The pod hotel or capsule hotel is becoming increasingly popular these days…

The concept of pod hotels, or capsule hotels as the Japanese prefer to call them, was Japan’s idea of a basic overnight accommodation for budget travelers who cannot afford, or require, the typical hotel facilities. Today pod hotels can be found in over 40 countries around the world. Though the room in a pod hotel is almost the size of a box with minimum facilities, it more than makes up for it with the money saved. Of late, the concept has become trendy for people on the go.

Typically, a room in a pod hotel is of fiberglass or modular plastic. The size can be roughly compared to a rectangle box or a bathtub. Many travelers like to compare them with cruise cabins for their incredible compactness. The ‘rooms’ or capsules are set side by side. The entrances to the pods can be closed with a curtain. Some are provided with fiberglass doors.

The facilities in the pods of different hotels may vary but generally you will find the pods having indented shelves and outlets for electronics with even a TV present. Of course, there is a bed with other basics like mirror, lights, air conditioning and wi-fi connectivity. Washrooms and showers are communal. There may be more than one level of rooms and access to the upper floors is provided by steps.

The pods do not have luggage storage space. Guests are provided with lockers for the same. Smoking is prohibited inside the pods. Food also cannot be consumed in them. Some pod hotels do have restaurants while most have vending machines. Some may also feature additional facilities like swimming pools, barbecue areas and entertainment. Many western pod hotels offer larger accommodations and also private showers/baths.

Pod hotels can be gender free but some of them have separate rooms or floors for men and women. These hotels even have separate elevators for them.

Advantages of pod hotels
  • The biggest advantage of pod hotels is inarguably the price. It can be compared to hostel prices with the additional benefit of privacy.
  • For travelers who do not want to fuss with details and are looking just for a bed and bath, it is an ideal concept.
  • Pod hotels are also an alternative accommodation for people who may have downed one drink too many and so want to bunk down for the night rather than risk driving or facing an angry spouse!
  • These hotels also suit travelers who are in transits or those who get stuck in airports owing to flight delays or cancellations. Many international airports have them too.
  • In Japan, during the recession, the pod hotels were also a blessing to the many jobless people rendered homeless as they could live cheaply, renting out the capsules by the month.
Disadvantages of pod hotels
  • The chief disadvantage of pod hotels is of course the space. It is certainly not recommended for claustrophobic people.
  • The pods can get stuffy with no airflow or ventilation and guests can find it dehydrating.
  • There is a lack of privacy when compared to hotels as there is only a curtain or at most a fiberglass door to cover the entrance. Another major issue is the noise. Any and every noise, including snores of neighboring guests, gets magnified.
  • Some pod hotels also have check-in procedures that require guests to check-out every morning and then re-check in again at check-in time which they find annoying and inconvenient.

In today’s scenario of extensive traveling, pod hotels are definitely here to stay. As one guest blogger for Forbes put it, “The best way to think about a capsule hotel is distilling down the bare necessities of a hotel room, and then stacking a bunch of that in a big room. As long as you are not claustrophobic, pod hotels offer a place to sleep at a reasonable price. Hard to beat that.”