In the vast weird and wonderful world of hotels are hotels that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes designed to give guests a comfortable lodging experience. One such hotel that has recently started to gain massive popularity in travelers visiting Japan are Pod hotels.
These hotels are among the most interesting forms of lodging hotels with an even more interesting history that has led them to the innovation and popularity they experience today. And i’m going to be going over all of it here and now in this post.
What Are Pod Hotels?
Pod Hotels, also known as Capsule hotels are a form of mass lodging whereby occupants stay in small capsule-like rooms which are typically single-bed sized to accommodate one person only.
The mass lodging model of pod hotels can be seen in other forms of lodging like Hostels and focuses on legally accommodating the most amount of guests within a specific space.
“Pods” are typically designed in a manner where multiple pods are located in the single designated room and are stacked on top of one another in levels. Multiple rooms or floors will be located in the hotel and each will have designated pods and pod numbers for guests to occupy; not unlike the floor and room system of more traditional hotels.
The History Of Pod Hotels
To begin with, Pod Hotels; as unique as they are, are still classified as hotels and their purpose is the same as most holes. Pod hotels have the goal of comfortably providing short-term accommodation to guests who are otherwise temporarily based in the area of the hotel – for work or pleasure.
Now, the specific roots of Pod Hotels are Asian in origin; specifically originating from Osaka, Japan; where the first instance of what we now call Pod Hotels was identified in 1979.
Pod hotels have a running rumor of having their conception brought to life to cater to the average Japanese salaryman as means of cheap accommodation when they traveled for work.
During the Japanese recession of 2009, pod hotels became “pod homes” and were rented monthly by individuals who would have otherwise been made homeless.
Now, Pod hotels are a respected and lodging option for all manner of guests and are no longer just seen as the cheap way to travel as they can come in all sorts of shapes and forms on a spectrum that goes from the most conservative to pods of absolute luxury.
And though Pod hotels are still largely popular in Japan where you’d find the most concentrated group of them; their design and use has spread across the globe.
How Do Pod Hotels Work?
If you were to stereotype Pod hotels, you would likely draw them out as lodging male emphasized lodging specifically targeting salarymen who are conservative on their budget. You wouldn’t expect many amenities aside from partially private pod to sleep in and communal bathrooms, cafeteria and lounge/work areas.
The hotels would usually be located near high traffic areas in a city such as near train stations and guests would be expected to usually stay in the hotel for a single night.
The above stereotype
Considerations – What You Should Know About Pod Hotels?
I mentioned above how pod hotels share the same underlying purpose and goal of most other “lodging” real estate but that’s not to say there aren’t significant differences to traditional hotels that need to be considered and understood to make legitimate decisions.
The following are some of the most important considerations when looking to decide to be a guest in a pod hotel:
- The Price – Are Pod Hotels Cheaper?
- Design – Are Pod Hotels Comfortable?
- Privacy and Security – Are Pod Hotels Safe?
- Amenities – Do Pod Hotels Have Showers?
- The convenience of living in a pod.
- Hygiene – Are Pod Hotels Clean?
- Segregation – Who Can And who Can’t Stay In A Pod Hotel?
1. The Price – Are Pod Hotels Cheaper?
All in all, the price of entry into the world of pod hotels is on average; far cheaper than the average price of most hotels. It is not rare to find lodging in a pod hotel within a financial budget of $25 per night for the more standard pod designs to $60 per night for the more luxurious designs.
2. Design – Are Pod Hotels Comfortable?
Traditionally, you can expect pod hotels to roughly be 1.2m wide * 2 long * 1 high and to be built out of fiberglass.
The standard design of pod hotels is spacious enough for comfortable sleeping arrangements for one but that’s about it. You’re essentially paying for a bed that is only made private by a veil and curtain, and not a room like you would in a hostel; your designated space will typically not be large enough for you to stand or sit without feeling a bit claustrophobic.
The fiberglass design may also remind you of a sanitized hospital instead of a comfortable hotel.
This is what you’d expect from entry-level pod designs, many pod hotel designs do come closer to renting out a room that the traditional expectation of a pod.
3. Privacy and Security – Are Pod Hotels Safe?
As mentioned above, for the most part; when you pay to accommodate a pod hotel, you’re only paying for a bed area and a curtain to cover it as your private area.
Don’t expect locked doors, your bathroom, generally being able to cancel out the noise from your neighbors or even having all your luggage nearby.
You may have a small trunk-like structure in your pod; which will likely be closer to a safe to store the items you are expected to have on you as you sleep like your wallet, watch, shoes, and cell phone. You will rarely have enough space to comfortably and securely store large items like bags or luggage.
For that, Pod hotels will usually have a designated and communal luggage room or locker room which offers far more regular spacing to accommodate more and larger pieces of luggage. As in the name, expect lockers and not wardrobes – you are going to be living out of your bag for the most part.
Concerning your sleeping area (the pod); security is almost non-existent for you and any valuables you keep in your pod aside from the small safe in each pod. It is not encouraged to store valuables in there.
When you account for the locker room; the lockers are not only individually locked by your key, but the area as a whole will also usually be under surveillance to ensure guests are not tampering with the property of others.
4. Amenities – Do Pod Hotels Have Showers?
You can expect the majority of amenities and facilities in pod hotels to be communal by nature and not for your private and independent use.
That is not to say that the amenities in pod hotels are in short supply and the following amenities will often be offered in most pod hotels:
- Fully stocked bath and washrooms,
- Vending machines,
- Entertainment and working areas.
5. The convenience of living in a pod.
Though pod hotels do offer and have more in common with traditional hotels than most would expect at first glance, it is still undeniable that by nature; pod hotels do have an element of inconvenience to them.
