Money has been pretty tight recently, however, 10 months ago now we’d booked a month-long trip to Japan, a bargain fare with Aeroflot from Rome to Tokyo then back to London. A trip to Japan is something I’d been dreaming up for well over a decade now, and I was determined not to let it be cancelled by a small financial dilemma.
Of course, anyone who has previously been to or in fact researched the cost of Japan will tell you it’s probably not the best place to go when money is tight. Luckily, I turned to my Tesco Clubcard points and their partnership with Hotels.com.
I turned £80 worth of points into a £240 voucher for Hotels.com instantly. Conveniently this was just the right amount for me to book 7 nights in the newly opened Nine Hours Capsule Hotel in Kamata.
Before-tax, the voucher isn’t allowed to cover tax, that was circa £27 for 2 people for 7 nights.
I figured we’d got a pretty good deal as there are Nine Hour capsule hotels all around Tokyo, yet this newly opened one (August 2018) was the cheapest. No doubt to try and get people to stay, and reviews to boost its profile.
So if you’re looking at booking a stay at this particular Nine Hours Hotel and see it costing more, that’s probably why… But don’t worry, it’s totally worth it as you’ll realise from this review.
Note: One thing that isn’t highlighted on the booking websites clearly (at least that I could find) when it comes to this hotel is that you have to check-out daily between 10am and 1pm. Even if you’re staying a second, third night etc.
They do all the cleaning during this time, so come rain or shine you’re being kicked out of even the common room.
Nine Hours Capsule Hotel in Kamata has lots of great local services. There are around 50 small and mainstream Japanese restaurants within a 200-metre radius. It’s pretty crazy. If you’re looking for something a little closer to home there’s also a KFC, Burger King and McDonald’s all within a 5-minute walk.
Across the road from the capsule hotel, you’ll find 7-11, ideal for picking up snacks and Book Off. There are Book Off stores throughout Tokyo, each of which is more mind-blowing than the one before it, selling second-hand retro-games, consoles and new CD’s, DVD’s, video games and books.
500 metres from Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Kamata there’s Kamata station. Connected directly to the JR line you can get to pretty much anywhere in Tokyo from here (more often than not with a change in Shinagawa).
Specifically, we used Nine Hours Kamata as our base for visiting; Shibuya, Odiba and Harajuku. Each journey was around 700? per person and took approximately 40 minutes.
Like anyone going to Japan, a capsule stay was high on my bucket list. Unfortunately, the reality of which as I scrolled down the accommodation sites seemed rather out-dated. I think that was one of the first real ‘wow’ factors I had about Nine Hours, even just from the photos online.
The pods seemed so modern, spacious and clean, and they were. Each pod was made up fresh every day, whether you’re there for a night or seven like us…
Each pod came with a smoke alarm, blind, 2 USB ports, a reading light and a mains plug. The pods were much larger than you might anticipate, and in no way claustrophobic.
Instead, I felt this sense of being cocooned. Even more so when you add in the specially designed pillow and a duvet with a thread count you’d no doubt only expect to experience at 5-star hotels.
Men and women are separated at Nine Hours, as is the case with most hostels and capsule hotels in Japan. During our entire stay, we were based on the eighth floor. As you can see in the photo above the room is made up of around 30 beds.
The women dedicated floors for sleeping are floors; eight, nine, ten and eleven. With floors two and three dedicated to women’s lockers, shower rooms and toilets. There are also two toilets on each of the sleeping floors alongside the two on each of the washroom and locker floors.
Bathrooms in any form of shared accommodation can be a little grungy… However, you’ll struggle to find a single mark or hair anywhere in this bathroom.
There are six sinks each with their own mirror and hairdryer (they were sometimes full on the mornings around 9am – 10am) around six showers, each with a changing area, rainfall shower (yes, seriously, rainfall shower in a shared bathroom).
The showers were kept in immaculate condition and were very well cared for. This is no surprise as the Japanese are very proud of their home and like to look after it. I also found that even after using the facilities after another person they also kept the area clean and tidy.
There is a set of specially designed toiletries in each shower room and two toilets at the back of the bathroom with permanently heated seats and a range of facilities (which you’ll find to be common in Japan)
Every day when you re-check into the hotel, you’ll be given a fresh amenity bag. This will include a fresh set of towels (body and hair). Once you’ve had your shower, you are to deposit the bath towel into an open bin within the bathroom.
The WIFI at Nine Hours Hotel Kamata is everything you could hope for and more. We experienced zero downtime during our 7 nights here, with speeds of around 200mbps upload and 240mbps download, even during peak times.
And no, I didn’t put one too many zeros on that number… Seriously, I love Japan!
Roomware is made up of a pair of elasticated trousers and a 3/4 sleeve round neck t-shirt made from breathable material. Both items are Nine Hour branded, although both Helen and I found them to be a little tight at times.
I’m a size 14 and if I was any bigger, I’d have been unable to fit into these.
From what we experienced at the hotel, wearing the room ware isn’t essential during your sleep, however, wearing the slippers inside the sleeping area of the hotel is.
So, you’ve got your lightning fast free WIFI. Complimentary fresh towels and room wear within your amenity bag where you’ll also find a toothbrush and a small toothpaste tube.
You’ve also got a small locker (tall, but thin) on the same floor as your bathroom where you’ll be expected to keep all of your belongings. When you do your daily check-out (if you’re here for more than one night) you can leave your things in your locker.
Down on the ground floor is the mixed desk area. Here you’ll find 24 single desks that each have one mains plug and 2 USB plugs. This is the only area of the hotel in which male and females are able to interact.
We found the staff extremely helpful and kind, despite the language barrier they were always so welcoming and willing to try and communicate with us.
Nine Hours Capsule Hotel doesn’t provide food or drinks in any sense. There is no bar, cafe or vending machine. This is purely a place to sleep. While you could bring your food into the reception/working area they do not allow food into the capsule rooms.
At our particular location we found 7/11 across the road which had a range of drinks, small breakfast options such as croissants and pastries. We also found this a great place to find cheap snacks and food when we weren’t eating at a restaurant.
There were also a number of restaurants, cafes and bars around the area serving anything fro traditional Japanese dishes to KFC and McDonalds.
Okay, there are down-sides… like checking out at 10 am and back in at 1pm every day (even for long-term guests) and the limited casual seating options in the common areas.
However, there are some huge positives… Like the amazingly clean rooms, incredibly comfortable beds, a rain shower, and WIFI so fast it’ll bring a tear to your eye. Which (at least in my opinion) all massively outweigh the negatives listed above.
Which is why not only did we enjoy our 7 night stay here, we’d never hesitate to stay in this Nine Hours capsule hotel or any other Nine Hours capsule hotel in Tokyo anytime in the future.
Nine Hours Capsule Hotel Kamata, Tokyo
Nine Hours Capsule Hotel is definitely a place I recommend to people visiting Japan. The whole hotel is very clean and comfortable, though there isn’t relaxed seating in the communal area the rest of the hotel outshines the low points. The facilities, staff and service were all immaculate. It was a wonderful stay.