Since a lot of people who work in Tokyo actually live outside the city limits, the commute times can pose a difficulty, especially if you have a tendency to stay late at the office. Sometimes it just isn’t worth taking the 45-minute or one-hour train ride home only to go straight to sleep and get up bright and early again to go back to work. For days like that, capsule hotels are our biggest allies.
During the New Year lucky bag rush, our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma found himself working late and decided to take advantage of a nearby capsule hotel for one night. After doing some research, he learned that the Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel offers a special “Last-minute Reservation Discount”, where one night comes out to just 3,420 yen. Plus, it has a sauna and a huge bathhouse, all within walking distance of the office! How could he not go?
The Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel is just a five-minute walk from Shinjuku Station’s East Exit. As you may be able to tell from the name, this hotel is right across the street from the Shinjuku Ward Office (or the Shinjuku Kuyakusho in Japanese), and the Thermae-yu Bathhouse, a Kabukicho oasis, is right nearby. While Thermae-yu has a nice, polished feel to it, the area around the Ward Office feels very ’80s. To that extent, Masanuki could understand why the price of the capsule hotel was so reasonable.
Upon further investigation of the hotel, however, Masanuki learned that his 3,320 yen stay was actually a bit on the expensive side for this hotel. A look at the website revealed that prices generally range from 2,500 to 3,000 yen, though the current price for a night stay, without the discount, was listed at 4,000 yen. Masanuki wondered if he was using the hotel during a busy season since many Japanese hotels adjust their rates depending on the dates.
The hotel also offers day plans where you can visit the sauna and bathhouse for either one hour (for 1,000 yen) or 3 hours (1,500 yen), and you can also rent a capsule for six hours on a weekday for 2,000 yen. Women are also welcome at this capsule hotel; there’s a women’s only floor that has its own shower, powder room, and toilet (though it seems the bath and sauna are for men only).
One night’s stay includes the use of a bathrobe, a large towel, and a small towel, and the bathhouse also supplies toothbrushes and shaving materials as well. Check-in began at 2 p.m., with check-out at 10 a.m. the next morning, but Masanuki arrived after 10:30 p.m. for his stay, so he put his things away in his locker, changed into his provided bathrobe, and went straight to the bathhouse.
The bath had the feel of an ancient Roman bath with its white walls and large open space. Whether it was because it was the third day of the New Year’s holidays or because it was quite late, there were quite a few people in there already, and they sounded pretty happy to be there. When Masanuki entered the dimly lit sauna room, there were two levels of seating to the left and right.
Cries of pleasure erupted from a group of manly men relaxing in the sauna whose bodies were covered in tattoos. It was almost like they were chanting a mantra. Since it’s very common for bathhouses to forbid patrons with tattoos, Masanuki thought it was nice that they had a place where they could really let go both mentally and physically. The Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel must be a rare oasis for them.
Their pleasure extended to the infinity chairs, reclining chairs that make it feel like you’re weightless, located next to the bath. “Ahhhhh,” they sighed loudly. Masanuki had to admit he could understand why you’d want to be so vocal about your comfort (though he personally wouldn’t). That bathhouse was great. Just an hour in there was enough to wipe away his exhaustion.
Besides that, the changing room and the capsule room both felt nice and clean, and the spaciousness of the capsules and the public spaces was about standard, so the facility was pretty nice. The only thing Masanuki would recommend is that you bring earplugs if you don’t want to be woken up by someone’s alarm in the morning.
The hotel also has a lounge and a coin laundry, plus free Wi-Fi, and the location is stellar, so if you’re looking for a cheap place to stay in the Shinjuku area, the Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel is definitely worth considering.
There are other great capsule options in the Tokyo area too. The Book and Bed capsule hotel in Shinjuku, for example, doubles as a bookstore and a fancy cafe, and The Millennials capsule hotel in Shibuya offers free beer! Capsule hotels are pretty cool places to stay, whether you’re on a budget or not.
Shinjuku Kuyakusho-mae Capsule Hotel / 新宿区役所前カプセルホテル
Tokyo-to Shinjuku-ku Kabuki-cho 1-2-5 Toyo Biru 3F
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