I like compressed space. As in waking in a plastic shell, stacked; the sound of muffled snores from down the corridor. The only division between you and the world outside is a roll-down screen with draw string. So comfortable and yet so limited in availability. As far as I know, it is only Tokyo where such an experiment has been successful. The very nature of late night work and curtailed transit lines has propagated the rise of capsule nights. Affordable, convenient stays for the business commuter when the trip home becomes nearly impossible.. at least on an economic scale.
My nights at the capsule hotel in the outskirts of Tokyo came as a surprise. I made reservations online for what I thought was a traditional budget hotel room. To my surprise and disapproval at first was the capsule lodge. I tried explaining in my simplified English to the guest staff that I had reserved a "room". There was no room at this hotel and if I was to stay I would have to make do with my new experience in overnight compaction. The seemingly inconvenience of having to take an elevator two floors up to catch a shower and find a toilet felt odd. We are far too comfortable with an unobstructed way of life in the west-especially in the US. Any detour from the expected is often met with indignation. I resolved myself to at least a nights stay. I had to give it a chance and the price compared to an average Tokyo hotel was more than enough to persuade me.
An overnight stay begins in a locker crowded changing room and the disrobing and stowing of ones bags/ belongings. Overnight guests change into Kimonos and then choose between going to a sleeping floor or the bathing floor. As in most east Asian experiences the procession through the building is up through stacked floor plates. The men's and women's floors split between the two respective sleeping area's as well as two separate bathing floors. The only co-ed floor was the lobby cafe where men and women appeared to eagerly commingle.
Sleeping Capsules are like hotel rooms (minus 200sf and a bathroom) and when it comes down to essentials it's only the bed you need. The sleeping only space of shiny white molded plastic contained everything for a comfortable nights stay. Stereo, air-flow controls, a mini-TV and clock, all built into an extended armature on one wall. This small projection doubled as a night stand for bed time drinks or reading materials. It was the most spatially efficient of 'rooms'.