More traditional hotels will do offer specialty and communal rooms outside of your private area but pod hotels are likely the only type of lodging model that requires you to move from room to room to do almost anything they offer – and that includes changing your clothes.
The specific rooms are for specific often non-overlapping purposes which you will have to move to through the hotel to gain access to the different amenities. Along with having to traverse the hotel to gain access to the different amenities; you are also not necessarily guaranteed instant use of said amenities.
To further explain, unlike in a hotel; where every room has the same basic amenities that accommodate the number of guests in the room; in tiny hotels; the communal offered amenities are often far less than would be adequate if the hotel was working at full capacity. This can lead to situations where you would have to wait to use the bathroom or shower.
6. Hygiene – Are Pod Hotels Clean?
Most pod hotels work with a daily check-in and checkout model that leads to pods potentially being accommodated by more different people during a year than most traditional hotels.
A pro of this type of modal is that guests are often given less time to accumulate a mess in their property. Adding to this is the fact that pods are significantly smaller than traditional hotel rooms and typically made of fiberglass which makes them far easier and convenient for the staff of the hotel to thoroughly clean and sterilize.
All in all, the fact that most amenities and facilities are communal, makes them easier and simpler to thoroughly clean regularly and to ensure a cleanliness standard. It’s also harder to accumulate a mess when you have to move from room to room to get what you need and do what you need to do.
7. Segregation – Who Can And who Can’t Stay In A Pod Hotel?
Traditionally and commonly, like most hostels; pod hotels have single-sex rooms separate pods and individuals between males and females. Only the more luxurious and large pods will on occasion have co-ed accommodation.
Couples and families with grown children will often find themselves not only separated by rooms but as well by pods as each individual would need the own isolated pod to live in and the pods are separated between male-only and female-only rooms.
Pros and Cons Of Pod Hotels?
Having gone through all the necessary considerations to keep in mind when thinking of being a guest in a pod home; the following will be a detailed list of the pros and cons of accommodating one.
|Pros of Pod Hotels||Cons of Pod Hotels|
|More spacious than you’d think.||Privacy and Inconvenient lodging.|
|Conveniently located.||Not ideal for couples and large families.|
|Hygienic.||Claustrophobia and Central air-conditioning.|
Pros of Pod Hotels.
1. More spacious than you’d think.
For what they; which is a space for sleeping; pods are more than spacious and comfortable enough for all but the most giant and claustrophobic of us out there.
Your pod will often have the crucial amenities you’d want; a light, electrical sockets, storage area for on hand valuables, and sometimes a mirror and a table all within arm’s reach of you.
2. Conveniently located.
Pod hotels are usually found in the heart of the city and near to most transport facilities like train stations in the city which gives guests a great hub to traverse the city conveniently and get the best travelers’ experience from the city.
Pod hotels are not lax on their cleaning services and will have a routine daily schedule for cleaning out each area of the hotel thoroughly.
The hygienic manner of pod hotels is so diligent that crosses over to be a disadvantage as I’ll cover below.
Having access to almost all the amenities you’d get from a traditional hotel (albeit you’re sharing you’ll those amenities are communal for everyone to use and no one to use privately) for under between $25-$50 a day is pretty extraordinary.
For travelers seeing to spend more on experience and less on accommodation; you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than staying in a pod hotel.
Cons of Pod Hotels.
1. Privacy and Inconvenient lodging.
Affordable accommodation comes at the cost of multiple things and one such major thing is the fact that the only thing separating between you and 10-20 other people; is a little veil/curtain that you use to cover up your pod.
Pods aren’t soundproofed and you’re subject to being kept up by the snoring, talking, and music of all your neighbors. When the dorm rooms are full; it’s a hard thing to expect that everyone is going to be quiet when you want them to be quiet.
Also, as I previously mentioned with the rigorous outlook most pod hotels will have towards cleaning; pod hotels will normally have specific hours in the day they dedicate towards cleaning the entire hotel and you will likely be evacuated from the hotel during those hours (or at the very least; bounced from one area in the hotel to another).
The final consideration of inconvenient lodging in pod hotels comes from the fact that almost everything you want is in a different area of the hotel and that includes the vast majority of your luggage.
2. Not ideal for couples and large families.
The majority of pod hotels have single-sex housing pod rooms; this makes the model less viable for couples and large families as everyone will be separated in some degree or form.
3. Claustrophobia and Central air-conditioning.
In most pod hotels, not only are you living in an enclosed space with one point of entry and exit with no windows (by all means a box) but you are also usually sharing one central form of air-conditioning with potentially 10-20 people which can lead to the development of one very stuffy and claustrophobic room.
This is not to say that the pods are unreasonably sized but by all means, it’s not an ideal space you’d want to be in. If you’re claustrophobic you might want to opt-out of the standard small pods for the more luxurious and spacious ones.
Who Are Pod Hotels For?
If we were ranking pod hotels with the following 7 measures:
Pod Hotels would excel in Price, Cleanliness, and Location.
And would not be ideal for individuals who prioritize Comfort, Convenience, Privacy, and Space.
With that in mind, it makes sense why pod hotels have gained popularity with younger travelers who focus on saving money and experiencing the city they’re in instead of high-end accommodation.
Concluding Thoughts On Pod Hotels.
Pod hotels are such a novel and facinating model that seem to cater to exactly what the travelers of today are looking for – afforadable accommodation in an interesting desirable city.
I can see the pod hotel model quickly expanding outside of Japan; especially in popular cities where accommodation is otherwise very expensive.