Can Children Stay in Capsule Hotels?

My son at Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
© Ana Costa

If you’re looking at all the unusual things you can try while in Japan, you probably saw some people talking about these funny little pods called capsule hotels. Usually cheaper than a regular hotel room, we are inevitably tempted to try this uncommon experience, but what happens if you’re traveling with your kids? Do capsule hotels allow children?

Some capsule hotels do accept children over 4 years old – each child must be accompanied by an adult -, but these remain the exception. Indeed, as capsule hotels are not meant for children, most of them do not allow a child to stay.

Yes, I know this might be a little disappointing if you were already dreaming about a unique family experience in Japan, but you’ll probably change your mind when I give the details about capsule hotels and why they are not suitable for kids.

What Are Capsule Hotels Exactly

When I first came across the information about capsule hotels, I was really excited because I never saw anything like that. I saw some cool pictures of these funny pods that looked like futuristic beds coming right out of a sci-fi movie, and I was like, “I have to try one of these!”. But then, I started doing some research and the magic disappeared a little. Even if as tourists we are tempted to try all the unusual things we can find in Japan, the capsule hotel experience should be avoided by families with kids, at least most of them.

I would say that there are 2 types of capsule hotels: those that you see on TV and those that the Japanese people know.

If you ask the Japanese what they think about capsule hotels, their arguments will probably discourage you from even giving capsule hotels a try. In Japanese society, capsule hotels are usually meant for an overnight stay only and are used mainly by men, even though there have been some changes, and capsule hotels now have women-only floors. Some capsule hotels are also just for women, but these are rarer for now.

If you watch a TV show about capsule hotels, they’ll sell it to you as an amazing futuristic place and an original type of accommodation, but you only see the best ones. As with any type of accommodation, there’s a wide range of prices starting super cheap.

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In the end, capsule hotels are just rows of pods glued to each other where you can easily hear the neighbor right next to you or even the one that is further away. These pods aren’t locked, and they aren’t meant to store your luggage. Even if you can stay in a capsule hotel several days in a row, they aren’t really meant for this.

Why You Shouldn’t Go to Capsule Hotels With Children

My son inside the pod at Nine Hours Capsule Hotel
© Ana Costa

Almost everywhere in Japan, capsule hotels are used for businessmen who work late, who have a journey early in the morning, or who drank too much at the after-work party. The Japanese certainly don’t use capsule hotels during their vacations, so this probably gives you an idea of how the Japanese feel about it.

As I told you before, there’s a wide range of prices, so not all capsule hotels are the same (they are actually very different). If you want to try a capsule hotel just for the experience of sleeping in a pod, there are a few reasons that will stop you from trying with your kid.

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The most important reason is that few capsule hotels allow children. This is something you must check right away with the hotel, otherwise, you’ll be stuck with your kid. And those who accept children have age and gender limitations that can be really annoying (my 6-year-old boy had to stay with his father when it would have been better to stay with me).

The next reason is that you will be asked not to make noise, and if you’re a parent like me, you know that it is impossible to tell kids to be quiet for a long period of time (you can try, but you will be wasting your time ^^). And even if you have a kid who’s a perfect angel, try to make him or her sleep while the neighbor in the next pod is snoring all night. My son needed to talk to his father because he had a hard time falling asleep, and the neighbor obviously started shushing them.

Another reason is that kids need space to move, and a pod is not really meant for this. The sleeping floors of the hotel will have only the pods, so there’s no place for children to play or run around. If you need a little more space you have to go to another floor where you’ll find a coffee lounge for example (for the hotels that have one).

And finally, the last important reason is that the bathrooms are shared ones. This can be a little complicated to manage, especially with kids.

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Even if after all these basic arguments to avoid capsule hotels with children you still want to give it a try, make sure you pick one with a higher price because the cheapest capsule hotels are very weird. If you’re picking a capsule hotel just because of the lower price, you will be certainly disappointed by the experience. I tried the Nine Hours Capsule Hotel chain, and it was not bad, but you don’t get enough rest in a capsule hotel.

I selected some good videos below that show what you can expect from different capsule hotel experiences. Not only that, but I hope they will be useful to make your final decision.

Examples of Capsule Hotels That Accept Children

As I told you before, most capsule hotels don’t accept children. Fortunately, the capsule hotels that do accept children are probably the best ones, but not the cheapest.

I made you a small list of the hotels that are worth trying and also added some videos to help you have a better idea of what to expect. It is nice to read about it, but it’s best to see it with our eyes, right?

Nine Hours

The Nine Hours hotels can be found mainly in Central Japan, around Tokyo (but there are also some Nine Hours hotels in Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka, and Sendai). These hotels are pretty recent, and the first one opened in December 2009. This is kind of nice because you will be staying in a really cool place, not in some old hotel. This was the one we tried with my 6-year-old.

At the time of writing, Nine Hours hotels accept children at least 4 years old. The children between 4 and 6 years old can stay in the same pod with the parent of the same gender, and they’ll pay half the adult price. Children over 7 years old pay the adult price.

Here’s a video of a family staying at a Nine Hours capsule hotel with their children.

Hotel Zen Tokyo

Hotel Zen Tokyo is a luxury capsule hotel in Tokyo. It is very beautiful, but it only accepts 13-year-old children and above (even if they are accompanied by their parents).

The pods from Hotel Zen Tokyo are not like the ones from standard capsule hotels. Instead of looking like pods, they look more like small luxury rooms. And unlike standard capsule hotels, the pod goes all the way up to the ceiling, so you don’t have to crouch. This hotel has 5 types of pods and some of them even have space for small luggage, which is so rare in capsule hotels.

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I’ll let you take a look at the video below to get a better idea of what it looks like.

First Cabin

First Cabin Hotels are luxury capsule hotels in the same category as Hotel Zen Tokyo. The pods also look like small luxury rooms and have a bigger comfort than standard pods.

These hotels have different types of cabins and the most amazing thing is that they also have premium cabins for 2 with a larger bed and some kind of dorm-style room for up to 5 people in certain hotels. First Cabin Hotels accepts only 12-year-old children and above (even if they are accompanied by their parents).

Bay Hotel

Bay Hotels are like the common capsule hotels you probably expect to find, with rows of pods and a potential neighbor on top or above you. Even if they don’t have the luxury that we saw in the previous ones, they are pretty acceptable for a night stay experience.

Bay Hotels accept 13-year-old children and above (even if they are accompanied by their parents).

Conclusion

Now that you have all the essential information about capsule hotels, you can make a more conscious decision about whether you still want to try one or not. Even if capsule hotels are primarily meant for men, it can still be an interesting experience if you pick a good capsule hotel (usually a little more expensive).

Please don’t fall into the trap of going to a capsule hotel just because it is a budget accommodation, or you might end up in a nightmare experience just like in the video I showed you above.

I’m glad I could experience a capsule hotel at least once in my life, but I don’t know if I’m willing to repeat the experience (especially with kids). Tourists are really attracted by this kind of uncommon experience and Japan knows it, so I’m convinced that the capsule hotel concept will change over time to accommodate families’ needs. For now, it is a new experience, but you must be willing to give up a good night’s sleep.

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