I have wanted to stay in a capsule hotel ever since I first heard about them several years ago. The place where we stayed was actually a hostel, but I’d say that was one of its best features. Greg found this place and suggested it for part of our trip to Washington, D.C., and I’m always up for interesting accommodations, so we booked it.
Capsule hotels originated in Japan and usually have a large number of pods per room. They’re made to just be a place to sleep and not spend too much time in. Ours was more in the style of a hostel with pods instead of bunk beds. There were only 6 pods in our room, with four stacked together on one side and then two more stacked across from them.
Inside the Pods
There were pros and cons of being in the pods, so let’s start with the pros. First, I like staying in hostels but also really like to have some element of privacy. If I’m staying in a dorm, I prefer that the beds have curtains around them so that I can have my own space. This was the best part about the pods. I think the amount of space inside was about what we expected. They were the size of single beds and easy to sit up in. It wasn’t a space you’d want to hang out in all day, but that’s not what hostel beds are made for.
I know it seems crazy for a couple to choose accommodations with single beds, but both nights we were there, there was another couple (two different couples) in the room, and we saw several more in the common area. In our thirties, we also weren’t the oldest, but probably closer to the average age, with guests up to about 60 years old.
The biggest issue we had with the pods wouldn’t necessarily be a problem with all capsule hotels, because it was that they were made of cheap plastic and very creaky. We could hear people coming in after us and getting up earlier than us. While I didn’t expect the pods to be silent inside because we weren’t sealed in, I really thought they would be a little bit quieter than they actually were.
Another problem I had with the pods was that I expected climate control based on the pictures from the website, but in reality, most of the control panel was a dummy panel and there was just a fan we could turn on and off. There were also on/off light switches, including both white lights and blue lights, a mirror, and a table that could fold up and fit into the wall.
Other than the pods, the rest of the place was an average hostel. It had a common area and even served a very basic breakfast. The bathrooms were just like any other hostel, but their cleanliness did go downhill a little faster than most seem to. They weren’t disgusting, but definitely could have used a touch-up during the night.
The hostel was in a fantastic location. It was around the corner from a subway stop, with only Starbucks standing in between. It was on U Street and 13th, which is a great area for walking around. There were a lot of restaurant options, both domestic and international, and we loved the meals we had in that area.
Would we stay there again?
Maybe. We would be open to trying out another capsule hotel, but hopefully a slightly higher quality one.
Here’s another interesting hotel experience: There’s an approximately $1.20/night hotel room in Japan. The catch? You’re live-streamed on their YouTube channel, appropriately named One Dollar Hotel, whenever you’re in the room. The bathroom is separate and you’re completely aware of the camera, if that makes you feel better about the situation…