Since capsule hotels first became a thing in Japan back in the late ’70s, they’ve been improved upon over the years with modifications like anime art, all-you-can-read manga, traditional Japanese design features, and even live cats.
Recently, the hole-in-the-wall, coffin-like capsule design has been getting an overhaul as well, and these days you can find compact yet spacious rooms with pull-down shutters. One of the places where you’ll find this design is at the curiously named The Millennials capsule hotel chain, and that’s where we stopped off recently for a stay, at their conveniently located branch in Tokyo’s lively Shibuya district.
▼ Despite its name, you don’t have to be a millennial to stay here.
The word “millennials” tends to bring up a lot of imagery, one of which is tech-savviness, and that’s exactly what you’ll find when you walk through the doors here. Rather than use books or paper, the hotel uses video to provide guests with a quick overview of the hotel and its facilities, asking guests to sign in with an electronic signature on a tablet at a very futuristic-looking check-in counter.
After checking in, guests receive an iPod with an IC card. This acts as your proof of check-in, your key to operate the elevators, and your means of using the controls in your cabin room.
▼ The futuristic, sci-fi system at the hotel is easy to use, with both Japanese and English-language options available.
After making our way up to the women-only floor, we were pleased to see that the place looked and felt brand new, and the doors to the cabins were much larger than those you’d find on tiny capsules.
The cabins at the hotel are actually called “Smart Pods”, given that they boast some impressive high-tech features.
The ceiling height is said to be 2.3 meters high, which is ample space for an adult to stand without feeling cramped. Using the iPod here allows you to operate the lights and the ventilation, but the real star of the Smart Pod is the bed itself, which is a reclining model.
The bed can be switched between sofa mode and bed mode via the iPod control system. In sofa mode, guests are able to sit comfortably and read or scroll through their smartphones until they’re ready to sleep, at which time the bed can be reclined fully for a good night’s sleep.
One of the problems guests have when staying at a capsule hotel is the noise from other bunks, especially when the sun rises and guests’ alarms start ringing throughout the halls. The future is here at The Millennials, though, as the cabins are equipped with a new alarm function that activates the lighting and reclining bed, so that at the designated time, the lights will turn on and you’ll be raised into a sitting position that will make it impossible for you to stay asleep.
In true millennial style, the hotel chooses to eschew televisions, instead allowing guests to use their gadgets for entertainment. However, some of the rooms are equipped with an 80-inch projector screen that rolls down over the cabin door so guests can watch videos from their own personal devices.
While the room we stayed in was plain, the hotel also has a unisex floor which features specially decorated “art rooms”, with each one designed by a different artist to give the cabins a unique vibe.
▼ Hotel facilities also include a bright and clean shared shower room.
▼ And a laundry with a washing machine and dryer.
Out in the common areas you’ll find a hip co-working space equipped with plenty of power outlets.
A fifth of the entire hotel space is dedicated to its common areas, which are all beautifully decorated.
The largest co-working space is located on the third floor, which can be used by guests for free and by non-guests for a fee.
Eating and drinking inside the personal cabins is prohibited, but the shared kitchen has a 24-hour coffee server, along with dishes and utensils which can be freely used as long as you wash and clean them afterwards.
Another perk of staying at The Millennials is the free beer service, which runs from 5:30-6:30 every evening. Beer is sold on the site after 6:30 p.m., during which time guests from around the world can be heard conversing with each other over drinks.
The perks continue well into the morning, with a free breakfast service that includes all-you-can-eat bread and unlimited coffee.
With hotels in Shibuya, Kyoto, and Fukuoka, The Millennials is a fantastic place for local and international tourists to stay. Not only do they offer a streamlined system that focuses on reducing waste, in-house facilities designed for gadgets, and cutting-edge technology with artistic interiors, they also manage to offer it all at an impressive price.
While the price per night varies according to the season and the style of room, our night at The Millennials cost just 5,200 yen, with free breakfast, coffee and beer included. That’s a bargain find in the middle of Shibuya, especially when there’s so much to see and do right on your doorstep.
The Millennials Shibuya / ザ・ミレニアルズ渋谷
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jinnan 1-20-13
Check-in from 3 p.m. / Check-out by 10 a.m.
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