Japanese hotels are very unique when compared to Western style hotels. Here are a few things to know about them before you pack a giant suitcase and head to Japan. These little notes will help you pack and prepare for some unique features of Japanese hotels that may surprise you.
Watch out for smoking rooms – There are still plenty of hotels in Japan that allow smoking in rooms (I know, it’s disgusting, but what can you do?). So when you book a room, make sure it is non-smoking or at least wasn’t smoking before. Also, it helps to check the age of your hotel, the older it is, the more likely it could smell of old smoke, something they just can’t clean away. It is something to research before you heading to a booking website.
Gadgets in the rooms – Japanese hotels are full of fun gadgets. The main lights in the hotel rooms are controlled by your keycard (for most hotels). There are also buttons for lights and climate control. The most fun of course are the famous Japanese toilets that often have heated seats, flush on their own, and some even open when you walk in front of them. They are interesting and even take a little getting used to as well because they are probably not in English.
Know your type – There are a lot of different Japanese hotels, so you will need to know what you want when you book. Ryokan, business, Western, capsule, and beyond, there are plenty of different hotels in Japan. So no matter what your budget is, you will be able to find a hotel. Whether it’s just around $30 or so a night at a capsule (or hostel) or hundreds or more for a traditional private Ryokan, no matter what your budget is, there is a hotel for anyone. Just know what you want and do your research so you can get the hotel room you want.
Small! – Hotels in Japan are super small, no matter which one you pick. If you travel with a lot of luggage, this is something you will need to take into account before you head to the airport. I took small bags, but often found myself having to use my bed to hold the bags or even using the bed as a desk or table because there was just not enough space. For example, the APA hotels are simply a place to sleep, they are not meant for people to hang out in, so again, do your homework before booking your hotel and you pack your bag.
Know your hotel – Know your hotel, it’s simple enough. Know if they speak English, know the train stations and taxi stands around the area, and then know where the restaurants and such are around. Picture this, you arrive, check in late, and just want a cheap dinner and then a convenience store to get some bottles of water and adult beverages, if you do your homework, you will know exactly where to go. When I stayed in Roppongi, I knew where the closest yakitori spot was and Family Mart where in proximity to the hotel, so it didn’t take a lot of searching to find what I needed. Planning ahead can save you a lot of time before you even arrive.
There are plenty of things to knows about the hotels, but these can at least get you prepared in the right direction before booking your hotel.