I was a little apprehensive to stay in a pod hotel in Tokyo. When it popped up on Agoda’s suggestions of recommended hotels for my overnight stay before my sister arrived in town I dismissed it at first. I spent the next thirty minutes or so researching and came back to this option. But why? Part of it was wanting to know What It’s Like to Stay in 9 Hours Pod Hotel in Shinjuku Japan.
The hotel’s location is ideal, situated in the Shinjuku area on the west side of Tokyo. It’s easy to get there from the airports by train, off the well known Tokyo subway Yamanote JR line, two blocks from Shin-Okubo station. (There’s only one exit at this stop – you make a right after you exit, turn right and walk 2-3 blocks. It’s on the right after a 7-Eleven and the building is well marked with the hotel name, as seen above.)
You take the elevator up to the check in desk and immediately notice how modern it is. Everything is grey, black and white, and designed in simple lines and materials, including poured concrete. They’ve done a great job at keeping it sleek and posh without feeling cold.
Here’s some questions you may have that I’ve anticipated and answered below. Feel free to ask more questions in the comments and I will answer!
Is it a “party scene”?
I was concerned it’d be a little bit like a hostel, noisy and a younger crowd. It was incredibly quiet everywhere – almost like a library. They have signs to please keep noise levels at a minimum in the dorm area, especially. I saw people of all ages staying there during my less-than-24 stay, including younger travelers around college age to older couples in their 50s.
Where do I keep my things?
Upon check in, which is available at noon, you’re given a flexible plastic key card with a QR code on it to open a locker specifically assigned to you. Your locker number corresponds with your sleep pod number as well. I was quite impressed to find the lockers equipped with two hangers, slippers, a toothbrush with toothpaste and pajamas to borrow for the evening. A towel is provided as well. Since you need the key card to access your locker, where all your belonging are, I slept with it close and was sure not to misplace it.
Do the pod capsules feel claustrophobic?
This was a big one for me and I’m sure it’s one of your main concerns too. I was so worried I’d feel like I was suffocating. I will say if you’re a true claustrophobic I’m unsure how you may react, as I do not possess a clinical phobia to small, enclosed spaces. However I was surprised to learn the capsule was bigger than I imagined; the bed seemed to be nearly twin size and the height of the pod was taller too, though if I lifted my arm I could almost touch the ceiling. I wonder if my 6’2″ tall partner would fit, as it’s always a concern for how long a bed is when we travel, though he wasn’t with me this trip.
What are the pods like? Are they comfortable?
Yes! It’s not the most comfortable bed you’ll ever sleep in but I’m happy to report it was clean, sanitary (spotless, really) and comfy. The dorm design also feels very futuristic! Each pod has a crescent shaped pillow on the bed that feels like it’s made of bean bag chair materials, with little cushiony spheres inside. Each comforter has a white duvet cover on it. Each pod is equipped with its own light switch on a dimmer and outlet, which came in handy for charging my iPhone overnight. (Other than the common area by the checkin desk and bathrooms this was the only place I could find an outlet. It’d be hard to leave something unattended to charge and feel that it was 100% secure, like a camera, iPad or battery pack.)
Do they have separate male and female floors?
Yes, females and males are on separate floors. I was a solo female traveler and I only saw males when I was downstairs in the one common area they have. Floors are well marked with what’s on each, for instance the women’s bathroom on floor 7. While you don’t need a key card for access to the elevators and each individual floor, everyone enters the building in the ground floor elevator, is taken up to floor 8 (checkin) and then has a choice of elevators from there. Women can travel down to floors 5-7 for females. Theoretically anyone could enter any floor but Japan’s a pretty safe country and I felt safe the entire time and that everyone was respectful of all rules including separation of genders.
Is it hard to fall asleep?
It depends on who is in the dorm and how noisy they are as well as how heavy a sleeper you are and how quickly you can enter sleep! My partner can fall asleep incredibly easily while I usually take between 30-60 minutes to get to the same point. Each pod has a shade you lower when you’re inside for privacy. They do not block noise, however the lighting and white noise streamed into the area creates a sense of calm and quiet. The only noise I experienced, anywhere the whole time, was when two friends seemed to be talking in the dorm area, not realizing how much their voices carry and could be heard. In the morning there was an issue of everyone’s iPhone alarm clocks going off – I woke up even if I didn’t want to at 7:00am. Once one alarm started to go off…then another…I was awake and there was no falling back asleep. It was only an issue because I was so jet lagged from my flight to Japan just hours before. Next time I would bring ear plugs to mitigate the morning alarm factor.
Are the bathrooms and hotel clean?
Impeccably so. The bathrooms looked brand new, including plenty of mirrors and clean countertop space. I was in awe of the toilets. Japan is known for their high tech toilets and when you entered the bathroom the toilet lid magically lifted! They also have great showers that are stocked with shampoo, conditioner and shower gel in every one and have complimentary hair dryers to use. You cannot smoke or eat in the hotel – I suspect that helps keep things tidy!
Why didn’t you stay in an Air BnB?
I looked on Air BnB a lot before booking 9 Hours Shinjuku Japan. I’m a huge fan of Air BnB and have used their service countless times but I also know it’s not always the best choice. After a lot of research it turned out it wasn’t a viable, affordable option for one night stay upwards of double the cost even for a room in a shared apartment. Nothing was as inexpensive as the pod hotel, at about $50 USD total for the evening (5,000 yen). A lot of Air BnB listings seemed like they were affordable but then when you input dates and saw the grand total, with things like housekeeping added on, prices nearly doubled. Given that you also have to coordinate with a host for Air BnB checkin for one night stay the cost and coordination wasn’t worth it to me. The best thing to do is to research your options to make an educated decision according to your personality and what could be right for you.
What if I need to store my luggage there after check out?
I did! Actually, I felt most people staying there did. There’s a roped off area next to the checkin desk where you can leave luggage until you need to come back to the hotel to claim it. For instance, I was meeting my sister at a new hotel at 5pm that day but check out is strictly at 10:00am. (There is NO requesting a late check out.) So I simply left my luggage and a backpack in the roped off area. Sure, it’s at your own risk but hotel and area are safe.
Is there free wifi in the building?
Yup, there sure is. I received a pretty strong signal everywhere I went too!
We’re a couple. Can we can stay together?
At this pod hotel there’s only two options: male or female. Thus, heterosexual couples cannot stay together and the pods are designed for single occupancy only.
For dates and availability check their website.
For more great info on Japan check out:
- 20 Surprising Things to Love About Japan
- How to Ace Your Visit to Tokyo Tsukiji Fish Market
- Most Unforgettable Sushi You Will Ever Eat in Tokyo
Would you try an overnight at a pod hotel?