Most hotels attempt to woo travelers with a long list of amenities. Japanese-inspired capsule hotels instead take a different tact. They provide clean, modern, and most importantly, cheap accommodations provided guests are willing to sacrifice on space — a lot of space.
From the city that both invented and popularized the capsule hotel, Tokyo’s ℃ Ebisu is a textbook example of these stripped-down accommodations. Located in the capital city’s popular Shibuya district, the newly renovated hotel has everything most travelers want and nothing they don’t. The design feels like something out of Blade Runner with long, raw wood hallways and coffin-style “rooms” whose only features are a tiny LCD TV, a telephone, and a handful of electrical sockets for guests to charge their electronics. Common amenities are limited to a laundry room and a Finnish-style sauna. Average nightly rates start around USD $35, but guests can opt for a quick nine-hour “nap stay” for half that. In a city with one of the highest costs of living in the world, it’s hard to beat the price.
inBox Capsule Hotel
St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg’s new inBox Capsule Hotel splits the difference between a capsule hotel and a traditional hostel. While it offers budget-friendly private rooms, guests looking to save big can opt for the SmartBox. The dorm-style rooms house between six and 16 individual sleep pods. Each one offers a semi-private experience with individual climate control and a roll-down shade to deter the prying eyes of roommates. The design is sleek and minimal throughout, and the location puts guests in the heart of one of Russia’s most iconic cities for around USD $20 per night with breakfast included.
Capsule Hotel Lucerne
Switzerland is impossibly expensive for many travelers. But, the opening of the new Capsule Hotel Lucerne could pave the way for a more wallet-friendly experience. The hotel sits on the edge of the city’s historic old town, occupying the fifth floor of the Hirschengraben Coworking and Innovations Space. It’s an ideal location for digital nomads who want convenient access to the city and the ability to work in a communal environment. More traditional-style hotel rooms are available, but the big win for budget travelers is the capsule option. Each private capsule is air-conditioned and features clean linens, a mirror, a safe, mood lighting, high-speed Wi-Fi, and universal power outlets. Bathrooms with lockers and showers are also provided. The stark white cosmonaut-inspired design feels perfectly plucked from a cheesy, made-for-TV, SyFy channel movie, but the nightly rates start around €42 (less than USD $50) — a rare bargain for Switzerland.
ZIP by Premier Inn
Cardiff, United Kingdom
New for 2019, Premier Inn is bringing their first ZIP concept to Cardiff, Wales. At roughly 90 square feet, individual rooms are larger than those in a capsule hotel but far tighter than in a traditional hotel. All feature a flexible bedding setup allowing guests to configure there’s with a single bed, twin single beds, or a larger, double bed. Modest storage space and an en-suite bathroom with a rain shower are provided. Fast Wi-Fi, 24-inch flat-screen TVs, and universal power outlets are available as well. Room rates start around $25 per day.
Pangea Pod Hotel
Whistler, British Columbia
If there are two things Whistler is known for, it’s world-class skiing and stratospheric hotel prices. Newly opened Pangea Pod is looking to change the latter for the better. Every capsule — er, pod — here features a clean, minimal layout and a design that’s bold, futuristic, and organic. All offer a double bed, a privacy curtain, locally sourced artwork, and shelving plus soft LED lighting, a locker, and ample electrical/USB charging ports. It’s everything you need, nothing you don’t. Since guests are likely to be packing their own outdoor gear, the hotel provides storage space for bikes, skis, and snowboards in the “Toy Box.” The onsite Living Room restaurant/lounge and The Rooftop Patio are ideal spots for après-ski cocktails in the heart of Whistler Village. The best part is that nightly rates start at under USD $100 for mid-week stays.