In Japan, it’s no secret that love hotels are synonymous with lovemaking. With unusual features like vibrating beds, mirrored ceilings and bathtubs for two, rooms are generally designed to be enjoyed by more than just one person at a time. But with so many preconceived notions about what a love hotel should be used for, how would you feel if you stayed at one of these places alone?
As always, questions like these, which run through the minds of our Japanese-language reporters, are often worth exploring, so one of our most inquisitive team members, Momo Hyakumura, packed her overnight bag and headed out to one of Tokyo’s most well-known love hotels, the Hotel Meguro Emperor.
The reason Momo chose this particular establishment was because the company’s official Twitter account expressly stated that: “Female guests should feel free to stay at our hotel on their own.” Considering she’d never set foot in a love hotel before, Momo was nervous about what she might encounter when the time came for her to enter the building, but taking a deep breath, she gathered her courage and slipped quickly behind the glowing green door.
It turns out that fearing the worst wasn’t a bad coping strategy for Momo’s first-time experience, as she was pleasantly surprised to find that she’d stepped into a luxurious-looking lobby, complete with marble finishings and a low-hanging chandelier. In front of her was a touch-panel display showing the types of rooms which were currently available.
Just then, a couple entered, which would’ve made things awkward had Momo not already reserved a room over the phone earlier. This meant that she could quickly head up to the waiting area on the second floor, which is what the staff requested she do if she arrived before her 9 p.m. check-in time. Looking at her watch, it was five minutes to nine, so she left the loved-up couple to make their room selection while she headed in the opposite direction up the stairs.
After a few minutes of waiting, a male staff member in a black vest suit approached her to let her know the room was ready. With all the polite demeanour of a regular hotel concierge, he asked, “When will your companion be joining you?” Flustered, Momo lied and told him they would be coming later, quickly stepping into the room to avoid any more embarrassing small talk.
With two sets of slippers waiting for her inside, the staff member probably just wanted to check if he’d prepared the right amount of amenities for her stay.
Momo was quick to shrug off any sense of embarrassment she might’ve felt as soon she laid eyes on the room. With warm and welcoming furnishings like these, this might not be a bad stay after all.
After stepping into her slippers and throwing her bag off her shoulder, Momo ran around inspecting the room. There was a spa bath, amenities, all-you-can-watch movies, tea and coffee-making facilities, a massage chair, a personal sauna, and a karaoke machine. With friends like these, who needs company?
Thrilled that she wouldn’t have to hold back from enjoying anything in the hotel room, Momo immediately tried out the sauna. She then hopped into the spa bath for a relaxing soak before stepping into a freshly laundered robe. Rather than feeling pangs of single-girl loneliness, Momo instantly felt like she was the queen of her own luxurious castle for a night.
Once the initial excitement had worn off, Momo realised she’d worked up a bit of an appetite, and then it occurred to her that there was actually a downside to staying here without a partner.
The overnight cost of the room was 14,000 yen, regardless of whether a single person or a couple was staying, and without anyone to share the bill with, Momo’s wallet was bare, meaning room service was out of the question. Still, there was an upside, as she’d already thought ahead earlier, grabbing a discounted onigiri rice ball from the supermarket on her way to the hotel, along with a bottle of tea, a Pocari Sweat sports drink, and a chu-hi canned alcoholic drink.
Despite eating dinner like a pauper, Momo slept like a royal in the soft and luxurious oversized bed. When she woke the next morning, she realised she had no idea what time it was, seeing as the room had no windows. It was as if she’d travelled to another world where nobody else existed.
Thankfully, she hadn’t slept through the entire day, and with a surprisingly late check-out time of 3:00 p.m., Momo was free to lounge about and watch as much TV as she liked. Despite being alone in a windowless, cave-like room, she felt a sense of freedom she hadn’t felt in a long time. All the stress and tension had evaporated from her body, and when she thought about it, she realised her love hotel visit had left her with the same feeling of deep relaxation as a visit to a Zen temple.
While Momo did admit to feeling lonely during moments of her stay, this was largely due to the lack of windows, which completely shut her off from all noise and sense of life from the outside world. Strangely though, this seclusion added to her sense of comfort, which is something she felt throughout her time in the room, surrounded by all the fancy extras. And though there were sex toys for sale, some pixel-heavy porn on the TV, and condoms, one of which she grabbed by accident when she was reaching for the tissues, the erotic overtones in the room were much less than what she’d been expecting. It was more like a luxurious hotel room than a carnal lovemaking den.
Which means Momo’s final report looked like this:
Loneliness factor: ★★★★
Level of eroticism: ★
She was so impressed with her stay that she’s now recommending it to everyone in the office as a way to destress and escape the madness of the city. The one thing she does suggest you do though, is avoid buying a discounted rice ball at the supermarket beforehand for dinner. If you’re going to splurge on a room at a love hotel, you ought to try everything they have to offer. And she means everything.
Hotel Meguro Emperor / ホテル 目黒エンペラー
Address: Tokyo-to, Meguro-ku, 2-1-6 Shimomeguro
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