hotel was absolutely delightful and was even more comfortable than she thought it would be. She would definitely be staying here again during her next trip to Tokyo! If you are travelling to Tokyo as a solo female traveler or with your female buddies, do consider staying here, especially if you want to give the famed capsule hotel concept a try!
Female travelers who are interested in staying at Nadeshiko Hotel can refer to their website for estimated prices during various periods. Those overseas will also be happy to know that you can book this hotel via Agoda too. This reporter managed to book her Cocoon for around JPY5,500 with service charge and hotel tax factored into the price. Different seasons may see different prices though.
DISCLAIMER: This is not a paid review. The opinions held by this author are hers alone.
All photographs in this article were taken by the reporter and her companion.